A NEW BEGINNING ... Two-Time Defending WoO Champion Donny Schatz To Make Tony Stewart Racing Debut in the Alltel DIRTCar Nationals INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 4, 2008) -- The excitement of a new season brings out the best in every racer and every team.
A NEW BEGINNING ...
Two-Time Defending WoO Champion Donny Schatz To Make Tony Stewart Racing Debut in the Alltel DIRTCar Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 4, 2008) -- The excitement of a new season brings out the best in every racer and every team. Whether it's the optimism of a new start or the freshness of a new car, new scheme or new opportunity.
For two-time defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz, the 2008 season marks a new beginning in his promising career as he joins forces with Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) as driver of the No. 15 Armor All/ Chevy/ ParkerStore J&J.
After spending 15 seasons behind the wheel of his family-owned No. 15, Schatz will spearhead the newly formed team onto the track in search of his third WoO crown and second series championship for TSR.
Schatz will reunite with crew chief Ricky Warner, who joined TSR in July of 2007 and was part of the Schatz Motorsports team that claimed the 2006 title. The team also includes Shane Bowers, who has worked with Schatz for the past two seasons, and Kyle Sunby, who is the third member of the Armor All team's crew.
Schatz and the Armor All team will also benefit from the experienced crew of the No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/Maxim team led by Jimmy Carr, who helped TSR win the WoO title in 2001. Steve Swenson and Mike Kuemper will also be turning the wrenches for Kraig Kinser in the TSR camp on the WoO trail for the second consecutive season.
Schatz scored a career-best 19 WoO "A" feature wins en route to his second consecutive WoO title last season. He won his second consecutive Knoxville Nationals title, and won the final crown jewel that had been eluding him last July when he dominated the Kings Royal at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway. He also picked up his second Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, his second Williams Grove Summer Nationals triumph and his fourth National Open victory, and by doing so became the first sprint car driver to win all of those events in one season.
While the TSR crews have been preparing for the WoO campaign that includes more than 85 nights of racing, Schatz kept his skills sharp behind the wheel by competing in Australian sprint car action.
Schatz is coming off another sensational run in Australia, where he won five times in his eight starts, including his fifth $50,000 Bevelite Glass Sprintcar International at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway (TPCR) near Sydney, and the $20,000 Australia Open win at Titan Garages Brisbane International Speedway in Brisbane.
The Fargo, N.D., racer returned to the U.S. on Monday and he'll be the first to tell you the only race that matters is the next one. The next time Schatz will get back into a sprint car will be at the 37th annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park (VSP) in Barberville, Fla., Feb. 8-10.
It will mark the third consecutive year the Outlaws have kicked off their season at VSP. Schatz won last year's season opener at the track and followed that win with a pair of third-place finishes. Two years ago, he won his first career All-Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) feature event at the track. In the 2005 WoO season opener, Schatz took the lead on Lap 5 and built a comfortable margin during the next nine laps before a burnt coil wire took him out of the race.
from Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
What are your thoughts on the 2008 season?
"I'm really excited to get started with the 2008 season. Joining Tony Stewart Racing has been really exciting and we haven't even been in a race, yet. The guys at TSR have been working hard all winter to build me some great cars to race while I was over in Australia doing some R&D, trying to keep us ahead of the curve. Every season is special, and with the success we've had the last two years, our goals and expectations continue to be about having more success. We want to win a championship for Tony Stewart Racing, Armor All, Chevy, ParkerStore and everyone associated with this team. By having two teams, we'll have twice as much information for Ricky and Jimmy to work with. Kraig (Kinser) may find something that can help us, and vice-versa. The more information we can have will only help us to continue being in contention to win. We have to be good every night and also try to find ways to improve as the season goes along. It's just like a feature event. You want to be good early, but you absolutely have to be your best at the end."
You've had a lot of success at Volusia the past few years. What is it about VSP that you like?
"Volusia is a high-speed track that really goes back to where our program has been successful. Ron Shaver builds us some really strong Chevy motors, and typically the weather allows you to really produce a lot of horsepower. The key is keeping all that horsepower moving you forward and not spinning your wheels. Volusia tends to get slicker as the weekend goes on and that plays into our hands. We've got a great combination with our J&J cars and Afco shocks that allow us to adapt to nearly any track condition, which at Volusia you may have to be ready for at any time. It can start wet and heavy and end up really abrasive. We've been able to win a feature event there the last two years, so we're going to try and keep our winning streak going."
Everyone wants to get off to a good start. What factors will determine whether or not you have the kind of results you are expecting?
"Our expectations are to go out and win all three nights. If we don't do that, then we'll know we've got work to do. Everyone will be there to start the year with new stuff and trying to prove they're going to be the guy to beat this year. Fortunately, I'll be working with guys (Ricky Warner and Shane Bowers) who have been with me the past couple of years, and we're adding a new crew guy (Kyle Sunby) who's been on the road before. You want to gel as a unit and come out of the box strong. Every year it seems we're working with a new racing format, so we'll have to see how things are going to be different this year. The bottom line is you have to start the program by getting qualified well. Then, each time you hit the track, try to get your car better. Whether it's 25- or 30-lap features, you have to get within the first six to eight spots to have a chance, so that's your goal each night ... start close enough to the front to have a chance at the win."