SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM EARN POLE POSITION FOR THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS FINALE KNOXVILLE, IA (August 12) - Drivers will tell you the toughest thing to do in sprint car racing is earning a starting spot close to the front for the Knoxville ...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM EARN POLE POSITION FOR THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS FINALE
KNOXVILLE, IA (August 12) - Drivers will tell you the toughest thing to do in sprint car racing is earning a starting spot close to the front for the Knoxville Nationals A-Main. For the third time in his career World of Outlaws points leader Donny Schatz will start from the pole in Saturday's 46th annual Super Clean Knoxville Nationals at the Knoxville Raceway.
This week's efforts for Schatz in his No. 15 ParkerStore J&J with Shaver power have been extremely consistent, mirroring his performance throughout the 2006 campaign. After a runner-up finish in Wednesday's preliminary feature, he charged from 10th to second in Friday night's 12-lap "A" Scramble. He followed that finish up with a run from eighth to third the Factory Auto Parts World Challenge. The podium finishes set the stage for the single biggest race of the sprint car season.
"This week has been a total team effort," said Schatz, who scored the most points during his qualifying night and picked up 26 more in Friday's "A" Scramble. "Honestly, we tried to treat this week like any other race. Our goal all year has been to be as consistent as we could."
"We knew coming in that a lot of things had to go our way. I've learned that you can make a lot of your own breaks by working hard and I know we've put in a lot of work. I'm just looking for 30 good laps and be there at the end."
The Fargo, ND racer, who has been consistently strong in the Nationals since winning the WoO Rookie of the Year in 1997, will try to overcome the biggest obstacle in his sprint car career. Schatz has been on the brink of winning the sport's most glamorous race multiple times, finishing second four times (2000, 2002, 2003, 2005) in the last six years.
"We have accomplished what we wanted to do so far," continued Schatz. "The guys (Crew Chief) Ricky (Warner), Shane (Bowers), James (Zartman) and Kenny (Ohnell) have worked really hard to give me a great race car every time we've been on the track. I have tremendous confidence that we'll have a fast car again on Saturday night."
As the drama continues to build, Schatz has been focused on the ultimate goal all week and he admits that his previous experience here and his season long success have a lot to do with that.
"I feel really good about everything," said Schatz, who has 12 World of Outlaws feature wins in 2006. "I've had the kind of season that we really dreamed about and now we've just got to add this piece of the puzzle to it. In the past there were spells where I'd fall on my face and not go very good for stretches, but this year we haven't had those."
"It's easy to let this race overwhelm you and think about too many things. I've been through this before and now that the only thing that really matters is when I put my helmet on and get ready to go to work. I'll spend the day with some family, signing autographs and maybe find some time for relaxing and try to enjoy the ride."
To finish second in the biggest race of the year is quite an accomplishment, but to do it four times is quite remarkable. Donny Schatz is the only driver to finish second four times in this race.
If 2006 season trends follow through this may be the year he parlays previous second place runs into a first. In 48 World of Outlaws races this season, Schatz has finished second on 13 occasions. Eight times he has won the following race. In Wednesday's qualifying feature and Friday's "A" Scramble he finished second.
Schatz led the first 25 laps of the 2000 Knoxville Nationals and six laps in the 2003 Nationals finale.