FARGO, ND ~ June 30, 2003 ~ The marathon of racing continued for ParkerStores driver Donny Schatz in both World of Outlaws (WoO) and United States Auto Club (USAC). Farmer City Raceway, Farmer City, IL was the final night of a...
FARGO, ND ~ June 30, 2003 ~ The marathon of racing continued for ParkerStores driver Donny Schatz in both World of Outlaws (WoO) and United States Auto Club (USAC).
Farmer City Raceway, Farmer City, IL was the final night of a five-race, six-night swing that included both regularly scheduled events at Brandon, SD, Joplin, MO and Kansas City, KS and makeup events at Farmer City and Granite City, IL. Prepared to continue the impressive string of top -five finishes the ParkerStores team had scored in recent events, Schatz and the ParkerStores team rolled in ready to race. Drawing late in the order, the North Dakota driver posted the 17th quickest time of the 40-car field.
After posting a going away win in the first heat race, Schatz set sail in the dash to determine his staring position in the 35-lap A-Main. His seventh place finish secured the 13th starting position in the feature. He maneuvered the familiar #15 expertly up through the field and around lapped traffic to notch another top-ten finish with his sixth place run at the waving of the checkered flag.
"Traffic always gets to be a challenge very quickly on these smaller tracks," said Schatz. "The crew had my car setup really well for the feature and we were able to run where we needed to get to the front and manage lapped cars racing for their own positions at the same time. This has been a good swing for us; we are racing well with solid finishes. With the big money races right around the corner, it feels good to have the consistency we need to get the results."
Schatz then headed to Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, VA for the two-day USAC Silver Crown event in conjunction with the Indy Racing League. Practice and qualifying were Friday, June 27 with the 100-lap event set to run on Saturday evening.
With Richmond being a technical ¾ mile track with only slight banking and Schatz never having had the opportunity to test there prior to the event, the learning curve was steep and had to be conquered quickly.
"I was really impressed with the track the first practice session," said Schatz. "It is a great driver's track but having and holding your line is critical in getting a good time and that takes laps and more laps, which although we get long practice sessions before qualifying, it just isn't as beneficial as if we had had the opportunity to test there prior to coming for the actual event.
Schatz qualified the #115 ParkerStores J & J fielded by R. E. Technologies Racing 31st in the 40-car field order putting him in the "Suitcase Race", the last chance to qualify for Saturday's 100-lap feature. Coming out of turn four into the tri-oval at the end of the first lap, Schatz's car suddenly veered into the front stretch wall, ending the evening early and all chance to make the race. The steering column had split open and come apart, leaving the car with all the steering capabilities inoperable.
"I never had any indication it wasn't going to turn," said Schatz. "Next thing I knew I was going into the wall. What a disappointment for this entire team, they work so hard to give me a great car and something totally not expected happens. No one on the team had ever seen a steering column split off like that. It is really too bad because I was feeling really comfortable in the car and was actually looking forward to the 15-lap race as more track time and more learning opportunity. We just have to put it behind us and head for Colorado Springs."
Schatz's R.E. Technologies teammate Tyler Walker finished fifth. The 100-lap race was won by Dave Steele followed by Aaron Fike, and Ed Carpenter.
Veteran driver Danny Wood hopped back in the cockpit of the #15 ParkerStores J & J on Friday, June 27 while Schatz was in Richmond. He qualified 18th in the 30-car field. His second place finish in the heat race put Wood in dash for his starting position in the 30-lap preliminary feature. By virtue of his 8th place finish in the dash, the Norman, OK driver started 16th in the preliminary main. Wood moved up through the field but changes in track conditions that didn't quite equal the car setup put him an eventual 15th at the end of the race.
Saturday night, both the #15 and #115 ParkerStores cars were presented for competition in the final night of the Eagle Nationals. As a result of the unfortunate events in the USAC car in Richmond, Schatz was able to join Wood and the team in Nebraska.
After qualifying eighth and 12th respectively, Wood and Schatz were set for their heat races. Wood scored fifth in his heat while Schatz won his heat. Not to be outdone by teammate Schatz, Wood turned around and won the B-Main placing both cars in the 40-lap, $15,000 to win A-Main.
As the dust settled after the checkered flew, Schatz brought his ParkerStores entry across the finish line in 11th with teammate Wood in the 12th finishing position.
"I am glad we had the chance to make night two at Eagle," Schatz said. "Danny (Wood) did a good job for us Friday and we both had decent runs on Saturday. Obviously we want to win every race but sometimes you just have to take what the car and the track will give you and drive it to the limits. Now we are off to Colorado for more USAC and back to Knoxville for the second night."
Steve Kinser was the King of the Eagle Nationals winning both the preliminary feature and the main event Saturday night. Joey Saldana and Danny Lasoski rounded out the top-three.
After the WoO event at Sedalia State Fair Speedway, Sedalia, MO, Schatz will be in the ParkerStores Silver Crown car at Pikes Peak International Raceway just south of Colorado Springs, CO on July 3 - 4. Wood will run the #15 ParkerStores car at Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, IA on July 4. Schatz will join Wood on Saturday, July 5 when again, a pair of ParkerStore cars will make a bid for NAPA Classic crown.