DEFENDING NATIONALS CHAMPION READY FOR KNOXVILLE RETURN KNOXVILLE, IA (April 27) - It was at a make-up feature last October when Donny Schatz had the opportunity to return to the site of his biggest moment in sprint car racing. Usually, ...
DEFENDING NATIONALS CHAMPION READY FOR KNOXVILLE RETURN
KNOXVILLE, IA (April 27) - It was at a make-up feature last October when Donny Schatz had the opportunity to return to the site of his biggest moment in sprint car racing.
Usually, Knoxville Nationals champions have to wait seven months to return to the track. Thanks to a rain-out from earlier in the year, Schatz was back at the raceway driving his No. 15 ParkerStore J&J to a second consecutive victory at the prestigious Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa.
This weekend, Schatz will return once again, and this time be carrying the title of World of Outlaws (WoO) champion along with Knoxville Nationals champion. Nothing close to the 300-pound gorilla he had on his back during the last six years when he showed up for the WoO race each April.
"It still is hard to believe that we finally won the Knoxville Nationals, and it's a great feeling" said Schatz, who finished second in the race in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005 before winning last year's race. "Thanks to mother nature we got to come back here last October and were recognized by the track. That was pretty special and to go out later that night and win my first Outlaw feature at track was pretty cool too."
After many spring races at the track where Schatz would hear "you'll get 'em this year" or "just get one spot better in August", the outlook for the team now is to do it again.
In order to do that, Schatz and his ParkerStore crew of Dave Lawrence, Shane Bowers, Brad Sparks and Dave Nisbet will have to make the most of this one-night show.
"We've got some new guys on the team and we're going to work hard at getting the car as best we can," continued Schatz. "Winning last year doesn't have any bearing on Saturday's race, but in order to be where we want to be later in the year we know the importance of these nights on the track. Our goal is to win every race we enter, so we've got one thing in mind and that's trying to be right there at the end of the race on Saturday."
In year's past, the Outlaws had four and some times five races at the track where teams could build a database of notes to be ready for the "Superbowl of Sprint Car Racing", which takes places during the second week of August each year.
This year after Saturday's Budweiser Night program, there will be only one more appearance at the track on June 16, when they kick off the World of Outlaws SuperClean Summer of Money mini-series to be broadcast on ESPN2, before the Nationals.
If the first 15 races are any predictors for Saturday's event, the race will be an exciting one. Schatz has 14 top six finishes, and three victories. He leads the point standings, and on Saturday will debut a Snap-on schemed car, the first time he hasn't been his familiar yellow on US soil since winning the SuperClean Knoxville Nationals last August.
"We are really excited about getting to race the Snap-on car," said Schatz. "Originally, the car was to debut in Pevely earlier this month, but we had some weather problems. We're really thrilled to be associated with a marketing partner like Snap-on Tools promoting their products across the country. They've got the best tools in the business and we've been using them for years. I know they are really behind us and we're excited to get that cool looking car on the track and do some winning with it."
Saturday's race will be the first of eight events where Schatz will pilot the red and black No. 15 J&J. The car also includes brand marks from the team's major marketing partner Global ParkerStore and Hose Doctor. The team will next race the Snap-on car on May 12 at Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, MO.