Donny Schatz Nominated for 2006 Economaki Champion of Champions Award Concord, NC--Nov. 29, 2006 -- Readers of National Speed Sport News became very familiar with Donny Schatz this past season, as he graced the cover of the famed publication a...
Donny Schatz Nominated for 2006 Economaki Champion of Champions Award
Concord, NC--Nov. 29, 2006 -- Readers of National Speed Sport News became very familiar with Donny Schatz this past season, as he graced the cover of the famed publication a number of times, as well as leading their Power Rankings for a portion of the season. He also writes a column entitled "Snap Schatz" that has appeared regularly in the paper for the past couple of seasons.
Schatz garnered plenty of coverage as he won his first World of Outlaws Sprint Series title on the strength of 17 A-Feature wins, and an impressive 42 Top-Five finishes. Equally impressive, was his victory in the Knoxville Nationals, a win that had eluded him on four previous occasions, when he was the runner-up in sprint car racing's biggest event. The win earned him $140,000, and more importantly entered him on a page in sprint car racing history that will never be erased.
For the past three seasons, NSSN has awarded the Economaki Champion of Champions. The award that goes to the driver of the year is named after the longtime Editor and Publisher Emeritus of the paper, the legendary Chris Economaki.
For drivers to earn a nomination, they must have won a title in North America during the 2006 season. Schatz is one of 10 finalists for the award, which will be presented by Economaki himself on Thursday December 14, at the annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, held in Orlando, Florida.
After a very consistent start to the season, Schatz visited the winners circle for the first time at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, the same day he took the championship points leads, a lead that he would never relinquish.
Among his memorable victories during the season was the annual Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway that earned him $30,000. The native of Fargo, North Dakota also swept a weekend at his home track of Red River Valley Speedway in the middle of June.
One of Schatz's most impressive wins of the campaign came on September 15 in the 1/3-Mile Short Track Nationals at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway, a week after a horrific accident at the Gold Cup Race of Champions. At Eagle, he started 15th in the A-Feature and quickly worked his way into the Top-Five and took the lead with just three laps remaining to earn the distinction of winning from the farthest starting position all season. He backed that win up the following night by winning on the half-mile at Jackson (Minn.) Speedway.
One of the most emotional wins of the season for Schatz came at USA Race Park in Tucson, Arizona on October 21, a day after World of Outlaws founder Ted Johnson passed away. Schatz dedicated the win to his friend and the man who helped him as well as so many other drivers make a career out of sprint car racing.
Schatz capped the season in style by winning the finale at The Dirt Track
Las Vegas Speedway, and was honored as the series titlist the following evening, receiving the championship trophy and inaugural championship ring, along with the $200,000 winner's share of the point fund.
When the final statistics were tallied up, Schatz aboard the Parker Store J&J, led the series in most categories. He racked up over $372,000 in season earnings. He led 441 laps, over 150 more circuits than the next closest driver. In time trials, he stopped the clock first nine times, to lead all drivers, while setting new track records at Orange County Fair Speedway in New York, as well as Southern Oregon Speedway. Schatz was also tied for the series lead with eight dash wins that earned him the same number of pole positions.
Tim McCreadie, who claimed his first World of Outlaws Late Model Series title, is also a finalist for the award. McCreadie won two races on the season, and racked up 23 Top-10 finishes, along with winning the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals to open up the season.
Other finalists include: Jorg Bergmeister who won titles in both the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype and the American Le Mans Series GT2 classes, Sebastien Bourdais, who won his third-straight Champ Car World Series Title, John Force, who won his 14th NHRA Funny Car title, Kevin Harvick who won his second NASCAR Busch Series title, and finished fourth in NASCAR Nextel Cup points, Sam Hornish Jr., who won his third Indy Racing League title, Jimmie Johnson, who won his first NASCAR Nextel Cup title, Tony Schumacher, who won his third-straight and fourth overall NHRA Top Fuel title, and Josh Wise, who won his first USAC Sprint Car title and second overall USAC title.
Steve Kinser, who has won a record 20 World of Outlaws Sprint Series titles, and will contend for the 2007 title, was awarded the Economaki Champion of Champions Award in 2004.