FARGO, ND ~ October 13,2003 ~ After running in the top-five the majority of the 40-lap finale in the October 11 Cheaper Than Dirt at Texas Motor Speedway, Donny Schatz brought the ParkerStores J & J Shaver ...
FARGO, ND ~ October 13,2003 ~ After running in the top-five the majority of the 40-lap finale in the October 11 Cheaper Than Dirt at Texas Motor Speedway, Donny Schatz brought the ParkerStores J & J Shaver #15 to the checkered in seventh position maintaining the consistency the team needs to be a serious contender for the 2004 World of Outlaws championship.
"Texas Motor Speedway is a tough race track" said Schatz. "It can be bullet-fast if you get the car just right to ride off the cushion, but the cushion sometimes blows off pretty quickly and you better have a car you can put anywhere on the track. We could get in the corners and through the middle of the turns really well but the car tightened up on exit and wouldn't turn so we could get a drive down the straights. Still, it was a decent run, especially after Friday night.
"We will just gather it up and head for the new track in Tunica, MS (Delta Bowl Speedway). A new racetrack is a bit of an equalizer for everyone on the circuit. But you win races and championships by having the ability to figure it out faster and better than everyone else. This ParkerStores team is up to the task and we are ready to go after it."
The October 17-18 event at Delta Bowl Speedway, Tunica, MS is the first-ever visit by the winged sprint car national touring series. The track is a high-banked, 1/3-mile oval much like Eagle Raceway, Eagle NE where Schatz scored the victory in the 1/3 mile Oval Track Nationals in September.
"From what I have heard, the track is much like Eagle," concluded Schatz. "That could be a plus for us with just winning at the Nebraska track. But you can't count on anything before it happens so we get as prepared as possible to roll in the pit gate Friday. We just want to keep adding more numbers to the win column before the season is over."
Schatz was off to an excellent start in Friday night's preliminary events. He qualified fifth quick of the 37 cars entered in the two-day event. His fourth place finish in the heat race put him in the dash where he finished third to secure the inside third row starting spot for the 30-lap preliminary feature.
The North Dakota driver got off to a great start and was battling in the top-four the entire race when suddenly with only a handful of laps remaining, the bright yellow and black ParkerStores #15 lost power and coasted to a stop on the top of turn two with suspected failure of an electrical component. As Schatz was attempting to maneuver his car out of harms way, Paul McMahan, running the same line as Schatz, hit the ParkerStores car as he tried to avoid him. The contact put McMahan out of the event as well. Attempts to restart the car failed and instead of being locked in to the Saturday night event, Schatz had to settle for a disappointing 20th place finish.
Daryn Pittman passed Steve Kinser with just one lap left in the race to take the win. Brooke Tatnell and Shane Stewart completed the four cars qualified for Saturday night's final competition.
The ParkerStores team started Saturday night with the second place qualifying position and a dominating win in the heat race. Contact with another competitor on the first lap of the dash forcing Schatz to the rear on the restart gave him the opportunity to experiment running different lines instead of trying to race for the win. His eighth place finish put him on the outside of the fourth row in the 40-lap feature.
Schatz got an excellent start but numerous yellow made it difficult for the front runners to get a good rhythm going before caution would hit the speedway again. Once the field was able to get a long green flag run going, Schatz was in the thick of things in the top-five with Kinser, Pittman, Sammy Swindell, Joey Saldana, Stewart and Tim Shaffer, who had made his run to the front starting in the back row of the feature.
The #15 ParkerStores J & J was as fast or faster than most of the competition but with Schatz's inability to get off the corner as well as the others, he couldn't maximize his horsepower advantage to move to the front spot.
When the final caution of the race flew with about 13 laps remaining for Swindell who suffered a left rear tire problem, Schatz was in fifth as the field thundered around to take the green flag for the restart with Kinser at the point. Kinser jumped to the lead in turn while Schatz resumed his battle with Pittman, Saldana, Shaffer, Stewart and McMahan.
As the laps unwound toward the finish, Jason Johnson who had started in the 13th starting position found his groove on the high side of the track and powered around the entire field to take the lead from Kinser with five laps remaining and stretched the distance at the checkered flag to over 15 car lengths.
Schatz and Shaffer drag raced from turn four to the flag stand for sixth and seventh with Shaffer pulling ahead by mere inches to finish sixth. Following Johnson and Kinser to the checkered flag were Saldana, Pittman and Stewart.