DEFENDING OUTLAWS CHAMPION SET FOR RETURN TO ST. LOUIS FARGO, ND (April 5) - Defending World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz knows a little something about putting on a good show, and it's always a good show when the WoO races at I-55 ...
DEFENDING OUTLAWS CHAMPION SET FOR RETURN TO ST. LOUIS
FARGO, ND (April 5) - Defending World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz knows a little something about putting on a good show, and it's always a good show when the WoO races at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, MO. The sprint car driver won a career-high 19 feature events last year and one came in dominating fashion as he blitzed the field last April to score his first win at the high-banked 1/3-mile dirt oval.
The competition level in sprint car racing is at an all-time high and predicting a winner at the high-banked track located just off Interstate 55 has been equally as tough since the last 12 WoO races at the track have ended with a different winner in victory lane. Thats the kind of parity NASCAR is looking for in its premiere division that includes Ken Schrader, who is co-owner of the track and will be on hand Saturday. Schrader admits the World of Outlaws races are a big part of track's special event schedule.
"We always love having the World of Outlaws at I-55, because the track is a perfect place for them to race," said Schrader, the NASCAR Nextel Cup star and co-promoter along with Ray Marler of I-55 Raceway. "The cars are so fast and they can race on the bottom, top and anywhere in between so it's always a great show."
When the action begins Schatz will attempt to break the string of different winners without a repeat victor by duplicating his performance of last April when he led all 40 laps of the main event. He nearly broke the streak last July when he led the feature race during the middle stages before a broken steering gear made turning nearly impossible and he finished fourth.
"I-55 is one of my favorite places because you can always have a great race there," continued Schatz, who has three wins through 11 2007 races driving his No. 15 ParkerStore J&J with Shaver power. "We had some good runs there in the past, but last spring we were coming off a win the night before and were able to lead all 40 laps. A driver doesn't usually lead from start to finish there, so it was quite an accomplishment and really helped get us going towards the championship."
Saturday night's event is something special for Schatz as he will debut a special schemed red and black Snap-on sprint car for the first of eight nights of action in 2007. The Fargo, ND native is excited to be racing with a new design.
"We are all looking forward to getting the car on the track," said Schatz, who joined the Snap-on Racing family in 2007. "Snap-on has been great to work with and having them be associated with our team is pretty special. We've been using their tools for a long time, and we're trying to match their level of success in sprint car racing."
Nearly 100 guests from Snap-on will be part of the capacity crowd, and Schrader, who has been connected with the tool company for many years, is thrilled to have the added bonus at Saturday's event.
"I've been fortunate enough to be associated with Snap-on for a long time and think it's great they are getting involved with a such a good team within the World of Outlaws," continued Schrader, who drives the Wood Brothers No. 21 Snap-on sponsored NASCAR Nextel Cup Ford.
"Corporate America is recognizing the benefits of being involved with grassroots racing. There is so much exposure, publicity and opportunity for companies to get their names out in front of loyal people. Snap-on is the leader in the professional tool market and there will be number of people at the track on Saturday night that use their tools, so we're really excited to have Donny make his first race in the Snap-on sprint car at our track."
Schatz will begin the weekend by racing his No. 15 ParkerStore J&J with the Outlaws at Paducah International Raceway (PIR) in Kentucky. It will mark the Outlaws third visit to the 3/8-mile track, which is partly owned by NASCAR stars Ken Schrader, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart. In the first two WoO events at the track, Schatz finished 13th in 1998 and 11th in 2001. Both feature events were won by racers using J&J sprint cars (Jeff Swindell in 1998 and Andy Hillenburg in 2001). Schatz has been using J&J sprint cars since 2001 and his ParkerStore team spent this week at the J&J Auto Racing shop in McKenzie, TN, which is just 75 miles from PIR.
After winning last year's WoO title, Schatz knows every night counts. Through 11 races, Schatz has finished in the top three nine times, has one sixth place finish (last week at Dixie Speedway) and a 12th place finish (February 23 in Tulare, CA). Schatz, who led the point standings until last week, is just two points behind leader Joey Saldana.
The high banks of I-55 Raceway brings out the best in all of the Outlaws, and Schatz is no different. For the past few seasons, the track has hosted a spring race and mid summer race. The spring race typically includes a large field of cars and the summer race challenges all the teams as it normally is during the busiest time of the year.
Through the years, the Fargo, ND racer has found a liking to the track....in October 1998, he was on the front row of the feature event but never completed a lap after pole-sitter Dale Blaney spun in front of the field and collected the No. 15...in July 2000, he led the first six laps of the feature before finishing 11th...the following July he earned his first podium finish when he started 12th and came home.... In April of 2004, he shared the front with Jason Sides, but the two made contact coming out of turn two on the opening lap sending Schatz into a series of flips...In 2005, he finished fifth in April and charged from eighth to finish second in the July race. Last year, he led every lap of the April feature and led three laps of the July event.