GRANVILLE, NSW, AU (January 6) -- When the dust settled on the 2003 O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series season in Las Vegas just eight weeks ago, Donny Schatz couldn't be more excited about the upcoming season. He had just wrapped up the best World...
GRANVILLE, NSW, AU (January 6) -- When the dust settled on the 2003 O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series season in Las Vegas just eight weeks ago, Donny Schatz couldn't be more excited about the upcoming season. He had just wrapped up the best World of Outlaws season of his career winning 12 feature events and elevating his ParkerStore team into a contender to win at every race.
"Last year was truly a big learning season for me in a lot of ways," claimed the 26 year-old Fargo, ND driver, who will begin his eighth campaign on the World of Outlaws trail. "We missed a few races last year getting seat time in the USAC Silvercrown series, and yet still were able to finish in the top five of the standings."
"I know this team has come a long way from 1997 when we first following the series exclusively. You go from trying to be competitive, to trying to win a race, to trying to win regularly and then to trying to win a championship. I truly believe we are now ready to challenge guys like Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski for the points championship."
The championship drive for the 2004 World of Outlaws begins earlier than any other season in the series 26-year history. It will also be the first time the series sanctions a race outside the United States as the season begins with the World of Outlaws Down Under event on Thursday at Parramatta City Raceway in Australia.
Schatz and his crew chief Tyler Swank have been tuning the #15 ParkerStore J&J on the PCR clay and experiencing a great deal of success. During the past two weekends, Schatz has been victorious, first winning Australia's highest paying sprint car race, the $50,000-to-win Sprintcar International, and then this past weekend claiming the $10,000-to-win Titan Garages & Sheds $10,000 to win Sprintcar International.
"This is a great way to kick off our month of competition in Australia," Schatz said, following his third career win in the $50,000-to-win event. "We decided to solely attack Parramatta City Raceway in the lead-in to the World of Outlaws show here, and winning this race is the perfect start.
"Parramatta is such a great place to race. The grandstands were packed, and the fans were pretty excited by the level of competition. When the crowd is excited, that energy transfers to the drivers and makes the event that much better. When the World of Outlaws get here, it will be a barn burner."
Schatz admits that having won two races at the track already this season helps, but knows when the rest of the Outlaws hit the track he will have to be his best.
"I don't think there will be any advantage at all," claimed Schatz after arriving in Australia. "The drivers that are coming over, do this thing all the time. What I mean by that is we will go to a lot of new tracks through the year where we have never raced at before and set a new track records and win the big races...that is what the Outlaws are famous for isn't it?"
If the momentum that the 2003 season ended with, which included the 12 victories, 30 top-five finishes and 50 runs in the top-ten, wasn't enough, Schatz hopes that already having the kinks roughed out will be.
While Schatz and team owners Danny and Diane Schatz get the season started in Australia, Swank has returned home and joined the ParkerStore team members Dave Yingst and Chad Lambert to help prepare for the grueling ten-month marathon that is the World of Outlaws season. The team will make their WoO debut in the United States on February 20-21st at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, AZ.
For all of the latest news on Donny Schatz and the Parkerstore team, log onto www.donnyschatz.com.