2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Donny Schatz Concord, NC-- February 3, 2009--Donny Schatz is a firm believer that if you win enough races the points will take care of themselves. He proved that notion to be true for the third...
2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Donny Schatz
Concord, NC-- February 3, 2009--Donny Schatz is a firm believer that if you win enough races the points will take care of themselves. He proved that notion to be true for the third consecutive year in 2008, as he won a series-best 18 times en route to his third consecutive World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship.
The 2008 title came in his first year driving for Tony Stewart Racing as part of a two-car effort for the NASCAR star's team, after driving a family owned car for his first two World of Outlaws championships.
Schatz is gearing up to defend his title again this season as the World of Outlaws begin the season on Friday, February 6 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.
"It's been a great off-season, but it's always fun to get back in the swing of things," said Schatz. "It's good to get down there to Florida and we run six nights in a row, so that will be one of the most grueling stretches of the year. It will be fun to get going and hopefully we can get things started right."
In his career at Volusia Speedway Park, Schatz has won four times, including twice last season. He won his first World of Outlaws event at the half-mile on opening night in 2007. He has 13 career Top-10 finishes at Volusia, with 10 of those being Top-Five performances. He finished eighth or better in all six events at the half-mile in 2008, with four of those being Top-Two performances. Dating back to 2007, he has 10 consecutive finishes of eighth or better at the track.
"Everyone has been sitting around and is ready to get rolling," he noted of the competition in Florida. "It is tough, but the same guys win races and end up where they are supposed to. It's fun to go down there and is probably some of the toughest racing all year. You have all the Pennsylvania guys there and others from the Midwest. It's quite an event and I always look forward to it."
Schatz competed in Australia for a couple weeks during the off-season, picking up five wins in eight starts. His final win Down Under came at Brisbane International Speedway, where he lapped the entire field in a non-stop 50-lap contest for the World Series Sprintcars. He finished fourth in better in all but one start in Australia.
"It does help keep the rust away a little bit, but it's not the cure-all," he explained of racing in the off-season. "It helps sometimes to take a little bit of your focus away from here away and you need that every now and then. It's great to be able to go there and spend some time in the sun and in the ocean too, which I really enjoy going in the ocean."
Schatz will again have veteran crew chief Ricky Warner turning the wrenches this season, along with Shane Bowers and a new crew member Keith Turney from Texas. With the team being based in Brownsburg, Indiana they will be able to stop back at the shop several times over the course of the season to regroup during the always demands 80-plus race World of Outlaws season.
"Everything looks really good," he said of his crew. "Ricky has been helping his son with quarter-midget racing and that has helped him to be able to get away from the shop a little. Shane Bowers has been with me for a while and he is a very loyal worker and without those two guys, I would not have had the fun I have had the last three years. We have a new addition to the team as well this year, 'Wolfie' (Keith Turney) from (Wolfe City) Texas. Also Jimmy Carr is the General Manager at Tony Stewart Racing and that will be an asset to us. We are looking forward to it. Hopefully we can do things a little smoothly than the past and most importantly have some fun along the way."
The native of Fargo, North Dakota will have five chances to race in his home state this season, including twice at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, where he won last season. The World of Outlaws will also visit Nodak Speedway in Minot, where Schatz was born and raised, as well a stop at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo and Dacotah Speedway in Mandan. Schatz has three career wins with the World of Outlaws in his home state.
"When you come home it's great to see the people that you don't get to see on an everyday basis," he shared. "It just goes to show how strong sprint car racing is in this part of the country. It used to be where Fargo was the only race and now they have five races in North Dakota and all of them are sell-out crowds. It shows how the fans see the World of Outlaws in this part of the country and how important it is to them."
Schatz began the 2008 season with 48 consecutive Top-10 finishes and wrapped up the year with a series-best 58 finishes of 10th or better in the 63 A-Feature events that were contested. He also led the series in money earned. In addition he was fastest in time trials on eight occasions and won the Crane Cams Dash five times to earn pole positions in A-Feature events. He looks to use that solid foundation to start the 2009 strong as well and does not see any added pressure driving for Tony Stewart as part of a two-car effort along with Kraig Kinser.
"It's just the pressure I put on myself," said Schatz. "I've worked awful hard to put myself in this position. My guys have worked hard to put me in this position as well. To do anything but what we did last year would be a definitely let down. It's just our expectation is to be able to go back and do it again. We'll probably focus on some of the bigger races more and try to hit our goals there. We just look to meet our expectations."
In winning the World of Outlaws championship in 2008, Schatz became the only driver other than 20-time series champion Steve Kinser to win at least three consecutive titles over the 30 year history of the series. With one of the strongest fields every assembled this season following the World of Outlaws full-time, Schatz and his team are ready for the challenge they will face each and every night in search of another championship.
"It's definitely going to take a consistent season like we have had in the past," he stated. "This is probably the best position I have ever been sitting in to win a championship. The homework that we have done in the off-season, the testing that we did in the fall, I don't think I have ever come into a race season more confident and more prepared. That's something that we are excited about and something you work for in this sport. I just can't wait to get on the race track. We just need to focus on what is important and winning races is the most important and consistently winning races. If we can do that, I am pretty sure we can win a championship."
The 2009 World of Outlaws season opens on February 6 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH. For more information on the event, including tickets, visit: www.dirtcarnationals.com.