Donny Schatz season preview

SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SET TO DEFEND WORLD OF OUTLAWS CHAMPIONSHIP FARGO, ND (February 6) - The 2006 racing season was a career best for World of Outlaws (WoO) star Donny Schatz, and after claiming his first career WoO title, the ParkerStore...

SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SET TO DEFEND WORLD OF OUTLAWS CHAMPIONSHIP

FARGO, ND (February 6) - The 2006 racing season was a career best for World of Outlaws (WoO) star Donny Schatz, and after claiming his first career WoO title, the ParkerStore sponsored racer is primed to defend his championship.

The off-season consisted of another impressive run of races in Australia that included five consecutive wins, his sixth $50K Sprintcar International and third consecutive Outlaws Down Under victory. Now his sights are set on maintaining his position on top of the sprint car world.

"We are really excited to get back to the track and do what we do," said Schatz, who garnered numerous awards following his championship including being named first team All-America by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, earning the National Sprint Car Poll Driver of the Year and Team of Year honors, voted the 2006 Lucas Oil/Dirt Nation sprint car driver of the year, and most recently ranking as the number one driver in Australia. "Last year we proved that we can be champions, and our goal right now is as simple as it was last year at this time and that's to win races."

Winning races was the key ingredient to the Fargo, ND racer's championship charge in 2006 as he won 17 WoO "A" features. On nights when he didn't win he was consistently racing near the front as evidenced by his 14 runner-up finishes. Schatz led the series with 42 top-five finishes, 49 top-ten finishes, nine fast-time awards, and led 441 laps last year.

"Consistency was something that we worked towards for a long time," continued Schatz, who is coming off a 21-win season including his first Knoxville Nationals victory. "Last year was my tenth year on the road and we used a lot of that experience to help us reach the championship. Now that we've earned our first championship, we're not going to be satisfied. I feel like we've still got a lot to accomplish. Nothing would make me happier than winning another Outlaws title and repeating at Knoxville."

The ParkerStore team that was so consistent last year that the familiar yellow and black No. 15 J&J with Shaver powered only failed to finish the feature event on two occasions. Schatz Motorsports has reshuffled its crew members with Dave Lawrence being added to lead the team as crew chief with a goal of maintaining that consistency.

Lawrence has been involved in racing for a good part of his life and has a specialty in the engine performance area. He has worked with a number of winning sprint car teams through the years including the famous Zemco teams when the late Kevin Gobrecht and current NASCAR star Kasey Kahne had a lot of success and more recently toured the Outlaws with Tim Shaffer and the Roth Motorsports team.

"I'm really looking forward to this opportunity," said Lawrence. "I had the chance a few years ago to be on the road with an Outlaw team, and I understand what it takes to be successful. I wanted an opportunity to be part of something special. Donny is an amazing driver and I'm totally confident in the equipment we've got here. This is the defending championship team and I know the pressure is on for us to stay on top. We can't wait to get started and our goal is to keep building on their championship form."

Schatz is pleased with how his new team has worked together during the off season preparing for the 2007 campaign.

"My guys have worked extremely hard to make sure we are ready to hit the ground running in Florida," continued Schatz. "They've put in some really long hours, but also have found a way to enjoy each other's company. This is a hard lifestyle, but everything they do is really important to our success."

CORPORATE PARTNERS

The Schatz Motorsports No. 15 will continue to include longtime sponsor ParkerStore as they embark on their 90 plus nights of racing this year. ParkerStore joined the team in 1999 and will continue to be a corporate partner in 2007.

"We're thrilled to extend our relationship with ParkerStore," said Schatz. "They had a group of people come to Las Vegas last fall and celebrated the championship with us. Our relationship continues to grow and the awareness we have of what they do and them learning more and more of what we do only strengthens our ability to promote one another. We are glad to be associated with them as they make the best products in their industry and we'd like to think that we are the best race team in our industry."

Bellerud Transport and Petro will once provide assistance to the team this year and will be joined by the leader in the tool industry Snap-on Tools, which will be an associate sponsor for the upcoming season.

"Working with Snap-on is going to be great for us," continued Schatz. "We've always been end users of their products and they certainly are the best tools out there. We're looking forward to having a good relationship with Snap-on and really looking forward to using their tools."

For the third consecutive season, Schatz will begin his season in Florida competing at Volusia Speedway Park. The half mile dirt oval will host the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop, February 9-11. In both of the last two years, the ParkerStore team has experienced good and not so good results.

In the 2005 season opener, Schatz looked to be on his way to victory after taking the lead on lap five and pulling away from the field in the 30-lap event. A mechanical problem ended his run on lap 15 causing him to finish 19th. The following night Schatz qualified 24th and was able to race to a 15th place finish.

Last season, Schatz and his ParkerStore team began the season by competing in an All-Star Circuit of Champions event at VSP. The night turned out well as he chased down Chad Kemenah and went on to score his first career All-Star win. The following night was the 2006 Outlaws season opener, and he chased Kemenah again, but he wasn't able to make a move for the win on the rubber down surface and finished second. The next evening, Schatz was the final car to qualify and he turned the fastest lap in the field of 36 cars. He started the 30-lap feature 11th and worked his way into the top five before having a tire problem. He came back to finish 14th.

"We're pumped to get there," continued Schatz. "I'm excited to return to a high speed race track since I've spent most of the winter racing in Australia on mid range tracks. I like the higher speed tracks."

"We definitely want to start well, but we understand Florida is one of those places where you can have the attitude of what happens in Florida stays in Florida. The tracks have a lot of sand in the dirt making them pretty unique, and so many cars are there because everyone is ready to get racing. Anything can happen."

"You can't judge your whole year by it, because we were able to come back from a bad run there last year and still win the championship. Hopefully, we can come out and be in position to get to victory lane two or three nights. We're going to give it our best and see what happens."

-credit: pst

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Kasey Kahne , Donny Schatz , Chad Kemenah