When the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series rolls into Lernerville Speedway on Saturday for the Commonwealth Clash, all eyes will be on points leader Daryn Pittman and on Donny Schatz, who is second.
Schatz, a five-time series champ is 70 points behind Pittman before racing tonight at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Taking over the driving chores from Joey Saldana for the Kasey Kahne-owned team, Pittman grabbed the points lead with a win in the first race of the season and has never looked back.
Pittman has 8 wins, 43 top-5 finishes and 55 top-10s. He also was the Quick Qualifier 13 times, giving him a qualifying bonus point difference of 98 heading into the races tonight.
Consistency is what got Pittman the lead and wins in the final eight races will secure him the championship.
"We have to go out and do what we've done all year be consistent and be a front-running car," he said. "To be honest with you, we've got to go out and win a race. I am just not trying to run top fives or top 10s; we got to win a race."
Schatz has won a career best 20 feature races in 2013 to become the sixth driver in WoO history to win that often in a season.
At the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup on July 16, Schatz won the first 30-lap feature and Pittman took the second. After being declared the overall winner, Schatz went on a streak of 11 WoO A-Feature wins, including his seventh Knoxville Nationals after starting 21st.
Schatz has 41 top-5 finishes and the same number finishes in the top 10 as Pittman. The difference between the two is in wins (20-8 for Schatz) and Quick Qualifier points (13-3 for Pittman).
Pittman said a fast car doesn't always equate to winning.
"Our cars are faster," he said. "Unfortunately, the way the format works, a faster car doesn't necessarily translate to a better race car. It also doesn't help you to position yourself to win a race. To be honest with you, it's a little bit of a disadvantage for the Quick Qualifier in the starting lineup, but it's a give and take. We've also benefited from being the fast qualifier too."
On Sept. 3, Schatz cut Pittman's lead to 19 points; Pittman regained the margin after a few miscues by Schatz.
Pittman acknowledged that the defending champ never gives up and knew Schatz would be there before too long.
"I've heard footsteps since [Schatz] was a 170 points back," Pittman said. "You knew he wasn't going away. We've had the point lead all year but it's a long way from over."
Schatz has been down this road before.
"We have been running really good and winning races, and that's all we can concentrate on," he said. "We have an extremely fast race car and have been able to take advantage of a few things. We've got eight races remaining and, honestly, have had success at all of the tracks in the past. We just have to keep shooting for wins and see where things stack up when we get to Charlotte."
While the focus is on Pittman and Schatz, Lernerville regulars Carl Bowser, Jack Sodeman Jr., and others will be going up against former track champions Dale Blaney, Tim Shaffer and Danny Holtgraver for local bragging rights in the final WoO STP Sprint Car event this season at Lernerville.
Gates open at 5 p.m. with qualifying scheduled for 7:15. Go to www.lernervillespeedway.com for more information.
Pittsburgh's PA Motor Speedway will be in action Saturday with five divisions. ... Also Saturday, the Little Guy Nationals, headlined by the 358 Modifieds, will be at Mercer Raceway Park.
DJ Johnson: DJ1360rpm@aol.com.