Donny Schatz Spring Nationals Parkerstores Team Members Have Fond Memories Of Devil's Bowl FARGO, North Dakota - With a schedule that includes stops all across the country, competitors in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws have memories from...
Parkerstores Team Members Have Fond Memories Of Devil's Bowl
FARGO, North Dakota - With a schedule that includes stops all across the country, competitors in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws have memories from each track they pull into. This weekend, Donny Schatz and his ParkerStores team will be competing in the 29th annual Spring Nationals at Devil's Bowl Speedway where both Schatz and his crew chief Kenny Woodruff have had some memorable nights.
"It's a great track and one that recently has given me some problems," said Schatz, who pilots the #15 ParkerStores J&J on the 2002 WoO Tour. "I used to love coming here when I first started running with the Outlaws. I had my best night there in the spring of 1998. Looking back at that night as our high point, we're just shooting to get back to being that strong again this weekend."
Schatz felt the roller-coaster of emotions while enduring the journey to claim the coveted WoO Rookie of Year Award in 1997. Early in the 1998 season, he had a night that all young drivers need. A night when he was in an epic battle with sprint car racing legend Steve Kinser. He started fourth and Kinser started first in the 20-lap preliminary feature, and it was the youngster from North Dakota that was putting the heat on in the opener of the Spring Nationals. While Kinser had already accomplished everything possible in the sport, Schatz was still searching for his first WoO victory. The two battled lap after lap and in the end Schatz came up one car-length short of winning his first race, but the second place finish was his career-best.
"We had a new team together at that time and it gave us a lot of confidence to be in a race like that with Steve," continued Schatz. "We were having a lot of fun and I was still pretty young and green to everything that happens with the Outlaws. We qualified well and just had it all going. I can still remember why I didn't win that race. We were using a plastic bleeder insert and I hit something that broke one and it really threw off the tire pressure. Since then they've come out with aluminum inserts, so we don't have that problem anymore. I'll certainly never forget that night."
Almost 20 years to the day before Schatz's memorable night at Devil's Bowl, Woodruff made history as the winning car-owner and crew chief in the first World of Outlaws "A" feature on March 18, 1978. Woodruff and his driver Jimmy Boyd came to the Spring Nationals from California and beat some of the best true racing "Outlaws" like Doug Wolfgang, Sammy Swindell, Steve Kinser and Don Mack.
"That was a long time ago for sure," said Woodruff. "We took a chance and came down from Sacramento and Jimmy got to the front and never looked back. I had only been racing for a little while, and we didn't travel that much. Everybody was there for the $2000 and we were good enough to win it and move on to the next race. Lanny (Edwards) has done a lot with his place since then, but its still about who can get their car the fastest."
Both Schatz and Woodruff are looking to this weekend as a pivotal point early in they year's WoO season. After seven nights of racing, the team is looking forward to a solid weekend. A fourth place finish at Perris Auto Speedway and a run from 17th to seventh at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have been the early highlights, but both know better things are coming.
"I'm confident we'll have a good weekend, especially since Goodyear has given us a really strong tire this year," said Schatz. "I think they are right on par with Hoosier on the cold tracks and we certainly think when it gets warmer that we'll be that much further ahead. Last year, the early part of the season was really tough because of some of the tire differences, but that's not an issue this year."
"Kenny, Shane (Anderson) and I are working hard to get qualified well this weekend so that we have a chance. The Outlaws new format really puts a premium on qualifying and we've yet to get inside the top four. If we can get qualified well, I know we can race strong."
Another memorable night in March at Devil's Bowl might be just the kind of spark the ParkerStores team could use to get their confidence going on all cylinders.