Schatz, Parkerstore Team return to Topeka eyeing repeat. FARGO, ND - When the Pennzoil World of Outlaws christened the O'Reilly Auto Parts Motor Speedway at Heartland Park Topeka last season, it was all about patience. Donny Schatz had to slow...
Schatz, Parkerstore Team return to Topeka eyeing repeat.
FARGO, ND - When the Pennzoil World of Outlaws christened the O'Reilly Auto Parts Motor Speedway at Heartland Park Topeka last season, it was all about patience. Donny Schatz had to slow down to go fast as he won the 35-lap Sunflower Shootout by running the low groove to claim the "A" Feature on the 3/8-mile oval.
Patience isn't something most would think is involved in Sprint Car Racing, but Schatz and his ParkerStore team must remain patient in this weekend's 97 Country Outlaw Nationals if they are going to repeat last year's victory.
"Winning at any racetrack gives you a little relief knowing that you were good enough to do it once there," said Schatz, who calls Fargo, ND home. "Everything has to work for you to win with the Outlaws. They built a nice racetrack in Topeka, and last year it was a finesse racetrack. I'm probably more known for the 'stand on the gas' type tracks where you pound the cushion, but it was big for me to win a race like that and hopefully, we'll be in a position to do it again."
In last year's event, Schatz and the Outlaws broke in the state-of-art 3/8-mile dirt oval facility, and Schatz steered his #15 ParkerStore J&J to victory lane in a program that was completed by 8:30 PM because of severe weather. Schatz finished third in the preliminary feature and started fourth in the 35-lap finale. In that race, he chased early leader Craig Dollansky for 16 laps before taking command. The win was his fifth of the season and he would go on to win five more WoO features last season.
"We're expecting the track conditions to be similar," said Schatz. "You never know. Last weekend we raced at Farmer City, a track that has taken rubber the past two years, and we had a great track that was racy all night. We'll take a look at the track when we get there and make some observations and go from there."
The ParkerStore team, which is still looking for their first feature event victory after 35 starts in 2002, has been on the verge of reaching victory lane three times this season finishing second all three times. In March at Houston Raceway Park, Schatz chased down leader Mark Kinser, but his last lap effort came up .012 seconds short as the two crossed the finish line side by side.
In April, Schatz took the lead in the "A" feature at the Talladega Short Track and the post for 26 of the 40 laps, but with two laps remaining two lapped cars blocked the track and Danny Lasoski dove underneath him and took the win.
Last Friday, Schatz started the Farmer City Raceway "A" Feature in third and when the race reached its halfway stage, he took advantage of trouble the leaders had and pulled next to race leader Stevie Smith. A yellow flag came out moments later, and his best chance to take the lead was gone. He did continue his charge, but never got that close to Smith again.
"We've been up there a couple of times, but we've just come up short," continued Schatz. "The first one is the toughest one to win and once you get that one you can start working on the next one. It's been a struggle to get it this year, and obviously, we're still looking to get a win under our belts."
Consistency has been the key of late as the team has eight top ten finishes in the last ten races, which included a run of four straight top five finishes. In 35 starts, Schatz has 10 top five finishes, 22 top ten's, one O'Reilly Dash victory and one Fast Qualifier award.
Racing in Kansas also gives the team a chance to race near the headquarters of one of their sponsors, Blue Beacon Truck Washes, which has headquarters in Salina, KS. "We race all over the country, but it's nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd," explained Schatz. "Blue Beacon has been helping this race team since I was a rookie in 1997, and I can't thank them enough for their support. A good run this weekend would certainly make both them and us happy."