World of Outlaws Sprint Series Racers Building Momentum Toward 2006 Season Norman, OK -- Oct. 6, 2005 -- With the grandstands filled as well as the pits, the Cleveland Brothers National Open at Williams Grove Speedway was just the most recent...
World of Outlaws Sprint Series Racers Building Momentum Toward 2006 Season
Norman, OK -- Oct. 6, 2005 -- With the grandstands filled as well as the pits, the Cleveland Brothers National Open at Williams Grove Speedway was just the most recent success story this season on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series tour.
The importance of Donny Schatz's third victory in the prestigious event at the intimidating half-mile oval was unmistakable in the celebration that followed. First his family and crew, then the Elams of J&J Chassis, the Hummers Gone Wild girls and finally the Beer Hill Gang all wanted a couple of minutes to pose with Schatz, who even donned an Elvis mask in the party.
The race is a clear indication, especially with Daryn Pittman finishing second, Terry McCarl setting the pace in time trials, and Schatz, Pittman and Dollansky all locked into the main event, that the Outlaws are geared up to help shape the future of sprint car racing.
The powerful finish to the season by current drivers competing with the series in 2006 -- Dollansky, Schatz, Pittman, McCarl and Brooke Tatnell -- showcases the series' strengths. Those drivers have won six of the past eight races, including preliminaries and features. Schatz hasn't finished outside the top 10 since the middle of August, and even then he was leading when mechanical failure prevented a victory that wound up going to Pittman, who has earned four of his five wins since the Knoxville Nationals.
"The World of Outlaws is going to continue on," said Schatz, a Mean 15 racer from Fargo, N.D., who has eight A-feature victories this season. "They're just going to have a competitor. I don't feel as if we've done anything wrong. We're going to continue to support the World of Outlaws. I just have to focus on getting my racecar the best I can every night and keep it up front. That's what we're here for."
There's a camaraderie that has developed among the five teams, with each pulling for one another as the season winds down -- unless they're racing each other to the checkered flag, which has happened in three of the past four A-feature events. There are seven race nights left on the 2005 schedule, beginning with a two-night program this weekend at Dodge City Raceway Park in Dodge City, Kan.
"I heard Schatz the other night in the interview was just happy that one of us won," said Pittman, a Mean 15 racer and native of Owasso, Okla. "It's a confidence boost for us, and I don't think it has anything to do with it, but honestly we have something to prove. I'm pulling for those four as much as I hope they're pulling for me. If we can finish up this strong then I think the fans will have a hard time saying they're not wanting to support a World of Outlaws show. I think we do bring a class field even without some of the big hitters that are leaving and we can definitely put on a show as good as they are used to seeing. I think we're out to prove that right now."
McCarl sees the changing face of sprint car racing in much the same way.
"I think the fans at first are a little disappointed if Steve Kinser isn't in an Outlaw show next year," said McCarl, a six-time Knoxville Raceway champion from Altoona, Iowa. "He's the best sprint car driver that ever lived. But if they look at the long run, I think they're going to see a lot of great racing, a lot of new guys coming up and winning races. It's sprint car racing. I don't care where you go, a sprint car is exciting to watch. The World of Outlaws are going to put on exciting races no matter where we're at or who's there."
This strong run has been a boost to the spirits of those drivers who are preparing and testing equipment for a quick start to the 2006 Outlaws tour, which launches in February at a renovated Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
"It's definitely good for morale," said Brooke Tatnell, a two-time A-feature winner this season from San Souci, New South Wales, Australia. "It's getting everyone inspired to really show the race fans that the be all and end all of sprint car racing is not Steve Kinser. Steve Kinser is not going to be around in 10 years time, this is the future here. The wins that are on the board for the guys who are sticking around are awesome, and it definitely keeps the momentum going for the rest of the year."
It's that momentum among some of the most competitive dirt-track racers in the world that has everybody associated with the series looking forward to launching next season.
"We're excited about 2006," said Dollansky, a Mean 15 racer from Elk River, Minn., who has two A-feature wins and three preliminary victories. "There are some very strong teams that have stuck with the World of Outlaws and there definitely won't be a drop in the competition level. The teams that have signed with DIRT are solid. I look forward to the future with the World of Outlaws and making the series strong."