SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM LOOK TO DEFEND GOLD CUP CROWN CHICO, CA (September 7) - Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore World of Outlaws sprint car team have been known to get streaky and reel off big wins one right after another. Last September, the...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM LOOK TO DEFEND GOLD CUP CROWN
CHICO, CA (September 7) - Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore World of Outlaws sprint car team have been known to get streaky and reel off big wins one right after another. Last September, the Fargo, ND racer claimed his first Gold Cup Race of Champions on the 1/4 mile clay oval located at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds by dominating sprint car racing's "Jewel of the West Coast", leading all 40 laps of the $25,000-to-win feature event before winning five more races to conclude the season.
The trouble for the rest of the Outlaws and every other sprint car driver hoping to bask in Chico's glory is that Schatz and his newly formed ParkerStore team of Ricky Warner and Dion Hindi are coming into the 52nd Gold Cup full of momentum following their thrilling victory in the Harvest Classic finale on Sunday night at Calistoga.
"Things have been going pretty well lately," understated Schatz, following a pair of "A" feature victories in which he drove by sprint car legend Steve Kinser to claim the victory in both. "I know we expected everything to be going that way all year, but we're happy right now. We're just taking each race one night at time and trying not to think about the one's that are behind us. Our cars have been working really well on short tracks, big tracks and anything in between. We're excited to be the defending champion and hoping we can defend the title the best we can and put ourselves in a position to repeat."
This season's annual trek through the Northwest has been a building experience for Schatz and crew. New crew chief Ricky Warner joined the team just prior to the Knoxville Nationals, where Schatz finished second for the fourth time in six years. Warner returned to his sprint car racing roots after spending time in NASCAR. Former WoO driver, Dion Hindi, joined the family owned #15 team in Billings, MT and the three clicked from the start. Only a broken rearend with two laps remaining kept the team from taking the Billings finale on August 20th.
The team didn't hang their heads as they made their way to Washington. Following a successful ParkerStore appearance near Tacoma, the #15 ParkerStore J&J put on a show in the finale two weeks ago at Grays Harbor Raceway charging from ninth to victory.
"With Rick Warner things have been a lot different," continued Schatz, who has six "A" feature wins in 2005 and ranks fifth in the point standings. "He can watch what I'm doing on the track and can tell what needs to be adjusted by watching the car. That's definitely an asset to me as we can put our heads together and make the right calls on the car. Dion is really familiar with our J&J cars and offers his thoughts from a driver's perspective, which has been a big plus too. I really feel like we've got a great team forming here and it's a lot of fun racing right now. I didn't really expect us to click as a group this fast, but we've got some things in the works to build a formidable team for some time to come."
The team enters this weekend's Gold Cup knowing that a strong qualifying night will go along way towards defending the title.
"Last year, we had one of those special weekends where everything worked out," recalled Schatz. "Not many guys lead all 30 laps of the preliminary feature and follow that up by leading 40 laps of the finale. It's a fun race, but you have to get through your prelim night with no trouble and sometimes that's quite a task."
"You know there will be quite a few good cars. Steve Kinser is always the guy to beat, but him and Danny (Lasoski) have to be at the IROC race, so maybe that will take their focus away a little bit. We're just going to try and do the things we need to do to get as far forward as we can and be there at the end on Saturday night."
Schatz and the ParkerStore team will be a part of Thursday night's preliminary action. Points will be accumulated through qualifying, heat races and the feature event. Saturday night's $25,000-to-win 40-lap race will be lined up by qualifying points.