TSR/Donny Schatz Manzanita preview

SEARCHING FOR DESERT SUN Donny Schatz Ready To Resume 2008 Season In Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter At Manzanita Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 26, 2008) -- In Sprint Car racing, being patient isn't the easiest thing for a driver to...

SEARCHING FOR DESERT SUN
Donny Schatz Ready To Resume 2008 Season In Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter At Manzanita Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 26, 2008) -- In Sprint Car racing, being patient isn't the easiest thing for a driver to do. With consecutive weekends of race cancellations thanks to rainouts in both Mississippi and California, two-time defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz has been forced to watch weather reports rather than study set-up sheets for Pike County Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway.

Weekends off aren't the norm for these modern-day Outlaws, and Schatz is ready to get back into his regular routine behind the wheel of the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J on Saturday night.

With the weather forecast looking optimistic for Saturday's fifth annual Cactus Classic at the famed Manzanita Speedway near Phoenix, Schatz is aiming to continue his recent scorching success in the Grand Canyon State.

The Fargo, N.D., resident is the defending event champion after winning last March at the half-mile dirt oval. In the race, he took the lead on lap 13 and led the next 17 circuits en route to claiming his third triumph at the facility and 54th "A" Feature of his career. Since 2004, when Manzanita returned to the WoO schedule annually following a five-year absence, Schatz has six top-four finishes in his last seven starts at the track, including a second-place finish in October 2006 and another second-place run in October 2007 after starting 13th.

In 1968, Manzanita became home to one of Sprint Car racing's biggest events, the Western World Championships. The 1996 Western World Championships was the event in which Schatz made his debut at the Phoenix dirt track following his 1996 WISSOTA National Sprint Car Series championship. At 19, he scored a respectable 14th-place finish and, three months later, he officially began his WoO Rookie of the Year campaign with a 10th-place run at the track.

After three full seasons competing with the Outlaws, Schatz had a breakthrough weekend claiming his first major event victory in October 1999 by winning both nights of the Western World Championships. Since that memorable weekend, Schatz has been able to add nearly every other major Sprint Car triumph to his list of accomplishments.

Schatz and the TSR crew are anxious to add another victory to that list when they get back into competition with the No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J. Even though the TSR team began the 2008 campaign with two wins in three All-Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) races, it is eyeing its first Outlaws triumph of 2008 after earning a pair of second-place finishes and an eighth-place finish at Volusia Speedway Park. Those results put Schatz 23 points behind WoO series leader Craig Dollansky in the championship standings.

Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:

Another weekend without racing ... is it frustrating not being able to get back on the track once again last weekend?

"That's just part of the deal this time of the year. The weather in February can be really good or really bad. You just hope for the best. We were happy they made the decision early enough so that everyone could save on some expenses. Believe me, we want to do everything we can to get a show in, but when the weather was like it was all week and with the prospects of getting more rain over the weekend, it was the right decision. You saw how tough it was for NASCAR to run the events in California, so we weren't alone battling Mother Nature. I'm hoping everything moves through and we have a nice weekend of weather in Arizona and can get back to racing."

Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:

Manzanita Speedway is one of those historic tracks where the Outlaws race. What's it like racing at a place with that much history?

"Every place we go has four corners and has a dirt surface, but after that they are all a little different. I mean, you take Manzanita and it's in this big city (Phoenix), just a few miles west of downtown with scrap yards all around it. Mountains surround the area, so it's pretty scenic. The track can be really fast and bumpy or slow down and be slick and smooth. Like a lot places, it took us a while to figure it out, but once we did our finishes have been pretty consistent. Winning the Western World Championships in 1999 was a really big deal for us. It was my third year with the Outlaws and that weekend was something I'll always remember. I got to race for the win with Mark Kinser and he was one of the best there ever was in a Sprint Car and a guy I really looked up to. He had a problem with a lapped car, and we took advantage of it. Some of the best Sprint Car drivers have won that race and I'm honored and feel lucky to be on that list."

Recently, you've been pretty consistent at the track. What's been the key?

"I really like racing at Manzanita. I enjoy racing on the big, fast half-mile tracks mostly because Ron Shaver builds us some really strong Chevy engines. We really make some good laps around the high-speed places. We need to improve our winning percentage there. We won in the spring when the track stayed fast all night long and just ran out of time in the fall race. I started 13th and was up to third when we had a restart with five laps to go. We got to second and that's where we finished in October of 2006, and then we came back to win the following spring. Maybe we can repeat that and win another one in March. Our goal is getting Tony Stewart Racing, Armor All, Chevy and ParkerStore their first Outlaws win in 2008."

-credit: tsr

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Mark Kinser , Donny Schatz , Craig Dollansky