SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM EYE RETURN TO VICTORY LANE AT ELDORA Current WoO points leader seeking 17th win at Chevrolet sponsored event FARGO (September 20) - The last time defending World of Outlaws(WoO) champion and current points leader Donny...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM EYE RETURN TO VICTORY LANE AT ELDORA
Current WoO points leader seeking 17th win at Chevrolet sponsored event
FARGO (September 20) - The last time defending World of Outlaws(WoO) champion and current points leader Donny Schatz was at Tony Stewart's famed Eldora Speedway, he was in a class of his own behind the wheel of his Global ParkerStore/Tom Johnson Camping Center sponsored No. 15 J&J with Shaver-built Chevrolet power.
His win in the Kings Royal presented by Crown Royal began an incredible sweep of sprint car racing's "Month of Money" events. He led the final 35 laps of the 24th annual Kings Royal and became the 13th different driver to take home the $50,000 prize.
On Friday night, the Fargo, ND resident will return for a single-night program that kicks off the American Revolution Weekend presented by Chevrolet at Eldora Speedway.
"We're excited to get back on the track at Eldora and just hope we're in the same zip code as we were at the Kings Royal," said Schatz, who won the race by 7.8 seconds and has three career wins at high-banked, half-mile dirt oval. "That was the start of a pretty good run we went on. My crew did a great job that night as we took advantage of the format and found ourselves in the right place at the right time. We've been good at Eldora all season, so our intentions are to go in there and get another win."
If his previous results at the track are any indication of what to expect Friday, chances are he'll be near the front again. Friday's event is the fifth race of the season at the track, and Schatz has three podium finishes and a charge from 17th to sixth in the first four.
"Eldora was really never one of my best tracks, but last year we started to figure it out," admitted Schatz, who will be making his 62nd WoO start at the track on Friday. "I know there a lot of guys that really get around that place well, so we're just hoping to continue what we've been doing there the past year and half."
Consistency has been the key for Schatz all season. He enters Friday night's race with 61 top ten finishes in 67 WoO starts, and those numbers don't include his runner-up finish in his Knoxville Nationals preliminary night feature or his second consecutive triumph in the Knoxville Nationals finale.
"We won the championship last season by being consistent and that's been our plan all along this year," claimed Schatz. "We hit a little bump in the road out West (where he only had one podium finish during an eight-race stretch), but we feel like we know what we were doing wrong. There's only a small number of races left this year, so we've got to get every one that we can from here on out."
Since his charge from 15th to sixth in the Gold Cup finale, Schatz and his ParkerStore team have been on a surge. Prior to the Gold Cup, Joey Saldana had cut the championship points lead to 19 points, but Schatz built the lead back to 53 points with wins last week at Clay County Fair Speedway (Spencer, IA) and Heartland Park Topeka (Topeka, KS) along with a runner-up finish on Sunday night at Charter Raceway Park (Beaver Dam, WI).
"We've tried to just focus on winning races and honestly that's what we do," said Schatz, who has led the points standings since April 21st. "When everyone keeps asking about it, you do kind of figure out where (the points) are at. We had a DNF at Minot that killed us and then had some top ten runs while (Joey) was finishing on the podium. That's how quickly it can change. Last week we had a couple wins and a second, while he had top ten finishes and we got it back over 50."
Entering Friday's race only 11 more events will remain and six of them will be at tracks where Schatz has already won in 2007.
"We're excited about getting back to the big, fast half-miles," said Schatz, who has four wins at Williams Grove, a win at Eldora, a victory at Manzanita this season. "Big tracks get back to horsepower and having a strong race car. Both are really high on our priority list as we feel like this Shaver (motor) and J&J (chassis) combination we run is the best there is. We're just going to go out and try to win every race we can. Last year, we won 19 and this year we at least want to be at 20."
This will be the first appearance for Schatz at Eldora Speedway since the announcement was made that he will be a second driver for Tony Stewart Racing's World of Outlaws campaign in 2008.
"It's exciting to have the opportunity to join a quality organization like Tony Stewart Racing," continued Schatz, who has driven his family-owned sprint car on the WoO circuit since 1997. "Tony has built a great foundation for success. Jimmy Carr helped them win a World of Outlaws championship and three Knoxville Nationals. They have a great resource of experience and talent. To be able to join them is an awesome opportunity that I'm really looking forward to."
"We spent Monday at Kamp Speedway in Indiana doing some testing and Tony was there helping out. I know his organization is committed to winning races and earning championships. I want to win everything we can, and I know Tony feels the same way. You can see it at Eldora Speedway where they've made upgrades and continue to make that track one of the premier places to race in the world."
Friday's race will be taped by SPEED and air on Sunday, September 30 at 2 p.m. (et). Schatz has won four WoO races that have been televised this season. Two of those wins came during the eight-race Super Clean Summer of Money series on ESPN2 helping him earn the series crown. Schatz finished second at Eldora in the season's first televised race before winning consecutive SPEED shows first at Williams Grove Speedway and secondly at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Schatz also claimed the Knoxville Nationals in August, which aired live on SPEED.