Schatz, ParkerStores Team aim for elusive NAPS Classic. KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz cleared a big hurdle last August at the legendary Knoxville Raceway when he took his ...
Schatz, ParkerStores Team aim for elusive NAPS Classic.
KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz cleared a big hurdle last August at the legendary Knoxville Raceway when he took his #15 ParkerStores J&J sprint car to victory lane after numerous runner-up finishes at the famed half-mile dirt track. Schatz, who will compete in this weekend's NAPA Classic at Knoxville, had two of those runner-up finishes in the past two NAPA Classic events and this weekend, he's shooting to finish one spot better.
"We've always been pretty good at Knoxville in the Classic events," said Schatz, the 24 year-old driver from Fargo, ND. "It was getting frustrating coming close so many times and not winning. It's a lot like what we are going through this season with the Outlaws. We've had a number of second place finishes, but we're still working on that first win. Our goal this weekend is to be there at the end with a chance. I know in the last two years we've gotten to the front, on Friday night last year and on Saturday night two years ago, but we didn't finish the job."
Schatz enters this weekend's event with four second place finishes in 2002. The team has been consistent lately with 12 top ten finishes in the last 17 races, with eight of those finishes being in the top five. Schatz is locked into to a tight battle in the WoO points with Stevie Smith and Tim Shaffer. He is currently 7th, but trails Smith by four points and leads Shaffer by 10. All three are chasing Joey Saldana for fifth who is 65 points ahead of Schatz.
Schatz, who earned the pole position for last year's Knoxville Nationals, knows that the points will take car of themselves if the team can get on a roll like they did on two occasions last year.
"It's so hard to get that first one," continued Schatz, who won 10 WoO races and the Kele World Challenge last season. "Winning here was always a dream and last August we really had things going our way. Unfortunately, the Nationals didn't end up how we hoped, but I've got a lot of confidence in this ParkerStore team. (Crew Chief) Kenny (Woodruff) and (Crewman) Shane (Anderson) have been working really hard and we've got to keep at it."
"We've got to concentrate on how we're doing right now. We've got a lot of races coming up and we'd like to get on a good roll. Winning at Knoxville is huge, and I think if we can get one under our belt, it would be a huge boost."
In the past two Classic events, Schatz has flexed his muscles charging to the lead in both events. In 2000, he chased down early leader Johnny Herrera and took command, but then he and Stevie Smith exchanged the lead three times in the final four laps with Smith ending up first. Last year, Schatz stormed past Danny Lasoski in the Classic opener and led the race for five laps before Lasoski retook the lead in traffic. Schatz hounded him for the final 13 laps, but couldn't regain the top spot.
"Don't get me wrong finishing second isn't a bad thing, but you've got to finish first some times too," concluded Schatz. "Racing with the World of Outlaws is so tough when guys like Danny (Lasoski) and Steve (Kinser) are winning just about every other night. All we want is to get in there and take our share, too."