Former Winners Ready for Harvest Classic Calistoga, CA--August 31, 2006 -- For Donny Schatz the taste of victory at the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway is still fresh in his mind, having won the event last year. While for Jac Haudenschild...
Former Winners Ready for Harvest Classic
Calistoga, CA--August 31, 2006 -- For Donny Schatz the taste of victory at the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway is still fresh in his mind, having won the event last year. While for Jac Haudenschild it has been a number of years, 17 to be exact, since he won at the half-mile in the beautiful wine country of the Napa Valley in Northern California.
Both drivers have one thing on mind this weekend as the World of Outlaws Sprint Series takes to the track for the annual event that will pit them against the best drivers from the state of California, and that is to win.
The event will kick off on Saturday night with the finale set for Sunday night as part of the long Labor Day holiday weekend. It will also provide the teams a couple of days to kick back and enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the most scenic areas in the entire world.
"I'm always excited to go out to Calistoga," said Schatz, driver of the Parker Store J&J. "It's a laid back event. It happens over a holiday weekend and is always exciting to go there. There's always great weather. I don't remember if it was last year or the year before, but there were the wild fires that were kind of close, and that was a bad deal. It's always a great place to go. You camp out there for a few days, and have a good time."
Haudenschild is coming off a strong second place run at Southern Oregon Speedway on Wednesday night that saw him win the B-Main to race his way into the A-Feature. Then in only 30 laps on the ultra-fast 3/8-mile he was able to make his way to the runner-up spot after starting 11th. He looks to carry that momentum into the Harvest Classic on Saturday and Sunday.
"I like Calistoga a lot," Haudenschild said. "I like the big half-mile tracks. The track usually runs pretty good down there. Sometimes it slicks off, but there's always good racing there. We're looking forward to getting back there."
The Harvest Classic which has been a three-day event in the past will be a two-day event this year. Saturday night will be host a preliminary feature with the A-Feature to follow on Sunday night, with full World of Outlaws Championship points on the line in the finale.
"I'm kind of glad that it is back to a two day show rather than a three day show," Schatz said. "We're excited to get there. It's going to be an exciting week. We have a couple days off and get to enjoy downtown Calistoga, and just have a good week."
Both Schatz and Haudenschild know how demanding the track can be, and that it takes not only a powerful engine singing at full song, but also a car than is handling well to run up front. Schatz, who is chasing his first World of Outlaws championship, has 12 A-Feature wins on the season, along with two preliminary features wins, and a win in the famed Knoxville Nationals, that put $140,000 in the pocket of his team. Adding another win in the Harvest Classic would certainly add another notch to what is already been a remarkable season for the native of Fargo, North Dakota.
"It takes a lot to win out there," Schatz said. "You have to have your motors running well down there at sea level. Everybody's stuff seems to run well with the air in that type of place. The race track is very demanding, it can be slick and it can have a cushion."
Haudenschild who has won four races this season aboard the Wright One Construction Maxim is looking for his first win of the year on a half-mile track. His wins have come on three different sizes of track including: a quarter-mile, a third-mile, and a 3/8-mile. He has been close to winning a couple races on half-miles this year, and with a break here or there, he would have had him in RacinSoles Victory Lane a couple more times. A second Harvest Classic win would be priceless for the veteran driver who has loyal fans from coast-to-coast.
"It does take a little extra horsepower to win there, but it takes a good motor anywhere to win," said Haudenschild. "Calistoga is a big track and it definitely takes the motor running hard to win the race. There's going to be a lot of good cars there."
Schatz, who set a new track record on Wednesday night at Southern Oregon Speedway, knows the importance of the two qualifying laps he will get to start off his night on Saturday. He currently leads the series with seven fast time honors to his credit and also has won seven dashes. This has led to him starting on the pole position a series leading seven times in World of Outlaws A-Feature competition.
"You have to get qualified well," said Schatz. "We have been good there. Last year we managed to win the three-day show. Obviously it will be a little different this year. We'll have a lot more cars than we had there last year. We're looking forward to a great event."
While Schatz and Haudenschild have turned many laps at Calistoga, there will be many drivers taking to the spacious track for the first time. For many of the drivers, it will be their first visit to the Golden State. Haudenschild sees this as a great opportunity for the fans to see drivers they have never seen on the track before.
"The Outlaws have a lot of good cars this year, and the competition will be tough," he said. "I think we'll get the Rick Wright car running good, and hopefully we'll be up front."
The true competitor in Schatz wants to lead every lap over the weekend and walk away with the big check, but he also wants to enjoy his time and scenery that the teams will take in during their stay in the Napa Valley.
"Hopefully we can come out on top, and if not we want to have a great race, and just have a good time," said Schatz."
With the rigors of being on the road full-time, having a couple extra days to travel to events, is just fine with Haudenschild. While he enjoys racing as much as he can, the native of Wooster, Ohio also enjoys kicking back when he is not in the car.
"The season is kind of slowing down now," Haudenschild said. "We are mainly racing on the weekends now. The pace is slowing down as the season winds down and it is getting relaxing."