SEEKING CALIFORNIA SUCCESS Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Out To Get First Outlaws Triumph in Golden State Since 2007 INDIANAPOLIS (March 10, 2009) -- "Winning is all that matters." That's been the mantra of three-time and defending World...
SEEKING CALIFORNIA SUCCESS
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Out To Get First Outlaws Triumph in Golden State Since 2007
INDIANAPOLIS (March 10, 2009) -- "Winning is all that matters." That's been the mantra of three-time and defending World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz in recent seasons. With three wins in the first four 2009 WoO races, Schatz and the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) team have made it clear that wins continue to be the only thing that they are interested in.
When Schatz and the TSR team compete in the 23rd annual Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway (SDS) in Chico, Calif., this weekend, the challenge will be to end their victory draught in California. In four 2008 starts in the Golden State, Schatz finished 21st, 25th, 13th and 15th. The finishes marked four of only five times in 69 starts last season when Schatz didn't finish inside the top-10.
Finishing inside the top-10 hasn't been a problem for the Fargo, N.D., resident this season. He won the opening-night feature at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., on Feb. 6, then picked up his second triumph two nights later at the same track. He won the WoO series' most recent event at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) on Feb. 26, leading the final 15 laps of the 30-lap feature to collect his 91st career WoO triumph.
The win at LVMS was his 21st feature win since his last California victory, which came at the Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., in October 2007.
During his 12-year WoO career, Schatz has entered 24 races at the high-banked quarter-mile dirt oval, including last September when he competed in his 12th Gold Cup Race of Champions at SDS. He began the event by qualifying 12th in the 52-car field and finishing second in the fourth heat race. A sixth-place finish in the dash earned him a third-row starting position in the 30-lap feature, where he charged into second with 10 laps remaining. During the next four laps, he closed the gap on race leader Craig Dollansky before a lapped car spun directly in front of the Armor All sprinter and collected Schatz. The result was a DNF, forcing Schatz to use a provisional starting position two nights later in the Gold Cup finale. Unfortunately, a broken component slowed his charge and he was credited with a 25th -place finish.
Schatz's best results at SDS came in September 2004, when he dominated the event by leading all 30 laps of the preliminary feature and all 40 laps of the finale to capture his first Gold Cup trophy.
With four of 84 scheduled nights of WoO racing complete, Schatz has three victories and an eighth-place finish. He currently leads the WoO Sprint Series Championship standings with 597 points.
On Friday and Saturday at Silver Dollar Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. PDT, while the grandstands gates will open at 5 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details, contact Silver Dollar Speedway at (916) 969-7484, or visit the track's official Web site at www.silverdollarspeedway.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 started well for you and the team. Why do you think you and your team have been able to win three of the first four Outlaw races and five of your first seven starts?
"The biggest reason is that this Tony Stewart Racing team was prepared to win as soon as we unloaded the car in Florida. Last year at this time, we were all still adapting to a new situation. We finally found our stride about May and went from there. The people in this organization were looking for results and we set our goals pretty high. When you have great people in the right places, it makes the entire operation work well.
"My crew (Ricky Warner, Shane Bowers and Keith Turney) did a great job during the offseason and have done so at the track, too. There have been some decisions that we've had to make under pressure during the night that have really worked out well. Bottom line is that they are giving me a really good racecar, and I feel fortunate to be the one who gets to drive it every night."
You won the last race in Florida before having a couple of weeks off, and then did the same in Las Vegas. How important is it that you won right before having a couple of weeks off?
"It's always good to win, and this Armor All team really expects to win. Mother Nature kind of gave us an extra week off and the guys were able to go back to Indiana for a few days. Winning keeps everyone motivated. You think of ways that you can be better.
"Las Vegas was special because we had a lot of extra people in the TSR trailers. Tony (Stewart) and Ryan Newman were there both nights, watching the USAC guys and both (TSR WoO teammate) Kraig (Kinser) and I. We had people from Chevrolet there, and then a big group of people from Armor All was out, as well. It was great to be able to win and have everyone enjoy it with us.
"Now, the key is getting back to the track and winning the next race."
Last year, your results in California weren't quite up to par. What will you try to do differently this year?
"California tracks can be a totally different thing from one night to the next. Last fall, when we were out there, we were in test mode and maybe that had something to do with our results. Actually, during our qualifying night at Chico, we ended up being pretty good and probably had a chance to win the race before the lapped car spun in front of me. After that, we had to come from way back and, typically, the tracks stay pretty wet and fast, so it makes coming from the back a lot tougher.
"I have no doubt Ricky and the guys will put a good car under me this weekend. It's usually pretty wet in March at most places, so we'll game-plan for that. I did try some things in Australia this past winter, which may help us too. We're hoping to have a couple of strong nights and be in a good position late in the race and maybe have a chance at the win. That's what my team expects and, hopefully, we can give our sponsors --
Armor All, Chevy, ParkerStore -- a couple more strong finishes."
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.