2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Donny Schatz Concord, NC-- December 19, 2008--Donny Schatz opened a new chapter in his racing career this past season, as he joined forces with Tony Stewart Racing in pursuit of his third consecutive World...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Donny Schatz
Concord, NC-- December 19, 2008--Donny Schatz opened a new chapter in his racing career this past season, as he joined forces with Tony Stewart Racing in pursuit of his third consecutive World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series title. He picked up right where he left off last season, winning a series-best 18 A-Feature events, en route to the 2008 championship.
In winning the title, he joined 20-time series champion Steve Kinser as the only driver that has won at least three titles in a row in the 30-year history of the series. Schatz also moved into the Top-Five in all-time wins with the World of Outlaws, as he now has 88 A-Feature victories.
"It was a great year," said Schatz. "Championships are definitely won and lost by how long you struggle and stumble. We didn't do it very long. The last few years we have put the most wins on the board. That's probably the biggest factor in that. We won 18 races and had something like 17 seconds, so that's over 50 percent of the races that we were first or second, and that's big. It was a great year. The guys on this Armor All Chevy team surpassed themselves again and did a great job. Even when we are winning racing and feeling good, they are not satisfied with that. They keep charging and keep plugging away. It's a good feeling."
Schatz, who won his first two World of Outlaws title while driving for his family owned team, claimed the second series title for his car owner Tony Stewart, and the first for Chevrolet with the series. He also had the chance to race against his boss at Sharon Speedway in an event in June, a race that Schatz won. Including his pre-season wins in Australia, the North Dakota native wrapped up the year with 25 total wins.
"I don't know that there was really pressure there," he explained of driving for the high profile owner. "I was hired to do what I have done in the past, but these guys know that just because I came here (a championship) wasn't a guaranteed deal. They built this team from the ground up. All of my equipment is still sitting at home, it's not like we rolled everything over and had an easy transition. They did a great job and went out and got us a great sponsor in Armor All. It was an awesome. We're working to get things even better for next year. I'm glad to have a good year like we had."
Schatz began the season with 48 consecutive Top-10 finishes and wrapped the year up with a series leading 58 finishes of 10th or better in the 63 A-Feature events that were contested. He took the point lead for the first time after a win at Eldora Speedway on May 31. He would not relinquish the top spot for the rest of the season.
Schatz was victorious at 16 different tracks this season with the World of Outlaws. He won twice with the series at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Iowa, including his first win of the year with the World of Outlaws in early May. That marked his first series win driving for Tony Stewart Racing. He also was victorious at his boss's track of Eldora Speedway as well as the famed Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. Wins also came for Schatz at: Attica Raceway Park in Ohio, Tri-City Speedway in Illinois, Sedalia' State Fair Speedway in Missouri, Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas, River Cities Speedway in his home state of North Dakota, Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin, Riverside International Speedway in Arkansas, K-C Raceway in Ohio, Cottage Grove Speedway in Oregon, Clay County Fair Speedway in Iowa, Princeton Speedway in Minnesota, Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas and The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway to wrap up the season in the second annual VAULT World Finals live on SPEED.
Another highlight of the season was that he swept an event for the first time in his career, accomplishing that feat at Hollywood Hills Speedway in October, setting fast time, winning the first heat race, winning the Crane Cams Dash and leading all 30-laps of the A-Feature. He also won his third consecutive Knoxville Nationals, joining Steve Kinser as the only drivers in the history of sprint car racing's biggest race to accomplish that.
While Schatz received the accolades for all of his wins, he was always quick to credit his crew led by crew chief Ricky Warner, along with Shane Bowers and Kyle Sundby, who worked endlessly to give him a fast car each and every night, against one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the 30-year history of the World of Outlaws.
"Guys get on to some of the stuff that you are doing and that's a good thing," he said of the competition this season. "The nice thing about being where we are at is that when we do something, we understand why and how it does it each time. That's why we have put ourselves in this position. These guys do get tougher every year and things will change again next season. With the new wing rule, that will change things and we have been working on that for the last three months and we're on top of it. Hopefully that helps us out at the start of the year."
For his third consecutive World of Outlaws title, Schatz received $200,000 at the Night of Champions last month in Charlotte, North Carolina. He received the nearly 50-pound champion's trophy again this year in addition to the signature champion's ring.
"I want to thank everyone at Tony Stewart Racing for giving me this opportunity," said Schatz upon receiving the championship hardware. "You have given me a place to race for my future. Without everyone's support, there is no way that we would be here. To my crew, thank you guys for your hard work. I couldn't have done this without your dedication. Thanks to all the competitors. If we didn't have the drive that we did, we couldn't have 'The Greatest Show on Dirt' that Ted Johnson created and the great races that we have."
As has become a tradition for Schatz, he will head to Australia over the winter to do some racing against a number of fellow World of Outlaws drivers to gear up for the 2009 season. He has over 40 wins in his career Down Under, including four consecutive in the $50,000 to-win event at Parramatta City Speedway, which he has won seven times in his career.
"I'll be going, but I'll have a much less schedule that I have there in the past," shared the three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion. "I plan on going to Parramatta right after Christmas and running four or five races, then coming back home. I won't be there as much time, but we'll go there and enjoy it. I'll probably enjoy my time at home more than anything."
The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.