Schatz, Parkerstore Team Looking For "One Spot Better" At Knoxville FARGO, ND (April 28) -- The old saying goes to be the best you have to beat the best. For Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore World of Outlaws Sprint Series Team, the goal is to be...
Schatz, Parkerstore Team Looking For "One Spot Better" At Knoxville
FARGO, ND (April 28) -- The old saying goes to be the best you have to beat the best. For Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore World of Outlaws Sprint Series Team, the goal is to be the best.
Since 1997, Schatz has been earning his keep on the rigorous World of Outlaws tour and each year he has progressed to the point that he began the 2004 campaign with championship aspirations. With 14 races in the books, Schatz ranks fourth in the standings trailing point leader Steve Kinser by 103 points, and this weekend, the team heads to a place where Schatz has been one of the best in the business driving his #15 ParkerStore J&J. The two-night Spring Classic will kick-off Friday night at Knoxville Raceway in Central Iowa.
"We're all really excited about this weekend and any time you get to race at Knoxville it's a good thing," said the Fargo, ND driver, who has three career feature wins at the legendary half-mile dirt oval (all of which have been Knox ville Nationals Preliminary Feature victories). "We came into the season hoping to challenge for the championship and so far we've had some ups and downs. Getting our first win is a priority. The past few years we have been pretty good there, but we finished second too many times."
Schatz scored a pair of runner-up finishes in last year's Spring Classic. He finished fourth in the NAPA Classic before returning for the sport's biggest race (the Knoxville Nationals) where he won his preliminary night feature and led the first seven laps of the Nationals "A" Feature before coming home second for the third time in the last four years.
"Our goal is to win the Outlaws championship, but when you come to Knoxville you have to be preparing for the Nationals," continued Schatz. "We've finished second to Mark Kinser, Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski in the last four years. Those three guys have more wins there than just about anybody (156 combined including 18 Nationals). It took Mark and Danny a long time to breakthrough and finally win the Nationals. We can't win the Nationals in April, but we can certainly get ourselves some confidence and momentum for the rest of the spring."
Schatz has been consistent this season finishing in the top seven nine times with a runner-up finish at Houston Raceway Park on March 27 being his best finish. A pair of DNF's have cost him in the point standings, but the ParkerStore team has been very successful in the double feature programs so far this season. In three of the four two-night programs, Schatz has been "locked in" on the second night.
"I've talked about winning our first race on Friday, but really we've got to get locked in," said Schatz. "You know when you come to Knoxville that you're looking at probably 50 cars. To win you've got to start up front, so we're going to do everything we can to be in the top four Friday night."
The return to Knoxville is also a homecoming of sorts for the ParkerStore Crew Chief, Tyler Swank. The 26 year-old is a native of Newton, IA, and is in his second full season turning the wrenches on the #15 ParkerStore J&J. Swank helped Schatz win a career-best 12 WoO feature events in 2003 and is looking forward to returning home.
"I always have this 'nervous excitement' about going to Knoxville," said Swank. "Yes, I'll get to sleep in my own bed, but it won't be comfortable unless we have a good showing. It seemed like we finished second every time we raced at Knoxville last year and we just want to win. A lot of people would probably be happy with second, but all of us are focused on being first."
"We built a new racecar last week and Donny was really happy with it at Talladega. This is the time for us to start building momentum. Donny gets around Knoxville as good as anyone, so if I can do my job and get him a fast racecar, he'll take care of the rest."
Schatz knew heading into this season that 18-time World of Outlaws champion, Steve Kinser, and three-time Knoxville Nationals champion, Danny Lasoski, were going to be the prime contenders for the WoO championship. Kinser has a strong first quarter of the season winning eight times while Lasoski, like Schatz, is still searching for his first win. The championship is a long way in the distance, but winning a race or two at Knoxville this weekend would certainly brighten the outlook for Schatz and his ParkerStore team.
Fans can follow all the action from Knoxville on SCN Radio, Sprint Car Racing's premier web cast provider. SCN (www.sprintcarnet.com) will carry all the action both nights beginning at 7:15 p.m. (central time) Friday and Saturday night. The Outdoor Channel will tape action from both nights and the program will air on Wednesday, May 19.