SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM LOOK TO FINISH 2007 WITH A BANG FARGO, N.D. (October 29) When Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore team left North Dakota last February they had a plan for the 2007 World of Outlaws season. They were looking to win the most...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM LOOK TO FINISH 2007 WITH A BANG
FARGO, N.D. (October 29) When Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore team left North Dakota last February they had a plan for the 2007 World of Outlaws season. They were looking to win the most races of any team on the Outlaw tour. The feeling was if they accomplished that one goal that they'd be in line for a second consecutive championship.
This weekend, the 2007 WoO season will conclude with the World Finals in Charlotte, and Schatz, who leads the series with 19 wins and has a 115-point advantage in the championship standings, will race his No. 15 Global ParkerStore/Tom Johnson Camping Center sponsored J&J with Shaver-built Chevrolet power aiming to win two more races.
"It's always been a fact that the guy that wins the most races has the best chance to be the champion," said Schatz, who is concluding his 11th season with the Outlaws. "We talked in Florida about having a (Doug) Wolfgang-type season where we would win just about everywhere. We were hoping to join 'The King' (Steve Kinser) and get 30 Outlaw wins in a season, but we didn't quite make it. I guess we'll just see if we can win number 20 on Friday."
The winning began in season's first race for Schatz as he set the tone for the 2007 campaign with his opening night triumph at Volusia Speedway Park on February 9. The wins seemed to come in bunches as he picked up back-to-back victories five times and twice made it a three-race winning streak. His sweep of the "Month of Money" this summer was a major statement. The three-race winning streak beginning with his fourth National Open triumph at Williams Grove Speedway on September 29 and was followed by victories in Princeton (MN) and Tulare (CA) spearheaded his charged towards another championship as his lead in the standings grew from 73 points to more than 100. He hasn't finished outside the top ten since August 14th, and the consistency the team has shown through 73 events, 51 top five finishes and 69 top ten runs, is remarkable.
"We've been greedy all season, so there's no reason to change that this week," continued Schatz, who has won the Outlaws' season finale three times in his career (1999, 2004 and 2006). "There's only two more races this year and we want to win them both. There's nothing like winning that last race of the year and having that feeling throughout the winter.
"The track in Charlotte is always a little bit different and racing in the same program with the Late Models might make it even more of a guessing game. We're heading down there looking to finish this incredible season with two more exciting nights."
Schatz has raced in all 15 World of Outlaws events at the Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The Fargo, N.D. resident has a pair of victories on the super-fast four tenths mile clay oval, his first came on October 5, 2000 and he won again earlier this year at the track. His stats also include nine top five finishes and 11 top ten finishes.
In the May 25th race at the Dirt Track, Schatz put on a memorable run in his ParkerStore sprinter. With a very tacky track where passing was a premium, Schatz found his own groove to the front by going to the top of the track above the existing cushion. He first made it work following a lap nine restart where he went from fifth to second place in one lap, but a yellow negated the start. He found the line again, worked his way back up to second and promptly stalked leader Paul McMahan during the second half of the race. Schatz made his winning move with three laps remaining to pick up his second career win at the track.
Saturday night's finale will air live on SPEED beginning at 8 p.m. (et). The television cameras have brought out the best in Schatz and his team as they have finished in the top ten in all 18 races that aired on TV this year. He won six races that were televised including four of the biggest races of the year: the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal, National Open and Silver Cup. He also won the inaugural Super Clean Summer of Money series on ESPN2.
CHAMPIONSHIP WITHIN REACH
With a 115-point advantage heading into the final two points races, Schatz only has to start the feature event each night to earn his second consecutive WoO championship.
He is looking to join sprint car legends Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell as the only drivers to ever win back-to-back WoO crowns. Kinser won the first three titles from 1978 to 1980, Swindell won back-to-back in 1981 and 1982, before Kinser reeled off six straight from 1983 through 1988. Kinser won five straight from 1990 through 1994 and then won four straight from 2002 through 2005.
The battle between Schatz and Joey Saldana has been tight all season. Schatz took the lead by winning the season opener and led through the first ten events. Saldana took command for the four races with his largest lead being 12 points following the April 6th race at Paducah International Raceway.
Schatz regained the top spot on April 21 at Tri-State Speedway and has held it since. During June and July, he held a lead of more than 100 points three different times with the largest lead being 125 points on July 25th following the Outlaws first visit to Oshweken Speedway in Canada.
Saldana closed the gap to 19 points heading into the Gold Cup Race of Champions in early September, but the defending series champion used a strong surge during the last 11 races to build the lead back to 115 markers.
On only four occasions in Outlaws history has the points race been determined by less than 100 points. In 1978, the first year of the series, Steve Kinser won by 54 points over Rick Ferkel. The closest race to the finish came in 2001 when Danny Lasoski edged Mark Kinser by only 30 points. Mark beat Lasoski in 1999 by 71 points and in 1998, Steve held off Mark by 93 points.
The World Finals will conclude the long and grueling World of Outlaws season after criss-crossing the country several times and racing more than 80 nights during the past nine months. Without the commitment from his crew, a second title wouldn't be within reach. Shane Bowers, who joined the team in March 2006, is ready to earn his second championship with Schatz Motorsports while Dave Lawrence, who joined the team in November 2006, is eyeing his first crown. Ricky Warner, who works for Tony Stewart Racing, has helped the team since July and was part of the crew that helped Schatz win last year's title.
"There's no way we would be where we are without everyone having the whatever it takes attitude," said Schatz. "Shane and Dave have been working their tales off since last December to get us here. Ricky's been a big asset since he got hooked up with TSR and started helping us in the middle of the year."
"The amount of hours, miles and time these guys have put in is pretty incredible. It's hard to find dedicated people that are willing to give it their all night in and night out. They've also stayed on top of their game even when the days have run together. When you have only two DNF's all season, and one was a blown tire, that tells you that these guys paid attention to all the details and helped us be there every night. I'm really proud of this team."
"I'd like to thank everyone that has been associated with our team through the years," said Schatz. "We've always tried to do our best and the past couple of years have been a great ride. Everyone that works with this team enjoys the fact that we work with some of the best manufacturers in the business, but also that we've become friends with many of them through the years as well."