FINISHING UP FRONT Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Eyes Victories in the Armor All J&J as the World of Outlaws Tour Continues Through South Dakota and Nebraska INDIANAPOLIS (July 1, 2009) -- One of the critical factors that helped Donny ...
FINISHING UP FRONT
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Eyes Victories in the Armor All J&J as the World of Outlaws Tour Continues Through South Dakota and Nebraska
INDIANAPOLIS (July 1, 2009) -- One of the critical factors that helped Donny Schatz earn the 2008 World of Outlaws (WoO) championship was where he finished more than half of the races. On 33 different occasions, he finished in first or second place over last year's 64-race WoO schedule. During this year's WoO schedule, the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver has continued to pace the field with 13 top-two finishes.
Twice last year, he finished second at Huset's Speedway in Brandon, S.D., where Schatz will lead the Outlaws into action on Friday night. On Saturday night, the three-time and defending Outlaw champion will look to add the 27th annual Eagle Nationals crown to his distinguished list of accomplishments.
Schatz enters the weekend following a second-place finish last Saturday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J. The runner-up finish ended a two-race winning streak at Knoxville, where Schatz has won eight of his last 13 feature race starts, including three consecutive Knoxville Nationals. Saturday's finish at Knoxville came after he charged from 12th to finish fourth at U.S. 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. Those results allowed him to extend his lead in the 2009 WoO standings to a 76-point advantage.
Friday's return to Huset's Speedway for the annual July show offers Schatz the chance to begin the month of July with a victory. In the last three seasons, the 31-year-old Fargo, N.D., resident has won at least three WoO feature events during July. In 2007, he was victorious five times, including a July 3 triumph at Huset's. Friday's race will be his 21st WoO start at the high-banked 3/8-mile dirt oval, where he made many laps early in his career. Schatz first raced at the track in May 1994 and won his first feature at the track one year later in June 1995. He has a pair of Outlaw wins (April 2001 and July 2007) to go along with 14 top-10s at the track.
Eagle Raceway has hosted the summer classic called "The Eagle Nationals" since the mid-1980s, and the race is one of only a few annual events that Schatz has yet to claim. The high banks of Eagle Raceway have been good to Schatz during his 13-year WoO career. He has made 31 career WoO starts at the track, picking up three "A" feature triumphs and one preliminary feature win. His most recent win came in the fall of 2006, when he put on a thrilling display racing from the 15th starting spot to take the win. Last summer, he finished fourth, which tied his career-best finish in the Eagle Nationals.
Schatz and the Armor All team have completed 32 of the Outlaws' scheduled 84 nights of racing for 2009. The results include eight victories, 20 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s. Schatz continues to lead the WoO Sprint Series championship standings with 4,469 points.
On Friday at Huset's Speedway, the pit gates open at noon CDT, and the grandstands will open at 5 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. For more details, visit the official Web site of Huset's Speedway, www.husets-speedway.com.
On Saturday at Eagle Raceway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT, and the grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the race can be purchased by calling Eagle Raceway at (402) 238-2595. For more information on the event, visit www.slspromotions.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:
The season has now reached July. Your results are similar to the past few years. What is your assessment of the first part of the season?
"I'd say it's been decent, but with a lot of room for improvement. We've probably had more bad finishes this year than we've had in the last four or five. We won some races in ways that were pretty dominant, but we've also come up short more than we'd like to. The key for us is to keep after it.
"July has been good to us in the past and we're hoping to keep up that pace this year. I know the Armor All guys (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) are ready to put a run together and really build some momentum heading to the bigger races that are coming up."
Huset's Speedway was a place where you learned a lot about racing before you went out on the road with the Outlaws. What's it like going to race there now?
"It's always fun to race at some of the places I used to compete at when I was just getting started. When we won there back in 2007, it really felt good to get an Outlaw win there. There were people coming up afterward saying they were there when I couldn't keep the car off the wall and they were happy to see how far we've been able to go.
"Huset's is a unique place. I learned a lot racing there on Sunday nights. When you are just trying to figure things out and guys like Danny Lasoski and Terry McCarl pretty much owned the place, it was tough. It was a place where you really had to learn how to drive, whether it was being able to qualify or dealing with traffic. Traffic is always a factor there, so you learn how to read cars in front of you and know where they were going to go. We certainly learned that you have to make your car work all over the track, not just on the bottom or top.
"We came up one spot short twice there last year. Hopefully, we can be in a position to win the race on Friday."
The Eagle Nationals annually kicks off July and some of the other longstanding Outlaw shows. You've won races at Eagle in the past, but you're still trying to win your first Eagle Nationals. How would a win on Saturday help you and your team head into some of the season's biggest races?
"Any win is going to help you, but there is something about a first win. Whether it's at a track or a particular race. For some reason, we just haven't been as good at Eagle in the summer as we have been in the fall. We won (four) races when they had us come through there in September, and we were always pretty good at those shows.
"The Eagle Nationals has always been a part of the Outlaws' bigger summer races, and we've run well in the race, but just not good enough. The track is really a great place for racing. They normally will have a couple of lines to race on and we're usually dealing with traffic for most of the race. I hope we have the chance to spend a lot of time racing traffic, because our Armor All car really works well when we have to switch lines and move around.
"Things are definitely picking up as far as the number of races we have, so getting that first Eagle Nationals win would be a great way to start July. This team expects to win and feeds off winning. That's our goal and, hopefully, when the race comes down to the end on Saturday night, we'll be one of the guys vying for the victory."
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.