FARGO, ND - Ever since Donny Schatz can remember, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws annual visit to Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, ND, has been the highlight of his summer. Starting with the days his dad would take him to see the best sprint car...
FARGO, ND - Ever since Donny Schatz can remember, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws annual visit to Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, ND, has been the highlight of his summer. Starting with the days his dad would take him to see the best sprint car drives in the world, Schatz dreamed of winning a World of Outlaws race at the high-speed half-mile dirt oval. This weekend, Schatz will drive the #15 ParkerStores/Featherlite Coaches J&J sprint car in the fourth annual Duel in the Dakotas as he tries to win his first WoO feature race in his home state.
Schatz, who is in his fifth season with the Outlaws, won his first career sprint car feature at the Red River Valley Speedway on August 20, 1993, and this season he is having his best year of his young career. He has five Outlaw wins (three "A" feature events and two preliminary features) and currently ranks sixth in the very competitive WoO standings.
"We're having a pretty good season, and winning this weekend would make it whole lot better," said Schatz, a 23 year-old Minot, ND native. "We started the season good, but then kind of fell off. Winning at Huset's (Speedway) in April really got us going in the right direction. I've never had a stretch like that before (winning five races in 15 nights of action), but I know I'm ready to put another one together. I know the team hasn't been happy with our finishes here lately, so I'm hoping some "home cooking" will bring back our winning ways."
As well as having a number of laps on the Red River Valley gumbo, Schatz has the advantage on his competitors this weekend with a "home-crowd" rooting for "The Minot Missile". "It's awesome when you've got so many people pulling for you," said Schatz. "I mean the place goes nuts when we go out to hot lap. Maybe that makes me want to win here even more and I put too much pressure on myself. Crazy things always seem to happen."
Schatz has competed with the Outlaws at his "home-track" since his first season in sprint car in 1993 and he was only 15 that season when the WoO made their yearly trek to the Dakotas. He has eight top ten finishes in 19 races including preliminary and "A" Feature events. Last season, he had his best finish of second place when he chased Danny Lasoski for 20 laps in the second preliminary program. Kenny Woodruff, who is the crew chief on the ParkerStores team, last won at Red River Valley with Dave Blaney on July 9, 1994, is hoping to help Schatz get over the hump.
"I like coming up here," said Woodruff, who joined the team at last year's Knoxville Nationals. "Our cars have done really well here in the past and we're hoping that we can come away with a few wins this weekend. Donny seems to run pretty well here, so I think our chances are as good as anyone. We need to win more races and keep the competition thinking about us."