Second place finish in Knoxville Nationals ends tremendous eight day stretch for Schatz, Parkerstore Team. FARGO, ND - Donny Schatz came up .336 of a second short of winning the biggest race in sprint car racing: the Mopar Parts Knoxville ...
Second place finish in Knoxville Nationals ends tremendous eight day stretch for Schatz, Parkerstore Team.
FARGO, ND - Donny Schatz came up .336 of a second short of winning the biggest race in sprint car racing: the Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals. That race ended the best eight-day stretch of his career as he had three wins, a second and a third in five starts.
"Looking at the big picture, I'm really excited because we've been a rocket every time we hit the track," said Schatz, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday. "I'm kicking myself a little bit for not winning the Nationals, but there's no shame in finishing second to Steve Kinser, he's the greatest sprint car driver of all time. Our goal from here on out is to climb as high as we can in the World of Outlaws points chase. If we keep up the pace we have right now, we'll be able win more races and move up."
The run started with his dominant performance in the 10th Historical Big One at Eldora Speedway last Saturday. He chased down early leader Craig Dollansky and led the final 24 laps pulling away from the competition to claim the $100,000 first place prize. On Thursday at the Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals, he debuted a new #15 ParkerStore J&J, that featured a new black and yellow paint scheme, and won a tremendous race over Tyler Walker and Danny Lasoski. Friday night he bounced back after finishing third in the "A" Scramble to win the Kele World Challenge from his 14th-place starting position. He made a last corner pass of leader PJ Chesson to take the $10,000 check.
Everything was set for Saturday's Knoxville Nationals "A" Feature, which Schatz qualified to start seventh in. He was the fastest car in "A" Feature hot laps by two-tenths of a second and was very confident going into the biggest race of the year. He got a tremendous start moving from seventh to fourth. After battling Joey Saldana for ten laps for third place, he finally got by and set his sights on leaders Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser. A caution flag slowed his charge and for the next ten laps he worked his way up to Danny Lasoski and finally passed the 2001 Knoxville Nationals champion for second on lap 26. He had four laps to catch "the King". He mounted a final lap charge, but came up .336 seconds short and finished second in the Nationals for the second time in the last three years.
"I don't know why I've got to finish second in this race," said Schatz. "I'm sure a lot of guys would be happy to finish second in the Nationals, but I want to win it. My team did a great job all week and put me in position to win every night. You can run the race in your mind over and over, but the outcome is still the same. We finished second, so we'll have to come back next year and try again."
The ParkerStore team had a great week financially as well earning $187,000 in the last eight days, which surpassed their total earnings for the year coming into last weeks Historical Big One, which was just over $166,000.
Schatz and the ParkerStore team left Knoxville and are heading west for their four-week Northwest and California tour. They will open with a race on Tuesday night in Billings, MT and will conclude with the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA on September 5-7. Schatz won last year's race at Billings and had several good runs in Washington and closed the swing with a fourth place finish in last year's Gold Cup.