WINNING MATTERS Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Eyes Victories In Outlaws' Final 2009 Stops at Eldora Speedway and Lernerville Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 23, 2009) -- In racing, a split-second can make all the difference. It might be the...
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Eyes Victories In Outlaws' Final 2009 Stops at Eldora Speedway and Lernerville Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 23, 2009) -- In racing, a split-second can make all the difference. It might be the difference that determines the outcome in qualifying, or the distance separating two cars at the finish line. In this year's World of Outlaws (WoO) campaign, the competition has been so close, every night seems to come down to the smallest of margins between winning and losing. During the past three seasons, Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Donny Schatz built a comfortable points lead en route to capturing the series title. But this year, his championship chase seems to be following the theme of the WoO season. With the season points battle shaping up to be one of the closest in the series' 31-year history, winning races down the stretch, no matter the margin, may be all that counts.
Fortunately for Schatz, this weekend's schedule includes a pair of venues where the three-time and defending WoO champion has scored some of the biggest wins during his three previous championship crusades. Schatz will pilot the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J in Friday night's World of Outlaws portion of Eldora Speedway's Chevy Weekend. In July, Schatz won the $50,000 Kings Royal, at the Rossburg, Ohio, track owned by two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. Following Friday's race at Eldora will be a stop at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., where Schatz captured the 2006 and 2007 Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup races.
Winning races has been the goal throughout the 2009 WoO season, and Schatz's recent results at Eldora suggest his chances of capturing his 101st career Outlaws main event win are pretty good. In three starts this season at the famous high-banked, half-mile dirt oval, the Fargo, N.D., resident has a pair of wins and a second-place finish.
Since his 2007 Kings Royal triumph, Schatz has finished fourth or better in 10 of the 11 WoO races held at the track. The only finish outside the top-four came during the 2007 Chevy Weekend, when Schatz had a right-rear tire go flat while he was leading the race. His crew replaced the tire and he charged from 21st back to finish seventh. In each of the past two seasons, a May Outlaw triumph at "The Big E" has moved Schatz to the top of the of WoO standings.
After scoring consecutive victories (2006 and 2007) and a second-place finish (2008) in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, the 4/10-mile dirt oval track at Lernerville has become one of Schatz's favorites. Including the Twin 30's contested for this year's Don Martin Memorial event, Schatz has 27 starts at the famed western Pennsylvania track. He finished 10th in both races to build his streak of top-10 finishes there to 10. He has three career wins at Lernerville.
Schatz and the TSR Armor All team completed their 58th night of action with the Outlaws this season last Saturday night at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. In the 35-lap race, Schatz took the lead on lap six from his TSR teammate, Kraig Kinser, and led the next 27 laps before finishing in the runner-up spot by .273 seconds. It was the 10th time this season that he has finished second to go along with 12 victories, 36 top-five finishes and 47 top-10s. With nine races remaining, Schatz holds an 18-point advantage in the WoO Sprint Series championship standings with 7,900 points.
For Friday's event at Eldora, the pit gates open at 3 p.m. EDT and grandstands open at 3:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Eldora Speedway at (937) 338-3815, and more information is available at www.eldoraspeedway.com.
Saturday at Lernerville, the pit gates open at 4 p.m. EDT, and the grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. Tickets for the race can be purchased by calling Lernerville at (724) 353-1511. For more information, visit www.lernerville.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend's races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, "Voice of the Outlaws," calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
During the past few years, the schedule has brought the Outlaws back to Eldora late in the year, and you've been successful in those races. With your recent success at the track, you must be looking forward to another race there this year.
"It always feels good to go back to a racetrack that you have won at in the past. I couldn't be looking forward to going anywhere more than Eldora this weekend. Obviously, it's a big weekend with Chevy, and they are a major sponsor and marketing partner with Tony Stewart Racing. Any time we get to spend some time with the Chevy people and celebrate the races, we're happy.
"Hopefully we can keep pace with the Boss (Tony Stewart) over there. Last year, I won the May Outlaws race and then he won the Prelude. This year, I won the Kings Royal and he won the Prelude. I guess it's our turn to win again there.
"My crew (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) has given me a really good racecar there the past couple of years. Everyone likes racing at Eldora. We know it's going to take a good night all the way through for us to end up where we want."
Saturday's race at Lernerville Speedway is another event on a bigger track. You finished 10th in both of the Twin 30's for the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup. What is your outlook for Saturday's race?
"We really hope to challenge for the win. This year, they tried something new with the format for the Don Martin Memorial to give the fans a good show. We raced from 20th to 10th in the first feature and then really didn't make any progress in the second one. From our standpoint, it wasn't quite as fun as the past couple of years when ran a 40-lap race.
"We like Lernerville when it becomes slick through the middle and the cushion gets moved way up the track. That's when guys can race up through the field. A lot of that depends on the weather. If it's hot and dry, then the track has a better chance of getting that way. It's been a while since we've raced there late in the year, so we'll just have to see what happens.
"We're excited to get back out there and, hopefully, get back to running in the front."
With only nine races remaining and the points battle really tight, do you change your strategy for a particular race?
"I can honestly say that we don't look at one night any differently than the other. We set out each night to win. The goal for this team starting the year was to win the most races. We've won a lot, but not the most, so we still have some work to do there. It's about winning races and the rest of the stuff will work itself out.
"Every race we have left on the schedule is important to us. I feel like I have the best crew in the business and drive for the best team out here. As a driver, I've got to do my best every time I get in the car. We'll take that approach every night left on the schedule. Hopefully, when it's all said and done, we'll have accomplished what we set out to do."
For complete WoO Sprint Car Series results, go to www.worldofoutlaws.com. For information regarding TSR, Schatz, Armor All, Chevy, or ParkerStore, visit www.tonystewartracing.com, www.donnyschatz.com, www.aa-ownercenter.com, www.chevrolet.com, or www.parkerstore.com.