Donny Schatz Honored as 2006 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Championship Las Vegas, NV--Oct. 29, 2006 -- Donny Schatz had one goal at the beginning of the season, and that was to win the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship. Over eight ...
Donny Schatz Honored as 2006 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Championship
Las Vegas, NV--Oct. 29, 2006 -- Donny Schatz had one goal at the beginning of the season, and that was to win the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship. Over eight months and 69 race events later, he was crowned the series champion and received the $200,000 top-prize.
While the check was great and will help pay the bills, it was the 38-pound bronze trophy and inaugural champions ring that he received, that really made him smile.
Schatz, who won 17 A-Feature races along with 2 preliminary features, driving the Parker Store J&J, was honored on Sunday night at The Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for his first career World of Outlaws title.
Prior to the awards banquet, the champion and winner of this year's Knoxville Nationals, was a guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED, which will broadcast 12 World of Outlaws Sprint Series events in 2007.
Upon receiving his trophy and ring, Schatz, who is an avid pilot, lightened up the crowd.
"It's a good thing I don't fly commercial often, because they would not let me through security," quipped Schatz as he put the ring and held the trophy.
Schatz capped the year off in grand fashion on Saturday night winning the season finale at the Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with an enthusiastic crowd on hand that gave him a standing ovation when he climbed out of his car. For Schatz, Sunday night was not just about receiving his title, but it was about 10 years of hard work and dedication that have gotten him and his team to this point.
"There is not much you can say, with the hard work that everyone has put in," said the champion. "People stood behind us, and it's well deserved and long overdue. No matter what happens, we've done it, and now it's time to do it again. This is what it's all about. This is what we wanted to do. We're excited and we are going to enjoy it, because it doesn't last forever. Next year starts tomorrow."
After finishing last season as one of the hottest drivers on the circuit, Schatz had high expectations heading into 2006. He began the season racing in Australia, where he won six races in a row and eight out of nine. He carried that momentum back across the ocean with him, when the World of Outlaws season began in February. Along with crew chief Ricky Warner, who was honored Sunday with the Snap-on® Crew Chief of the Year Award, Schatz and his team took to the track every night setting out to win, and not worrying about the point standings.
"We thought we could win 30 races this year," said Schatz, a native of Fargo, North Dakota. "You have to set your goals high. Now we know that we can do that, and what our parameters are, and we can build on that for next year. It's not just the wins, there were a lot of second-place finishes there as well. It's about consistency. If you can't win, then you have to be up there fighting for it. There weren't too many nights that we were racing, where we were not fighting for it."
While addressing the attentive crowd on Sunday night, Schatz acknowledged all the people that have helped him get to where he is, including his parents, sponsors, his team, and the fans.
"You have to be grateful for opportunity that you have," said Schatz, who received a commemorative hunting rifle on Sunday night from his long time sponsor Parker Store. "I've had the best opportunities that there are. I appreciate every one of them, and hopefully I don't let anyone down. We'll come back and just try to be as strong as before."
One win that stood out most in Schatz's mind this year came on Oct. 21 at USA Race Park in Tucson, the day after series found Ted Johnson had passed away. Schatz pledged that night to win the event for his friend, and he did it in fine fashion. He proudly paid tribute to his friend on Sunday night, thanking him for all he did for the sport.
"Ted (Johnson) kind of straightened me out and told me some things in my early days, about what it took to do this and to do that," said a thankful Schatz. "He didn't need to do that. He was real close with my dad, and the last couple years we spent a lot of time with him. He did a lot of great things for this sport. He put himself and his family in a lot of jeopardizing situations to make sure that everyone in this room, had what was coming to them. You have to commend him for that. He did exactly what it took to get the job done. He always stood behind the people that supported him. That's what it's all about."
Danny and Diane Schatz were also honored as being the championship winning car owners on Sunday night. Danny, who used to race, was very gratified knowing all the long hours in the shop and on the road had finally paid off for his son, who was the 1997 series Rookie of the Year, and for the entire team.
"It's great to win the title," said Danny Schatz. "It's also very great to be associated with a group that is as successful and competitive as we are. That's probably more of a reward than having the title. We're able to compete with people that want to compete as bad as we do."
Prior to video montages of each of the Top15 drivers in points, that was masterfully voiced by long time series announcer John Gibson, who also emceed the awards ceremony, Tom Deery, the President and CEO of Dirt MotorSports, welcomed the crowd and expressed his gratitude for a very successful season.
"It's great to be in Las Vegas to put the finishing touches on the 2006 World of Outlaws season," said Deery. "It's a night of trophies, cash, and celebration, but it's really about our family getting together for that one final night to look back on a great season."
Derry thanked everyone in the room for their continued hard work and dedication during the season, knowing all the long hours on the road and sleepless nights that went into making the season so great.
"I would like to thank all the drivers," said Deery. "Surviving a year on the road with the World of Outlaws is one of the most incredible feats of all sports. You not only completed a great season, but wrote a chapter in the overall story of motorsports history."
Craig Dollansky who won six races in the Karavan Trailers Maxim received $100,000 for his career best second-place finish with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. The native of Elk River, Minn., was honored to have been part of such an exciting and competitive season with the series, and is looking forward to 2007.
"Thank you to the fans," said Dollansky. "We have a lot of great fans out here. Thanks for all of your support. We have a lot of great teams out here and a lot of great drivers. I'm just proud to be a part of it. All the teams did a great job."
Joey Saldana finished the year third in points and received $70,000 for his efforts. He racked up seven wins on the year including a $50,000 triumph in the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway, the second time in his career, he won the famed event. It was the first year that the Kasey Kahne Racing team took to the road full-time. Led by crew chief Willie Kahne along with Justin Adams and Kevin Cardoza, the team was the winners of the Snap-on ® Pit Crew Challenge.
"It was a great year and I am so proud to be part of this series," said Saldana, driver of the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI. "I had a great opportunity this year with Kasey Kahne Racing, and I have to thank Kasey and the team for standing behind me. I had a great opportunity, and it was a huge honor to driver the number nine car this year."
Other award winners on Sunday night included: Chad Kemenah picking up the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt. Kemenah finished the year seventh in points aboard the Underground Utilities Inc./RacinSoles.com Eagle, after winning the season opener at Volusia Speedway Park.
The winner of the Engine Builder Challenge was Shaver Specialties, while J&J Auto Racing won the chassis builder's award.
Dion Hindi, driver of the RealTruck.com J&J finished 12th in points on the strength of eight Top-10 finishes, and received the Hard Luck Award
The first ever Ted Johnson Memorial Award was presented to SLS Promotions for their significant contribution to the sport of sprint car racing. Brian Carter, the Chief Financial Officer for DIRT MotorSports presented the award to Steve Sinclair, Larry Hillerud, and Scott Boyd.
With the 2007 season just around the corner, Deery shared his enthusiasm and excitement for the continued growth of the series. He also took a minute to pay tribute to Ted Johnson and to thank the charismatic and influential founder of the series for all that he did for the sport in his fruitful life.
"We are dedicated to the continuance of this sport," said Deery. "We pledge and we will carry on the vision of Ted Johnson with honestly, humility, and integrity. We owe so much to Ted, and we are thankful to him for giving all of us the vision that we follow here tonight. The future for 2007 and beyond is very bright. It just doesn't get any better than this."
2006 World of Outlaws Sprint Series Driver Points Fund Awards:
1. Donny Schatz - $200,000
2. Craig Dollansky - $100,000
3. Joey Saldana - $70,000
4. Daryn Pittman - $65,000
5. Jac Haudenschild - $60,000
6. Brooke Tatnell - $55,000
7. Chad Kemenah - $50,000
8. Justin Henderson - $45,000
9. Terry McCarl - $42,000
10. Jeremy Campbell - $40,000
11. Randy Hannagan - $25,000
12. Dion Hindi - $20,000
13. Jason Martin - $17,000
14. Becca Anderson - $16,000
15. Brian Carlson - $15,000
16. Bill Rose -- $10,000
17. Jason Solwold - $5,000
18. Paul McMahan - $5,000
19. Danny Lasoski- $5,000
20. Greg Wilson - $5,000