SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SEEK TO CONTINUE BIG MONEY RACE SUCCESS CHICO, CA (Sept. 4) - Every weekend Donny Schatz shoots to win sprint car races as he chases his second World of Outlaws title, but this weekend, the crown jewel of west coast...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SEEK TO CONTINUE BIG MONEY RACE SUCCESS
CHICO, CA (Sept. 4) - Every weekend Donny Schatz shoots to win sprint car races as he chases his second World of Outlaws title, but this weekend, the crown jewel of west coast sprint car racing is the goal for Schatz and his Global ParkerStore sponsored sprint car team.
Schatz will lead the rest of the World of Outlaws into the 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California driving his No. 15 J&J with Shaver power sponsored by ParkerStore/Tom Johnson Camping Center/ Bellerud Transport/Snap-on Tools. A $50,000 prize is on the line for the winner of Saturday night's 40-lap "A" Feature for the second year in a row. So far in 2007 when big money has been on the line, Schatz has been the driver to beat.
"We're really looking forward to this year's Gold Cup and being part of the excitement," said Schatz, who won the 2004 Gold Cup Race of Champions. "Any time you get more than 100 cars trying for 24 spots, the atmosphere gets pretty electric. We've been fortunate to win the race in the past and would certainly like to add another Gold Cup trophy to our collection.
"The fact that $50,000 is on the line only adds to the excitement. We've had a good run at the big races this year, but those are all behind us and right now we've got to concentrate on getting started with a good qualifying lap on Thursday night."
The Fargo, ND resident swept the rich "Month of Money" beginning with the $50,000 Kings Royal presented by Crown Royal, and continuing with the $30,000 Cleveland Brothers CAT Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, $20,000 Cleveland Brothers CAT Summer Nationals and finally the $150,000 Super Clean Knoxville Nationals on August 11th.
Those victories along with his 11 other World of Outlaw triumphs in 2007 have helped the 2006 WoO champ continue to lead the series standings heading into this weekend. Schatz also leads the series with 56 top ten finishes in 62 starts and has nine times earned the pole position by winning the Crane Cams Dash event.
"We've been very consistent all season, but the last couple of weeks our consistency has been running in the top ten instead of the top three," continued Schatz. "We're out here to win races and it's been seven races since the last time we won (at Edmonton, August 19). That's way too many races between wins for us. We had a good run to second in Cottage Grove, but we're not here to finish second. We want to win, so that's our goal starting Thursday. Win everything. Hot Laps. Qualifying. The heat race. Crane Cams Dash and Preliminary Feature."
The Gold Cup Race of Champions program will be similar to the Knoxville Nationals as the field will be split into two groups with half racing on Thursday night and the other on Friday night. Points for qualifying, heat race finish and prelim finish will be totaled. Saturday's feature line-ups will be based on points with the car earning the most points starting on the pole.
"We've got to get back to the basics and start by doing everything we can to qualify number one on Thursday night," continued Schatz, who has six fast time awards in 2007, including twice setting new track records. "It's a points system like the Nationals, so every time you hit the track you are trying to gain points so you can be as close as you can to the front on Saturday night."
Last year, Schatz wasn't near the front of Saturday night's "A" feature as a result of scary crash during his qualifying night. After turning the fifth fastest lap in time trails, Schatz was racing for the final transfer spot in Thursday's fourth heat race. He made contact going for the final spot which sent him off the track and onto a concrete barrier, which ultimately ignited the No. 15 ParkerStore into a fire ball.
Once the car came to a stop several drivers including Brent Kaeding, Randy Hannagan, Paul McMahan and Brooke Tatnell helped him escape the flames. After a trip to local hospital where he was treated for second and third degree burns, Schatz returned to the track, but his car was destroyed.
Schatz returned to action in Saturday's finale and worked his way through the "D" Feature and charged from the back of the "C" to finish fourth. He used a provisional starting spot in the "A" and raced from 25th to eighth, his sixth top ten finish in 10 starts.
"I put myself in a bad situation and ended up in an uglier situation because of it," said Schatz, who is looking for his 11th Gold Cup "A" Feature start "It was probably good that I had been in a fire earlier in my career at Calistoga and I kind knew how to react a little better. We felt like we had a great chance to win the race heading into to it, but things didn't go our way. We were forced to try and make it through the alphabet and came up a bit short. We had good run at the start of the feature, but really never got close enough to the leaders to be in contention."
Last year's winner Daryn Pittman led all 40 laps to join Schatz and Dave Blaney as the only three drivers in the last ten Gold Cup finales to lead every lap en route to victory.
"Leading every lap is pretty tough at Chico," continued Schatz. "When we won it in 2004, we led every lap of the preliminary feature and finale. We had our car working really good that weekend and that's our goal for the next couple of days...be fast enough to lead as many laps as we can. The most important one is the last one Saturday, but we've got a lot of work to do before then."
Coverage of the three nights will include live broadcasts on www.dirtvision.com, and Saturday's finale will be taped an air on SPEED on September 16th. Schatz has been very strong in races televised during 2007 winning four times and finishing second three times.