Parkerstore Team looks to rekindle fire at Williams Grove MECHANICSBURG, PA (MAY 15) - In the past, Williams Grove Speedway gave Donny Schatz nightmares during his visits with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws. All of that changed in September 2000...
Parkerstore Team looks to rekindle fire at Williams Grove
MECHANICSBURG, PA (MAY 15) - In the past, Williams Grove Speedway gave Donny Schatz nightmares during his visits with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws. All of that changed in September 2000 when Schatz drove his #15 ParkerStore sprint car to victory in the prestigious Williams Grove National Open.
Even though Schatz called the win a "huge upset", he and Crew Chief Kenny Woodruff proved they were more than formidable as they won three of the six Pennzoil World of Outlaws races at "the Grove" in 2001. Also considering they had a second place finish, after leading 25 of 30 laps, to go along with a third in the National Open last September, the team has a sweet spot for the famous half-mile in Central PA, where they will compete on Thursday and Friday night.
"I sure wouldn't have guessed a few years ago that I'd be looking forward to going to Williams Grove," said Schatz, a 24-year-old WoO star from Fargo, ND. "In the past, I'd miss features because of the competition there, and I simply didn't have the right setup. Since KW joined our team, we've been awesome. With the way things have been going for us this year anything is possible, but I like our chances of be competitive."
Last May, Schatz, who finished fifth in the WoO standings in 2001, passed Danny Lasoski early in the preliminary feature and led the final 23 laps to score the win. The following night, he drove his ParkerStore J&J to victory in the Channellock Dash and earned the pole position. Just as the field was set for the nationally televised feature event, mother nature came away the winner after a steady rain forced officials to postpone the feature event. At the time, Schatz couldn't have been more frustrated because the car was a rocket, and he was hoping to show everyone that he wasn't going to be stopped.
Ironically, the make-up event came in July and that night turned out to be one of the best in his five year WoO career. The "May feature" was made up following the regularly scheduled preliminary program. Schatz kept his winning streak alive by claiming the 25-lap preliminary feature and then doubled up by leading the entire make-up feature.
"That was an awesome night," recalled Schatz. "We wanted to win on TV in May, because you just never know how long you can keep winning races. It just worked out that we were on top of our game both times we went to "the Grove". I was hoping for the tri-fecta the next night, but we came up about five laps short and finished second."
When the team returned for the National Open last September, Woodruff had the car fast as Schatz earned the fast-time award. He chased Lance Dewease for most of the race before finishing third.
The 2002 WoO season hasn't been what Schatz was hoping for. Second place finishes in Houston and Talladega, where he led 26 of 40 laps, have been the highlights, but after winning 10 WoO races last season, the team expects to be finishing better.
"We've had a tough start and made a lot of changes," said Schatz, who currently ranks eighth in the WoO standings. "When things aren't going right, you have to try something different and that's what we've done. We know that going to Williams Grove means that we'll be facing an incredibly tough field, and that we'll have to be at the top of our game to be competitive. The good thing is we know what it takes to win there, and it's just a matter of putting it all together. That's our goal."
The ParkerStore team will conclude the weekend of racing with a one-night event at Hagerstown (MD) Speedway on Saturday. With it's proximity to the nation's capitol, Schatz is hoping to have some added support from fellow North Dakotan, US Senator Byron Dorgan. "It's great to have Senator Dorgan at the track with us and hopefully, he'll be able to make it over again this year."