GOLDEN STATE RETURN Schatz Makes West Coast Debut in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter, Looks To Continue His Winning Streak at Thunderbowl Raceway INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 19, 2008) -- After kicking off the 2008 Sprint Car racing season ...
GOLDEN STATE RETURN
Schatz Makes West Coast Debut in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter, Looks To Continue His Winning Streak at Thunderbowl Raceway
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 19, 2008) -- After kicking off the 2008 Sprint Car racing season during Speedweeks in Florida, two-time defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz was ready to hit the road and build some momentum behind the wheel of the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature forced the cancellation of last week's event in Magnolia, Miss., so his trek toward a third WoO title will now resume in California this weekend as the Outlaws venture to Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. It will mark the second time in three weekends that the Outlaws are competing in the same state as the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series. TSR team owner Tony Stewart will be racing in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide events just down the road this weekend at California Speedway in Fontana.
Although Schatz' three finishes top-10 finishes during the Outlaws' opening weekend in Florida continued his streak of 26 consecutive top-10s in WoO action dating back to August 14, 2007, Schatz is focused on earning his first WoO victory of the 2008 season as quickly as possible.
In nine career starts at Thunderbowl Raceway, Schatz has finished in the top-six seven times, including podium finishes in five of his last six starts. In 2005, he twice won fast qualifier awards at the track, and he earned his first victory at the 1/3-mile California bullring by leading eight of the final nine laps on October 14, 2005.
After using a provisional starting position in last February's opening-night race, the Fargo, N.D., racer charged from 25th to finish 12th. The following night, he was in contention throughout the main event and finished third.
In his return to Tulare last October, Schatz was riding a two-race winning streak that started with his fourth Williams Grove National Open triumph. The day before the October 13 race, Schatz joined TSR owner Tony Stewart and representatives of Armor All in Charlotte to unveil the 2008 scheme for the No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J.
Following his cross-continental flight, Schatz was the class of the field, qualifying fourth, finishing second in his heat race, winning the dash event and leading all 35 laps of the inaugural Dave Helm Memorial to claim his third WoO win in a row.
Schatz and the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J team enter this weekend's racing action ranked third in the WoO Sprint Series Championship standings. The team has earned a pair of second-place finishes and an eighth-place finish in three series events thus far in 2008, putting Schatz only 23 points behind series leader Craig Dollansky in the championship standings.
Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
Early in the season, your schedule isn't quite as busy as it is later in the summer. Does that make it tougher on you as a driver?
"I want to race every day, so when things happen like last weekend's rainout that makes it tough. I know we can't control the weather, but we want to get back on the track. Florida kind of spoiled us where we got to race six nights in a row. By the last night, it got a little draining on everyone, but it beats the alternative of not racing for a couple of weeks. We want to get better every time we hit the track, but when you have a couple of weeks between races, you start thinking about everything you did the last time you were on the track. You have to just let it go and be ready for the next race. That's what makes the busy part of our season easier. Because you don't have time to look back, you're always concentrating on where you are going next."
You've had success at Tulare in the past. What's been the key to your success?
"Tulare is a typical California track. What I mean by that is they usually have a wet, heavy track early in the night and then it will slick off to a cushion. Sometimes it's slick all the way off and sometimes you'll end up with a big curb for a cushion. Getting your car where you can run through the slick and keep it straight is sometimes an advantage. If guys are all up pounding the cushion, you have to find another way around them. Tulare reminds me somewhat of River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks. I raced in Grand Forks a lot when I first got started, so I learned quite a few different ways to get around those tight, little tracks and maneuver through traffic. The biggest key for us at Tulare is getting qualified well. Ron Shaver builds us some stout Chevy motors and you need that horsepower to keep your car stuck early in the night."
With two consecutive nights at the same track, will you experiment the first night?
"We're out to win every night we go on the track with our Armor All car. Every race is important, so you can't sacrifice one night for another. If we find something that works well on Friday night, maybe we can use some of that information on Saturday night. I'm a big believer in staying ahead of the rest of the field and not letting them catch up to what we're doing. (Crew chief) Ricky (Warner) and all the TSR guys give me a great car every night, and we will try new things to keep getting us better. The thing with dirt track racing is that the tracks are always different. The amount of water that goes onto the track during the day before a race, if it's warm, sunny, how many cars are there ... there are a number of things that make having two exact tracks pretty much impossible. The good thing for us is that we've raced all across the country in a variety of conditions. We've become pretty good at predicting what a track will do throughout the night. The bottom line is getting your car operating at its best during the last half of the feature event so that you can challenge for the win. My guys do a great job of that. We're hoping to have a couple of really good nights in Tulare this weekend, so we'll see if we can bring TSR and the partners from Armor All, Chevy and ParkerStore their first two World of Outlaws wins of the season."