SOUTHERN EXPOSURE Donny Schatz Turns Focus Toward Getting First WoO Triumph in Tony Stewart Racing Colors INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 12, 2008) -- After a week that included the grind of six nights of racing in Florida, the world's best Sprint car...
Donny Schatz Turns Focus Toward Getting First WoO Triumph in Tony Stewart Racing Colors
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 12, 2008) -- After a week that included the grind of six nights of racing in Florida, the world's best Sprint car drivers and teams will continue their early season assault on southeastern soil this weekend.
Two-time defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz headlines the list of drivers competing Saturday night at Pike County Speedway (PCS) in Magnolia, Miss., after a successful debut behind the wheel of the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J last week in Florida with six top-10 finishes.
Schatz kicked off the Sprint car racing portion of "Speedweeks" by winning the opening-night feature at Volusia Speedway Park (VSP) and was victorious again on the third night of racing with the All-Star Circuit of Champions. The focus this week is to improve on a pair of second-place finishes and a charge from 24th to eighth in three nights of WoO action at VSP.
His three finishes inside the top-10 during the Outlaws opening weekend have the Fargo, N.D., racer holding the third position in the series standings and continued his streak of 26 consecutive top-10 finishes in WoO action dating back to August 14, 2007.
Schatz has five top-10 finishes in eight career starts at PCS, a 3/8-mile semi-banked dirt oval located just off of Interstate 55 in southern Mississippi. He scored a 10th-place finish at the track as a rookie in 1997, finished third on March 13, 1999, and set a track record during qualifications on April 5, 2000.
Last March, Schatz entered the event at PCS following a flag-to-flag victory at Houston Raceway Park the night before. Despite being the second-to-last car to make a qualifying lap in the 31-car field, he turned the 11th-fastest lap. A heat race victory earned him a position in the Dash, where he finished third.
In the 35-lap main event, Schatz stalked leader Joey Saldana and made several attempts to challenge for the lead, but cautions continually took them out of traffic. Late in the race, the surface rubbered up and passing became non-existent, so Schatz was forced to settle for second, his third consecutive top-10 finish a the track.
On Saturday, Schatz will look to make it one position better and pick up his first WoO triumph of 2008. He has 70 career WoO wins, tying him with Dave Blaney for sixth all-time. He has won at 43 tracks in 26 states and is hoping to make that 44 and 27, respectively, with a victory in Magnolia.
The pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday at PCS, and the main grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are set to begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. The official track Web site is www.pikecountyspeedway.com. Tickets can be purchased by calling (504) 394-5530.
Race fans can also listen to all the action from the weekend on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Visit www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other fans listening to the action.
Quotes from Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
You've started the season in Florida and now the schedule heads west. What are your thoughts after one week of action?
"We had a good start to the week by getting a couple of wins, but you always have the last race on your mind. We finished eighth and we're the type of team expecting to win every night. The best thing we can do is put Florida behind us and look toward Magnolia. We did a lot of testing with several things last week that will help us. I can honestly say that Tony Stewart Racing has assembled the best group of guys that I have ever had working on my car. Ricky Warner, Shane Bowers, Kyle Sundby and Evan Funk worked extremely hard last week. Then you add the fact that Jimmy Carr and his guys from the 20 team were also right there with us all week, and it's evident we have great manpower to get the job done. Racing in Florida is not like racing anywhere else. We came up short on Friday and Saturday night by one spot. And Sunday, we were the first car to qualify and didn't do the job we needed to. When you qualify 32nd, it makes for a long night, but no one gave up or got down. We kept working on the car and had it really nice at the end of the race. We just needed a few more laps. I don't think we'll race six nights in a row again this year, so the experience really helped our guys gel as a unit and I know we'll have the kind of success we are all expecting to have this year."
What challenges does the Pike County Speedway present?
"Pike County is one of those slick tracks in the South that you hope will stay slick all night long. We're excited to get there because we've got a great package with our Shaver-built Chevy engines and the J&J cars. I felt like I was going to win there last year, but Joey (Saldana) started up front and we never got to race him in traffic before the rubber came in. We're ready to get back on the top of the podium. I've always said getting your first Outlaws win of the season is the toughest. I haven't won at Magnolia before and they always have a ton of fans come out, so nothing would make me happier than getting this Armor All team a victory on Saturday night."
There's only one night of racing this week. Does that help your focus as a team?
"Last week was kind of unusual because we were on the same track six nights in a row. This week, we get one night of racing, so everything is magnified. You get one chance to qualify, one heat race, hopefully a Dash and then one feature. There's pressure on everything, but that's how we like it. We've got a good notebook on Pike County, so where we start the night and how we adapt to the track throughout the evening should remain consistent."
For complete Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series results, log on to www.worldofoutlaws.com. For information regarding TSR, Schatz, Armor All, Chevy, or ParkerStore, log on to www.tonystewartracing.com, www.donnyschatz.com, www.aa-ownercenter.com, www.chevrolet.com, or www.parkerstore.com.