SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SEEK GOLD CUP CHAMPIONSHIP CHICO, CA (September 5) - The journey of a World of Outlaws season takes the drivers and teams to all sorts of race venues and each of them seem to present their own challenges. This week's...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SEEK GOLD CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
CHICO, CA (September 5) - The journey of a World of Outlaws season takes the drivers and teams to all sorts of race venues and each of them seem to present their own challenges. This week's challenge is Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California where Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore World of Outlaws team will be part of the 53rd annual Gold Cup Race of Champions three-night extravaganza.
Located in north central California, the quarter-mile dirt oval is truly a bull ring and provides some of the most action-packed racing of the season. Schatz, who won the 2004 Gold Cup, enters this year's event leading the World of Outlaws standings in nearly every category including the points, most victories and fast qualifier awards, but admits anything is possible at the Gold Cup and that his entire team will need to be on top of the game if they are going to stake claim to the $50,000, which goes to the winner of Saturday night's 40-lap marathon.
"The Gold Cup is a race like no other," said Schatz, who will be making his 10th entry in California's most anticipated sprint car race of the season. "You've got to be on top of things every step of the way. The competition is second to none. The track is always racy and very tough, and of course, you've got to get some breaks along the way."
"I'm a big believer in the principle that harder you work the more luck comes your way. I know my crew (Ricky Warner, Shane Bowers and James Zartman) and I will be working as hard as we can starting Thursday night."
Thursday night is the opening night of the event, and Schatz will be part of the first half of cars that will turn a qualifying lap, compete in a heat race and participate in the 30-lap preliminary feature. The Fargo, ND racer will receive points per position in each and Saturday's finale will be lined up in order of the highest total points on down. On Friday night, the second half of the field with chase points in hopes of earning enough to find themselves near the front of Saturday's Gold Cup finale.
"The qualifying night is really important and we'll try to win everything we can starting with qualifying," continued Schatz, who has won 12 WoO "A" Features in 2006 and recently claimed the 2006 Knoxville Nationals. "The thing that makes those nights tough is that there are a lot of good cars from here in California and this track does take some getting used to. We'll just go out and try to be the best we can each time out and hopefully have our best showing at the end of the night Thursday. After that we'll see where things stand and then look towards Saturday."
Throughout his career, Schatz finds a way to become a factor during the "big money" events. Winning this year's Knoxville Nationals was a test of determination for the 29 year-old racer.
Reaching the heights of winning the Gold Cup took the 1997 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year some time as well. It wasn't until his third Gold Cup appearance in 1999 that he was able to score a top five finish. In 2001, he backed up his best career finish of fourth before putting it all together in 2004 when he led all 70 laps he raced in (30 lap preliminary and 40 lap finale) to take the crown.
"We got things going pretty well and by chance things worked out our way," recalled Schatz of 2004 triumph. "We had qualified in a spot (10th) that probably hurt us points wise, but got us to the front of the dash where we had to make a bonzi move on Brent Kaeding to put ourselves on the front row for the feature. We beat Mark Kinser to the first corner in the preliminary feature and went on from there. I'd sure like a repeat performance of that weekend this week."
The stakes were raised in this year's event as the winner will take home $50,000 for the victory meaning the Gold Cup winner's share equals that of the famous King's Royal (at Eldora) and National Open (at Williams Grove). Schatz has scored some high paying victories already in 2006 ($50,000-to-win event at Parramatta City Raceway (Australia) in January, $30,000 for the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway and $140,000 for winning the Nationals at Knoxville in August), but he also appreciates the opportunity to be Gold Cup champion again just as much.
"The payout is a nice added bonus and honestly, teams need to have races paying that amount from time to time," continued Schatz. "For us its important to continue winning races and hopefully build on what has been a really good season for us. Some of the best drivers ever to sit in a sprint car have won the Gold Cup and we'd sure like to be one of the guys to do it twice."
The Gold Cup Race of Champions is the final leg the series' Gold Rush Tour that began after the Nationals in Iowa to events in South Dakota, North Dakota, Washington, Idaho and to Calistoga, CA last weekend.
"This has always been a fun part of the season for me and I'd like to end this swing with a bang," concluded Schatz. "The only way to do it right is come out of Chico on Saturday night as the Gold Cup Champion and that's what were going to try and do."