Knoxville Nationals: Donny Schatz preview

Schatz, Parkerstore Team focus on Sprint Car racing's biggest prize. FARGO, ND - Momentum can be a big factor in the world of motorsports. Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore sprint car team head into this week's 42nd annual Mopar Parts Knoxville...

Schatz, Parkerstore Team focus on Sprint Car racing's biggest prize.

FARGO, ND - Momentum can be a big factor in the world of motorsports. Donny Schatz and his ParkerStore sprint car team head into this week's 42nd annual Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals on a major roll after crushing the field in last weekend's $100,000-to-win Historical Big One.

"Winning the Historical Big One has all of us keyed up for Knoxville big time," said Schatz, who led the final 24 laps to win Saturday's 10th annual Historical Big One. "We haven't had the type of season we all hoped for, but right now we're going to try and capitalize on this momentum we've got going."

The Knoxville Nationals is the hardest race to win in sprint car racing, and Schatz knows that all to well. After leading the first 25 laps two years ago and earning the pole position for last year's race, the Fargo, ND driver has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows at the Nationals.

Schatz will unveil a specially painted #15 ParkerStore J&J on Thursday when he will earn points through qualifying, heat race and preliminary feature. Saturday's "A" feature lineup will be determined by points and Schatz has been in the first two rows the last three years.

"We've had great starting position in the past few Nationals, and all I can hope is that we're in the same situation this year," said Schatz, who won his first career feature at Knoxville Raceway in his preliminary feature last year. "We were on such a roll the first two nights last year and to not even be able to make a lap in the championship was devastating. We picked up and moved on, but it's not something that you just put behind you."

Schatz earned the pole position last year, but never made a lap in the 30-lap feature that paid $125,000 to the winner. Entering the first turn on the opening lap his left rear tire peeled off the rim sending Schatz spinning in front of the entire 24 car field. After his car was hit and rolled, he was taken to the local hospital for observation. He bounced back and won a World of Outlaws feature three days later in Billings, MT.

"Everything has to go right every time you're on the track," continued Schatz, who will be making his ninth Nationals appearance. "We're taking the approach to be our best every time out. Last year, we had a great combination going. This year we've struggled qualifying and that's a concern, but we've raced awful well. We brought out a new Shaver Motor last weekend for the Big One and I've got a lot of confidence in it.

In his last five Nationals qualifying night programs, Schatz has qualified in the top nine, has won his heat race the past four seasons and finished second three times in his preliminary feature to go along with last year's win.

Schatz is also the defending champion of the Kele World Challenge, which includes an international field of drivers that have raced both in Australia and the US. He started 14th and claimed the $10,000 win, and will look to do the same on Friday night.

"If we are as good as we were in last year's World Challenge race, I think we'll make another run at it," continued Schatz, who successfully defended his Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic in Australia last January. "They invert the top 16, so I hope we have to make another run from the back, because that would mean our point total was right up there."

Momentum seems to be contagious and Schatz, who will turn 25 on Saturday, is hoping to join Steve Kinser, Mark Kinser and Dave Blaney by winning both the Historical Big One and Knoxville Nationals in an 8-day span.

-www.donnyschatz.com

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Mark Kinser , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Dave Blaney