SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SHOOT FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE NATIONAL OPEN FARGO, ND (September 27) - Even though Donny Schatz is in the midst of the best season in his 10-year World of Outlaws career, the ParkerStore sponsored driver isn't content...
SCHATZ, PARKERSTORE TEAM SHOOT FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE NATIONAL OPEN
FARGO, ND (September 27) - Even though Donny Schatz is in the midst of the best season in his 10-year World of Outlaws career, the ParkerStore sponsored driver isn't content with simply finishing up the 2006 schedule. The Fargo, ND driver would rather revert back to his late season surges of 2004 and 2005 which both included National Open victories at Williams Grove Speedway in his familiar No. 15 J&J with Shaver power.
This weekend, Schatz, an astute historian of the World of Outlaws sprint car series, will try to become the third driver in the race's 43-year history to win three consecutive National Open's. The others were Kenny Weld (1971, 72 and 73) and Doug Wolfgang (1984, 85, 86), who Schatz loved to root for as a young sprint car fan.
"This is one of those races that holds a lot of tradition and prestige," said Schatz, who enters the event with a commanding 318 point lead in the World of Outlaws point standings. "We kind of won the thing out of nowhere in 2000 and since then, I've really loved racing at the Grove. We haven't won there yet this season, and that was one of our goals for the season."
Schatz has been to victory lane all over the country and world for that matter in 2006. He began the 2006 calendar year with six victories in Australia before earning his first career All-Star Circuit of Champions victory at Volusia Speedway Park in February. Eight months later and the wins have continued to pile up and to date he has 14 World of Outlaws "A" Feature wins and a pair of preliminary victories.
Those number don't include the biggest victory of his career, which came in August at the Knoxville Nationals. After four second place finishes in the last six years, Schatz and his team, which is made up of three Central Pennsylvania natives (Crew Chief Ricky Warner, Shane Bowers and James Zartman), had an extraordinary week that ended with the ParkerStore J&J car on the prestigious Knoxville Raceway victory stage.
"After you win a race the first time, it takes a lot of pressure off your shoulders," continued Schatz. "I can honestly say that's probably helped us in the National Open. We've won the race so the pressure is simply to be as good as you can. Knowing that it's most important to get your car working better than anyone else."
"The competition is really tough out there and I think I learned how to be good there from being so bad for so long. This is the time of year when everyone is thinking about next year and trying new things. We're doing the same, but also know this race pays $50,000-to-win. We have a really good baseline to start with there and like I said we really want to include another National Open on our list of accomplishments for this season."
In five 2006 starts at the half-mile dirt oval, Schatz has not finished outside the top five. He staged a terrific duel with Fred Rahmer during both programs in May. During the Summer Nationals, he charged into second and set his sites on first place when a motor problem took a good amount of horsepower away from him. He still finished second.
Schatz admits that the key to weekend is getting off on the right foot Friday night.
"We have to get locked in Friday night," said Schatz, who has nine career wins at "the Grove". "The last two years we've finished in the top four on the first night and that really helps set you up for the Open. You've got to qualify good enough to be close to the front and then make it through your heat race. With the quality of cars getting through the heats can be pretty tough. Like any big race, you have to have some luck go your way, take advantage of the breaks when they are there and put yourself in a position to win with 10 laps to go."
Following the two nights of racing at Williams Grove Speedway, Schatz and the ParkerStore team will have only six nights of races remaining in the 2006 WoO season concluding with the season ending events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 27-28.