LAS VEGAS, NV ~ November 1, 2003 ~ Donny Schatz left no doubt in anyone's mind that he and the #15 ParkerStores Shaver J & J team will be the combination to beat for the World of Outlaws championship in 2004. Starting on the outside of row four in the 30-lap final A-Main of the 2003 season, Schatz claimed second with a high move around Steve Kinser in turn four of the final lap. Schatz and the newly crowned and 18 time WoO champion crossed under the waving dual checkered flags banging wheels which brought the capacity crowd to their feet as Schatz held the position by less that the length of the front wing. Danny Lasoski won the race completing a sweep of the two-night event.
Friday night's opening event began as somewhat of a R & D event for the ParkerStores team. In preparation for the Australian tour, Schatz hit the track for hotlaps with a new motor and fuel system in the #15. On the first lap of his qualifying effort, a mechanical failure occurred sending Schatz to the pits without completing his first lap. According to WoO rules governing missing your scheduled spot in the qualifying order, Schatz was granted one lap at the end of qualifying that landed him 30th of the 50 cars on hand for the event.
Rather than attempt repairs on the new power plant, the team changed motors which made them unable to present the car for the heat race relegating him to the B-Feature. Schatz lined up in the tenth starting spot and won the B by a full straight giving him the 24th starting position in the A-main as a result of his qualifying time.
Schatz took his usual high line at the start of the race and began his methodical maneuvering toward the front. When the checkered flew on the 25-lap A-main, he was in 12th and the fastest car on the track.
Saturday's event began in a more positive manner for Schatz in the ParkerStores team the fifth quickest time of the night. His fourth place finish in his heat landed him in the dash to determine the first four rows starting order for the feature. Starting in the rear of the five lap race was a valuable opportunity for the North Dakota driver to experiment with the car finding where he was fastest on the track and how well he would run in the low, middle and high grooves.
At the drop of the green, Schatz dove in to turn one in fifth but surrendered the spot to Craig Dollansky in turn four as Dollansky got a great drive off the corner. Schatz grabbed the spot back the next circuit and then went to work on fourth place Joey Saldana.
Moving ahead of Saldana on the 15th lap setting his sites on Sammy Swindell, Kinser and Lasoski. After passing Swindell twice for the third spot only to have the yellow flag wave sending the restart order back to that of the previous lap, Schatz completed the pass on the 17th lap and began to hunt down the leaders, Lasoski and Kinser who were engaged in their own great battle.
Riding the rim, Schatz ran down Kinser to stage the great final lap contest to the finish line.
"It was an awesome night for this ParkerStores team," said Schatz. "My guys gave me a tremendous car tonight. I think I could have caught them a little sooner if the yellows hadn't come just as I would move forward a spot but that is part of this type of racing.
"That last lap with Steve (Kinser) was just too fun, for both of us. We both had our elbows up and were going to give it all we had whether we wrecked or finished. I love that kind of competition.
"We are definitely pumped up for next season. I feel like 2004 will be the best opportunity we have had to make a serious run at the championship. I am ready to go right now." Following the World of Outlaws championship banquet Sunday night at the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas, Schatz heads back to Fargo to make the final arrangements for his upcoming nuptials. The annual Performance Racing Industries trade show in Indianapolis will be next of the agenda followed by his annual trek to the Land Down Under.
For the latest information on Donny Schatz and the ParkerStores team plus great deals on merchandise, log on to www.donnyschatz.com.