A Perfect Ending: Donny Schatz Wraps up Championship with a Victory in Season Finale at Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV--Oct. 28, 2006 -- Donny Schatz didn't look at the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship point standings very often this season.
A Perfect Ending: Donny Schatz Wraps up Championship with a Victory in Season Finale at Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV--Oct. 28, 2006 -- Donny Schatz didn't look at the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship point standings very often this season. In fact you could probably count on one hand the number of times that he did glance at them. The only number he cared about on the stats sheet was the number of wins that he had. He believed that as long as he kept winning races, the points would take care of themselves.
Schatz picked up his first win of the season on March 9 at The Dirt Track
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the same day he took the lead in the point standings. This was a lead that he would never relinquish through the remainder of the season en route to claiming the 2006 World of Outlaws Sprint Series title.
The native of Fargo, North Dakota capped off his title winning season by picking up the final checkered flag of the season at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, for his series best 17th A Feature win of the season.
He began the night by setting fast time of the 39 cars that took time on the spacious half-mile. Schatz backed that up with a very solid second place run in his heat race that qualified him for the dash, where he would earn the sixth starting spot in the A-Feature.
Schatz aboard the Parker Store J&J started sixth on Saturday night, and quickly made his way to fourth on the first lap, and then worked his way into the runner-up spot. After running second for a couple laps, he looked low on Brooke Tatnell on the eighth lap and briefly took the lead in turn two, but Tatnell powered his way back around Schatz to retain the lead heading down the back straight-a-way. On the following lap, Schatz used the exact same move on the low side of turn two to make the pass for the lead and ultimately the win. He then weaved his way through traffic to make his way to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
"This is what we were shooting for," said Schatz, the 1997 series rookie of the year. "You have to set yourself high, and we set ourselves high for a lot of wins and we got a lot of wins. You always want more, but it was a great year and we did what we wanted to do. We finally won a championship and did it in style. We did it winning races, and had a little luck too. We were very consistent and that is what makes it fun."
Tatnell, who won the preliminary feature on Friday night, started from the pole and led the first eight laps, before finishing second in the Race Outfitters Schnee. While Schatz was running the low side of the track, he was riding the rim. After rolling to a stop on the front straight-a-way for post-race festivities, Tatnell immediately walked over to Schatz and congratulated him on the win and the championship.
"It's a little disappointing," said Tatnell, who finished the year sixth in driver points and fifth in team points. "We had a good car, and we ran the top, and Donny (Schatz) got by us on the bottom. I debated going back to the bottom, but was trying to keep my rhythm up high and get to lapped cars. I dropped to the bottom on the last three laps and we made inroads."
Daryn Pittman started 12th in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim and charged all the way to third at the finish. The finish was redemption for the native of Owasso, Oklahoma, whose night ended on the first lap Friday with a broken U-joint after starting on the outside of the front row.
"It was a great run," said Pittman, who wound up fourth in the final season standings. "We had a great car all weekend. We just had a parts failure last night, and unfortunately that is part of the sport. I think we had a good chance to win last night and if we would have been in the Top-four, that would have put us in a better position tonight. To come from 12th to third is a great way to finish the year."
Joey Saldana, driving the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI powered his way to a fourth place finish after starting the race in the 14th spot. He finished third in series points on the strength of seven A-Feature wins for his Kasey Kahne Racing team.
Paul McMahan in the Bass Pro Shops Eagle rounded out the Top-five, after finishing fourth on Friday night in the preliminary feature.
Tony Bruce Jr. in the Best Well Services Eagle picked up his best career World of Outlaws finish in the sixth spot. Jac Haudenschild charged from the 20th starting spot to come home seventh in the Wright One Construction Maxim. Justin Henderson was eighth in the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee. Jeremy Campbell was ninth in the Americas Best Value Inn Maxim. Chad Kemenah, the 2006 winner of the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, rounded out the Top-10 in the Underground Utilities Inc./RacinSoles.com Eagle.
While it took a few extra sets of hot laps to get the track worked in, most of the driver's raved about the condition of the track for the 30-lap A-Feature. Two and three-wide racing was seen most of the night by the enthusiastic fans.
"The race track was really good come feature time," said Schatz. "Brooke (Tatnell) ran the top real well and we ran the bottom well. A couple of times I went around lapped cars using the middle. It was a great night. Anytime you can race from sixth, you get to see a good show."
Pittman who has raced at Las Vegas a number of times was speechless after the checkered flag flew, knowing how competitive the surface was and what a good show it put on for the fans.
"They have never had a better race track than they had tonight," said Pittman. "It was a great track and the racing seemed to be pretty good. It had a top and a bottom, both, and it did not rubber up. It was an excellent race track. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully we can come back here in the future."
With Schatz right on his tail tank in the first third of the race, Tatnell continued to run the high line. He believes it was a disadvantage to be leading on the always fast half-mile. The cars running behind him were able to analyze where he was running on the track and determine if it was worth the risk for them to go to the high side of to make the bottom work.
"That's the problem with leading, you have nothing to gauge off," said Tatnell. "I thought we were pretty decent. Congratulations to Donny (Schatz) it was a great way for him to go out as the new World of Outlaws Champion. I'm just proud to be part of this whole Rush Racing team and operation."
For Schatz who also won the Knoxville Nationals this season, after finishing second in the famed event four times, the title was extra special knowing how hard his family has worked to achieve this success.
"It's the most gratifying to win the title with the family team," said Schatz. "Family is what got me to where I am today. My dad has prepared me mentally for racing, and taught me how to race by making me aware of my mistakes. It takes somebody like that. Guys who have never had that are very unfortunate compared to me. I'm very lucky to have a father that is very successful in business and he can see what is going on, on the race track. He never got to race at this level, but he made sure I had everything that it took to win. He knows where my heart is and his heart is in the same spot too. He knows what it takes to win and he will do what it takes to win. It's very rewarding and we are very excited to win the title as a family. Hopefully we will be able to do it again as a family."
While he knows that is now considered a veteran driver, Schatz looks back to his early days in the sport and fondly recalls learning from the drivers that had competed at many of the tracks he had never seen.
"I've spent a lot of time out here learning," said Schatz. "I have raced with all these guys for 10 years, and you learn a lot of things from everybody that you race with. It's been my time this year. It's been my time to do my thing, and apply some of the things that I have learned from everybody over the last 10 years. That's what really makes it fun, that it is a really focused situation. Now that I have been to this point, I don't want to stay out here just to be a fixture, and that is why some guys have won this 20 times. They just have that determination, and I have that determination to do what it takes to win the championship, not just once but try to do it again next year. We're excited to get back home and see if we can't get things organized and get a little better, so that next spring we can do it all over again."
Heading into the off-season, Schatz and his team have plenty of momentum, and can relish their 2006 season and all the success that they had. They finished in the Top-five an amazing 42 times, along with setting fast time on nine occasions along with winning eight dashes to earn eight pole positions.
"We feel good to win the last race of the year," Schatz commented. "We can feel good about the win and the championship all winter."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series wraps up the 2006 season on Sunday October 29 with their awards banquet at The Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
THE DIRT TRACK @ LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK NIGHT #2
* FAST QUALIFIER: Donny Schatz paced the 39 cars that took time with an AMB i.t.-timed lap around the 1/2-mile semi-banked oval at 14.173 seconds at 127.002 mph. Because the season finale at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is a multi-day show with varying championship point totals on each night, no qualifying bonus points are awarded. Danny Lasoski holds the track record of 13.719 seconds established on March 4, 2004.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Jeremy Campbell, Terry McCarl, Joey Saldana, and Jason Solwold. ...Chad Hillier won the B-Main. ... Brooke Tatnell won the dash.
* FEATURE WINNERS: There have been 16 different winners in 56 A-feature events to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. The win list includes: Donny Schatz (March 9 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31 at Batesville Speedway, April 1 at I-55 Raceway, May 16 at Grandview Speedway, May 30 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, June 18 at Red River Valley Speedway, June 30 at 81 Speedway, July 18 at Lernerville Speedway, July 23 at Lebanon Valley Speedway, July 25 at Fulton Speedway, August 5 at K-C Raceway, August 17 at Black Hills Speedway, Sept.. 15 at Eagle Raceway, Sept. 16 at Jackson Speeedway, Oct. 7 at Knoxville Raceway, Oct. 21 at USA Race Park, and Oct. 28 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Joey Saldana (Feb.10 at Volusia, June 4 at Terre Haute, June 23 at Knoxville Raceway, July 1 at Dodge City Raceway Park, July 13 at Limaland Motorsports Park, July 15 at Eldora Speedway, and August 4 at Eldora Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway, May 20 at Sharon Speedway, June 14 at The Raceway @ Powercom Park, and July 7 at Lawrenceburg Speedway), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway, June 4 at Eldora Speedway, July 14 at Eldora Speedway, Aug. 2 at Butler Speedway, Sept. 3 at Calistoga Speedway, and Sept. 24 at Kokomo Speedway), Daryn Pittman (June 10 at Eagle Raceway, July 22 at Williams Grove, July 29 at Princeton Speedway, Sept. 9 at Silver Dollar Speedway, and Oct. 20 at Manzanita Speedway), Brooke Tatnell (May 7 at Huset's Speedway, May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway, July 8 at I-55 Raceway, and August 26 at Skagit Speedway), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita, August 30 at Southern Oregon Speedway) Terry McCarl (July 3 at Huset's Speedway and August 19 at Nodak Speedway), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Mark Dobmeier (Oct. 14 at Wilmot), Doug Esh (Sept. 30 at Williams Grove) Dean Jacobs (May 31 at Lernerville Speedway), Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Fred Rahmer (May 27 at Williams Grove), and Kevin Swindell (May 24 at The Dirt at Lowe's Motor Speedway).
* PRELIMINARY FEATURE WINNERS: There have been 13 preliminary features run this season by the World of Outlaws. The winners list includes: Daryn Pittman who won the prelim night at Eagle Raceway on June 9, and at Princeton Speedway on July 28, Donny Schatz who won the prelim night June 17 at Red River Valley and at Skagit Speedway on August 25, Craig Dollansky who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on July 21 and at Silver Dollar Speedway on Sept. 8, Jason Solwold who won at Silver Dollar Speedway on Sept. 8 and at Williams Grove on Sept. 29 Danny Lasoski who won the prelim night at Calistoga on Sept. 2, Terry McCarl who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on July 20, Fred Rahmer who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on May 26, and Sammy Swindell who won the prelim night at Eldora Speedway on April 7, and Brooke Tatnell who won the prelim night at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 27.
*1/2-MILE WINNERS: The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a semi-banked 1/2-mile oval. The World of Outlaws Sprint Series has raced 28 times this season on half-mile tracks, including preliminary features. Winners include: Donny Schatz (Las Vegas, twice at Red River Valley, Lebanon Valley, Jackson, Knoxville, and The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Joey Saldana (Volusia, Terre Haute, Knoxville, and twice at Eldora), Craig Dollansky (Twice at Eldora, Williams Grove, and Calistoga), Sammy Swindell (Las Vegas and twice at Eldora Speedway), Danny Lasoski (Manzanita and Calistoga), Doug Esh (Williams Grove) Chad Kemenah (Volusia), Terry McCarl (Williams Grove), Daryn Pittman (Williams Grove and Manzanita), and Jason Solwold (Williams Grove), and Brooke Tatnell (The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway).
* ON TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will re-air at 8 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday November 1, the event from Skagit (Wash.) Speedway from August 26. On Wednesday November 8, the finale of the two-day event at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway will air at 8 p.m. Eastern. Outdoor Channel is available nationwide through the DISH Network (Channel 153) and DIRECTV (Channel 606)..
* UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws Sprint Series Championship Award Banquet in Las Vegas on Sunday October 29.