LIGHTS. CAMERA. ACTION. Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart Racing Ready To Showcase Sprint Car Racing During the Biggest Weekend in Motorsports INDIANAPOLIS (May 20, 2008) -- When the lights are the brightest, Sprint car racing star Donny Schatz...
LIGHTS. CAMERA. ACTION.
Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart Racing Ready To Showcase Sprint Car Racing During the Biggest Weekend in Motorsports
INDIANAPOLIS (May 20, 2008) -- When the lights are the brightest, Sprint car racing star Donny Schatz seems to shine the most. Last season, the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series racer won nearly every major race en route to his second consecutive WoO championship, including a thriller last May in the heart of NASCAR country.
The goal for Schatz this year is to continue his recent success after joining Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) as the driver of the No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J. Schatz and his fellow Outlaw competitors will help kick off the biggest weekend in motorsports on Friday night at the Rite Aid Outlaws Showdown at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The series will continue its nomadic-like schedule with events on Saturday night at Virginia Motor Speedway, in Jamaica, Va., and Monday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y.
The recurring theme during the first four months of the 2008 WoO schedule has been the difficulty Mother Nature has presented. With 14 of the first 21 races already being affected by rain, Schatz is hoping to add to the nine events that are in the books thus far. Last season, the Outlaws had 24 races completed by the time the Charlotte event was held in May.
Since the first WoO race at The Dirt Track on May 25, 2000, the annual treks south have been an early season highlight for Schatz. The Fargo, N.D., resident scored his first victory at the track on October 5, 2000, in the third-ever race for the Outlaws at the 4/10-mile clay oval. Schatz won again last year (May 25), passing the TSR No. 20 Bass Pro Shops entry for the lead on lap 27 of the 30-lap race. Friday's event will be his 18th appearance on the red clay where he has two wins, 11 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. Schatz has led 62 feature event laps and earned a pair of fast qualifier awards.
Saturday night marks the WoO series' debut at the high-banked, half-mile Virginia Motor Speedway layout.
Monday's stop at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, a 5/8-mile semi-banked dirt oval located in upstate New York, takes Schatz to a track where he has two wins and six top-four finishes in nine career starts. His first win came on June 2, 2004, and he returned to victory lane there on May 30, 2006. Steve Kinser won last year's event at Rolling Wheels (May 28, 2007) while Schatz came home third.
The two-time defending WoO champion is coming off a thrilling charge from 17th to second on Thursday night at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Through nine completed events in 2008, Schatz maintains the third position in the WoO standings with 1,294 points, trailing leader Jason Meyers by seven. He has one victory, five second-place finishes, a seventh-place run and a pair of eighth-place finishes.
Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
What are your thoughts on returning to Charlotte, where you won last May and clinched your second championship last November?
"Racing down in Charlotte is always a blast. On the schedule it looks like just another race, but there's something about racing in that kind of environment. The past couple of years, they've had standing-room-only crowds and the racing has been pretty good, as well. I can still remember winning for the first time down there in 2000. And last May, we finally got the job done there, again. Ironically, we were fighting it out with the Bass Pro Shops team for that win and now we're heading down there as teammates this year.
"I know there will be a lot of people at the race. We'll have some Armor All and Chevy people there with us and you know a lot of the NASCAR guys like to come over and check things out. It's big for our sport to have a showcase event like this in front some pretty important people. Throw in the fact that it's going to be live on national television and that even adds to the build-up.
"My guys are working hard to give me a good race car for Charlotte. The place is fast and we'll hopefully be able to start the night by qualifying well like we did last fall. From there, it'll be all about getting to the front. This is one of those races that everyone wants to win and we're going to do everything we can to win it for Tony Stewart Racing and all the great people associated with us."
Saturday's race at Virginia Motor Speedway will be the first time you've raced there. What challenges do you deal with when racing at a place for the first time?
"There are several things you look at the first time you go somewhere new. Obviously, I've been racing for a long time and have been to a ton of places. And then, you factor in what Jimmy Carr (TSR No. 20 Bass Pro crew chief) and Ricky Warner (TSR No. 15 Armor All crew chief) know from all of their experience you've got a pretty good head start. You try to compare the track to another place where you've been and look up what you did there. Gears, stagger, torsion bars and tires are the basics. And then you go out and hot-lap and see where you're at. One thing you've got to do is pay attention to the racing surface. Sometimes, looks can be deceiving, and you don't want to guess wrong on what it's going to do at the end of the night.
"We're looking forward to going someplace new. I've heard some good stuff about Virginia Motor Speedway, and anytime we can go into a new market, it's a chance for us to gain some new fans."
New York has been pretty good to you the past few years. What's been the secret to your success there?
"I'm pretty sure there's not a secret. We've been fortunate to run well at some New York tracks and pick up some wins. Lebanon Valley and Rolling Wheels are big tracks where we get to take advantage of the Chevy horsepower. Rolling Wheels will slick up and slow down later in the night. That's where we have another advantage because we can get our cars stuck in the slick stuff and keep making good times. We're hoping to get another win in New York this week and come back later in the summer and get a couple more."