THROTTLE CONTROL Reigning World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz Picks up the Pace in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All J&J INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2009) -- In describing a World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint car race, fast is probably the most used ...
Reigning World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz Picks up the Pace in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All J&J
INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2009) -- In describing a World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint car race, fast is probably the most used descriptor. After all, these 1,300-pound cars put out nearly 900 horsepower on dirt tracks that range in size from quarter-miles to half-miles. Lap times can range from under the 10-second mark to closer to 19 seconds, depending on how "fast" the surface is. For three-time and defending WoO champion Donny Schatz, the key is knowing just how fast to go.
This weekend, Schatz continues his trek toward a fourth consecutive WoO title by racing the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J Friday night at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park and Saturday night I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich.
With the heat of summer beginning to surface, the weather affects not only how much Chevy horsepower can be produced by these often-described "rockets on wheels," it also affects the ever-changing characteristics of the dirt on which they race. The warmer the weather, the likelier the tracks will become dryer and much harder to adapt to. For Schatz, that's good news as he's become a master of controlling his racecar when it's not all about using every ounce of horsepower.
This past Monday's race was a perfect example as Schatz decimated the field by almost nine seconds in the 25-lap "A" feature at Canadaigua (N.Y.) Speedway. He simply slowed down to go faster. The ability to keep his wheels moving forward and getting maximum grip was the difference while most of his competition spent 25 laps spinning their wheels.
On Friday night, he'll be back in action in northwest Ohio at the 1/3-mile Attica Raceway Park. The track was the setting for a stellar performance by Schatz and the Armor All team last May, when he led the final 30 laps of the 40-lap "A" feature. The surface that night was hard and slick, allowing Schatz to showcase his talents. This will mark his fourth appearance at the track where his results have been consistently good. He charged from the eighth starting position to finish third in April 2007, and came from the 16th starting spot to finish eighth in July 2005.
The ability to adapt from one track to another is what separates the contenders from the pretenders in the grueling Outlaw series. Following Friday night's shootout in Ohio, Schatz, his TSR teammate Kraig Kinser, and the rest of the WoO stars will travel to western Michigan for a program at I-96 Speedway. The Fargo, N.D., resident has made six career starts at the half-mile track. His first start at the facility came during his rookie season with the Outlaws in 1997, when he finished sixth. His best finish came last July, when he raced from a fourth-row starting position to come home second.
The Armor All team heads into the final two races of May with confidence following Schatz's Memorial Day victory. Last season, the final weekend of May was a watershed for the team as it swept events at Attica and Eldora Speedway to seize control of the point standings, which it never relinquished.
Schatz and the TSR Armor All team have completed 21 feature events to date in the 2009 WoO season. They have six victories, 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s. Schatz currently tops the WoO Sprint Series championship standings with 2,919 points.
On Friday at Attica Raceway Park, the pit gates and grandstands will open at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with the grandstands opening at 4:30 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. For more information, call Attica Raceway Park at (419) 680-5606 or visit www.atticaracewaypark.com.
On Saturday at I-96 Speedway, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT, with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot Laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call I-96 Speedway at (616) 642-0555, or visit www.i96speedway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend's races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, "Voice of the Outlaws," calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
Looking at the stats from the first quarter of the season, it would seem you are right on track for another good year. Are you happy with where you and the Armor All team stand?
"I'd guess I'd say yes and no. We have been able to put a lot of wins on the board. The weather is just now starting to get warm, and that's when we do our best work, it seems. I guess you think about the ones that got away more than ones you've won. We are all about wins, and right now there is a team out there with more Outlaw wins than us. So we've got some work to do.
"We've been really good on the bigger tracks, but our short-track program hasn't been up to our standards. We're trying to learn some things and, maybe as we go through June, our results will be better.
"Last year, this was kind of a turning point for us, so if we can match the summer we had last year to go along with the start we have had, then I'd say we'd be heading in the right direction."
On Monday, you had an incredible run in New York. You mentioned after the race that you slowed the car down and it ended up going faster. How hard is that to do in one of these cars?
"It's certainly a feel that you have to learn in these cars. It comes from making a lot of laps and trying to learn every time you hit the track. With the amount of power these cars have, it's easy to think you can just mash the gas and drive by everyone. The problem is, when the tracks slow down, you have to be able keep the car straight. When you're spinning the tires, car control is really a handful.
"It's a lot of fun to be able to go out there and just cruise right to the front, pick cars off one at a time and see that checkered flag. I've got an incredible group of guys (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) that give me a great car to drive. We just hope we get to race on a lot of slick tracks this summer and keep getting better."
I-96 is a track where you've only raced a few times, and one where you haven't won. Is that the goal of the weekend, to add another track to the list where you haven't scored a WoO win?
"Any time you go to a place where you haven't won, there's motivation. That's why we race ... to win. The conditions are never exactly the same at particular place, so the challenge is always there to figure out a way to be the best when it matters. Wins motivate everyone, and that's why winning the way we did last Monday keeps everyone at Tony Stewart Racing striving for more. We want to try and go back out there and do it again and again. This a great time of the year and we want to take full advantage of the opportunities we have."
For complete WoO Sprint Car Series results, go to www.worldofoutlaws.com. For information regarding TSR, Schatz, Armor All, Chevy, or ParkerStore, visit www.tonystewartracing.com, www.donnyschatz.com, www.aa-ownercenter.com, www.chevrolet.com, or www.parkerstore.com.