LAS VEGAS, NV (February 27) - The main topic of discussion for this weekend's Pennzoil World of Outlaws Silver State Shootout at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is how will the dirt track's surface will hold up. Last fall, mother nature played havoc on...
LAS VEGAS, NV (February 27) - The main topic of discussion for this weekend's Pennzoil World of Outlaws Silver State Shootout at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is how will the dirt track's surface will hold up. Last fall, mother nature played havoc on the half-mile oval, but LVMS track officials brought in new dirt and reshaped the track in preparation for the 2001 season. Donny Schatz enters the event as one of only seven active WoO drivers to find victory lane here and he's optimistic about his chances this weekend.
"I've always liked LVMS," said Schatz, who has nine top ten finishes in the last 11 races at LVMS. "I've won a race here and finished in the top ten on several occasions, but I think the track is lot different than it has been in the past. The shape is a little different and there's new dirt on the track, so we're going to have to wait and see. If the dirt reacts the same as the old stuff, then we'll be okay. If it doesn't, we'll have to start from ground zero and go from there."
Schatz brought his #15 ParkerStores J&J to the track last week for a test session and turned a number of fast laps, which should help them with a starting point for Thursday's opener. The three-day program will feature a full card of action all three nights with Friday's program being aired on TNN: The National Network. Saturday's program will pay $20,000 to the winner and "the Minot Missile" knows that recent weather may have an effect on this weekend's track conditions.
"I'm sure it's going to be a little tricky to get through the first night of racing," continued Schatz. "My guess is that the track will be pretty heavy, which puts a lot more emphasis on horsepower and that's one of our strengths. Everyone's motor is solid right now and in qualifying you can be off just slightly and barely make the top ten. I think that's going to be the story all season.
"We tested at the track last week and the car felt really good. I feel like we'll be competitive all three days and if things go right, we'll have a chance to get that first win of the season. We really have to concentrate on the first two nights, because Saturday's show will be lined up by points from Thursday and Friday."
Schatz and the rest of the Outlaws opened the 2001 WoO season on another "heavy" track last Friday in Hanford, CA , at King's Speedway. Schatz qualified ninth, won his heat race, but finished seventh in the Channellock Dash. He moved from seventh to fifth in the 30-lap "A" Feature, scoring a top five finish in the first race of the season, which is something he wasn't able to do until April 15th last year.
"We were better than a fifth place car at Hanford," said Schatz. "I'm not used to sitting around and being a follow the leader type of guy. I tried to make something happen, and I made a mistake. It cost me, and that's just how it works. If I would have stayed in line, then I feel like we would have been a top three car. It's only one race and I can't dwell on it. I ready to get on the track here and go from there."
With Friday's program be televised on TNN, Schatz and the rest of the Outlaw drivers may get the kind of racetrack that they all enjoy racing on: a slick one. The program will begin earlier to accommodate the national viewing audience, which means the cars will be on the track while the daylight is still prominent.
"The World of Outlaws are notorious for having a slick surface, which it was I would like to see," said Schatz, who won the 1999 season finale at LVMS on TNN. "The earlier we're on the track, the better it's going to be. That will allow more sunlight, wind and abuse on the track earlier in the night, which will help dry it out. Until we get out there and see how it holds up, we won't really know what the track will do, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best surface possible."