BIG TIME ON BIG TRACKS Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Looks To Keep Armor All J&J Ahead of the Pack in Outlaws' First Visit to Eldora Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (May 5, 2009) -- The fastest way from point A to point B is not always a straight...
BIG TIME ON BIG TRACKS
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Looks To Keep Armor All J&J Ahead of the Pack in Outlaws' First Visit to Eldora Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS (May 5, 2009) -- The fastest way from point A to point B is not always a straight line, according to Donny Schatz. The way things have been going for the three-time and defending World of Outlaws (WoO) champion, the fastest way to another series title might be by meandering his way through the smaller circles and leaving the short tracks behind him, then returning to the tracks where Chevy horsepower and speed are king.
Following his fourth WoO victory of the season last Saturday night, Schatz and the Armor All-backed team of Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) look to continue their proficiency on half-mile ovals this weekend when they compete at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, arguably the fastest half-mile dirt track in the world.
Schatz will drive the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J in the Friday-Saturday doubleheader at Eldora carrying the momentum of his victory last weekend at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. The feature win capped a determined effort in which Schatz topped the field of 47 cars in qualifying, scored a heat race victory from the fourth starting position, and charged from his seventh starting position to capture the 25-lap main event.
Winning at Knoxville has become a recurring story for the resident of Fargo, N.D., and he would like to become a more consistent winner at Eldora. He has four wins at the track in 69 career starts, scoring his first in August 2002, when he pocketed $100,000 after a near-perfect drive in the Historical Big One. In the spring of 2003, Schatz made it two in a row at "The Big E" with an April WoO preliminary feature win.
Since the middle of his first WoO championship season in 2006, he has not finished outside the top-seven in 12 WoO Eldora starts. In July 2007, he broke his victory draught at the track in a big way by blistering the Kings Royal field, a race he won by more than eight seconds. Last season, he scored a thrilling victory in May by chasing down race leader Jason Meyers. The victory pushed him into the WoO points lead that he wouldn't relinquish the rest of 2008. In his last race at the track during the Outlaws portion of the Chevy American Revolution weekend last September, Schatz finished in fourth place for the third consecutive time.
Schatz' 92nd career WoO triumph last Saturday night continued his 2009 pattern of success on half-mile tracks. The success began in February at Volusia Speedway Park (VSP) in Barberville, Fla., where, in his 2009 debut, he raced from the 23rd position to victory in the 30-lap All-Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC)-sanctioned feature event. He scored three other Florida triumphs at VSP, as well as a victory in late February on the half-mile dirt oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A 15th-place finish at Manzanita Speedway in March is the only blemish on his big-track results this season, which include six wins (two ASCoC wins at VSP), a second, an eighth and the 15th-place finish at Manzanita.
The Knoxville race was the 15th feature event of the 2009 WoO season. Schatz has four victories, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He currently ranks second in the WoO Sprint Series championship standings with 2,062 points, trailing leader Steve Kinser by 25 markers.
On Friday at Eldora Speedway, the pit gates and grandstands will open at 3 p.m. EDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m., with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact Eldora Speedway at (937) 338-3815. The official Web site of the track is www.eldoraspeedway.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:
Last weekend's result at Knoxville was a welcome change from the finishes at Riverside International Speedway and Tri-State Speedway. What was the key to having the kind of night you did at Knoxville?
"Everything we do is a total team effort. No one was happy with how things went the week before. We all got back to the basics, hoping it would get us back to running in contention. The guys on the Armor All team (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) worked hard at the shop and got me a car that was fast from qualifying on. And they stayed after it all night. We win as a team and we lose as a team, so having the kind of night we did a Knoxville was a better dose of reality than the kind we had the week before.
"We knew that we were going to be done with the short tracks for a while, and getting back to places like Knoxville, Eldora and Williams Grove was going to benefit us. Our big-track program is really solid. We'll try to build on what we learned from Knoxville and see if we can get better this weekend and beyond."
You have had a lot of success on big tracks during your career and have won races at Eldora, but not as many as you would have liked, thus far. What's different about Eldora than, say, places like Knoxville and Williams Grove?
"They are all fast, but they are all their own animal. You have to treat them all differently. Even though we do some things at Knoxville and different things at Williams Grove, those things don't always translate to success at Eldora. I felt like it took me forever to figure out the best way to get around there, and I'm still not sure about that.
"Early in my career, Dave Blaney was just unstoppable at Eldora. He knew how to get a racecar around there. The last few years, Steve (Kinser) has been really good there, and Joey (Saldana) is always one of the guys to beat there. We felt like we've left some races on the table at Eldora that we maybe should have won in the past. We have won a couple, lately, but consistency is what we are after. I've consistently been a top-five car there, but we want to be consistently fighting for wins.
"The progressive banking in the track may have made it more like the old days, where you have to be right on the fence. If everybody is up there trying to knock the wall down, having a car that works in other places, like the middle, isn't always a bad thing. I know TSR has some great minds working on both the Armor All team and the (No. 20) Bass Pro Shops team. I'm sure they'll give me a great car for the weekend. We'll just have to see what the track is like and do our best."
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.