BACK TO BASICS Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Begins Crucial Three-Week Stretch Trying to Build Momentum as Sprint Car Racing's Biggest Races Approach INDIANAPOLIS (July 8, 2009) -- Expecting the best and accepting nothing less is a motto...
BACK TO BASICS
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Begins Crucial Three-Week Stretch Trying to Build Momentum as Sprint Car Racing's Biggest Races Approach
INDIANAPOLIS (July 8, 2009) -- Expecting the best and accepting nothing less is a motto that only a few can live by. Reaching the top and staying on top are quite different for many reasons, including learning to deal with the perks of being a champion. Benefits like having a bulls-eye right square on his back and knowing that everyone is vying to take his spot.
It's just a way of life, and if you can ask anyone who wears the pinstripes for the New York Yankees, suits up in Carolina Blue, or dons the silver helmets with the big blue star in the center, they'd all say the same thing: They wouldn't have it any other way. Three-time and defending World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz wouldn't, either.
After three straight Outlaw titles, three triumphs in Sprint car racing's premiere event, the Knoxville Nationals, and more than 60 WoO triumphs in the last three seasons, the target on his back continues to grow as the competition gets tougher each week. Schatz, who is in his second season driving for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), has maintained his position on top of the standings this season and will resume his assault on a fourth title with three races this week. He'll be back behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J for races at 34 Raceway in Burlington, Iowa, Charter Raceway Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., and at Cedar Lake Speedway in Somerset, Wis.
The 31-year-old North Dakota resident is coming off a tough night of action at the Eagle (Neb.) Nationals last weekend but can't wait to begin the rigorous stretch of races that will see him in action 12 times in the next three weeks. His patented summer surges have bolstered his title hopes the last three seasons and also have primed the team to succeed in the sport's richest events.
Wednesday's visit to 34 Raceway will be the second time Schatz has competed at the 3/8-mile dirt oval located near the eastern Iowa border. Last season, Schatz raced from the 11th starting position and finished seventh in the 35-lap feature event. He would like to make 34 Raceway the 50th different track where he's won a WoO event during his 13-year career racing with the Outlaws.
Saturday's venue, Charter Raceway Park, is already on his hit list as Schatz took a flag-to-flag victory at the 1/3-mile high-banked oval in July 2002. He's made 14 WoO starts at the track and continued his top-10 finishes streak to six races last August when he charged from the 10th starting position to come home fifth. The finish was a bit remarkable as, earlier in the evening, Schatz was involved in a collision with Jac Haudenschild during the Crane Cams Dash that saw the Armor All sprinter end up damaged.
On Sunday, Schatz will return to Cedar Lake Speedway as the defending event champion after leading the final 20 laps of the 30-lap "A" feature last June. The victory was his fifth career feature race win at the 3/8-mile dirt oval, but his first Outlaw-sanctioned triumph at the track.
Schatz and the Armor All team have completed 33 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 4,581 points.
Wednesday at 34 Raceway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT., and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the race can be purchased by calling 34 Raceway at (319) 752-3434. For more information on the event, visit www.slspromotions.com.
Saturday at Charter Raceway Park, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT., and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the race can be purchased by calling Charter Raceway Park at (920) 887-1600. For more information on the event, visit www.slspromotions.com.
Sunday at Cedar Lake Speedway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT., and the grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the race can be purchased by calling Cedar Lake Speedway at (612) 363-0479. For more information on the event, visit www.cedarlakespeedway.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:
Wednesday's race will be the second-ever stop at Burlington. What are your thoughts on that track, and going to places where you haven't been before?
"It's really important to the future of this series that we can continue to put on a good show. We need the fans that we have, but also need to get new people interested in our sport. When you go to new places, it's really important to leave a lasting impression. We had a really good crowd at Burlington last year and I hope we have an even better turnout this year. They have a nice track there and we'd like to get the track worked in so that we can have two lanes of racing going and have a race that everyone will remember."
Charter Raceway Park and Cedar Lake Speedway usually have a strong contingent of cars. Is it tougher on you and the rest of the Outlaw guys when there are a number of competitors that you don't race with regularly in the field?
"We enjoy racing all across the country and getting the chance to show up at a track where the locals get to compete with us. That's how this series became what it is today. You race locally and then try to work your way up so that you can travel the country and follow the World of Outlaws. I think it's a big positive to see close to 40 cars at our events. The fans want to see their guys go out and beat us. Both Charter and Cedar Lake are good tracks for racing, where anything can happen.
"As a competitor, you always want to beat the best guys that you can to win races. Some of those guys have a real good read on what those tracks will do and that may give them an advantage. We thrive on competition and it's fun to get to race with other racers. The only thing that makes it a bit tougher would be knowing a driver's tendencies. The Outlaw guys have a pretty good idea on what the Outlaw drivers will do --say, in lapped traffic. Whereas, the guys we don't race with, we really don't always know for sure. Again, that's all part of the deal."
The summer heat is coming. The schedule is picking up and this is usually the time your team really gains steam. Do you feel you are ready to go on another roll?
"Yes, I do. We work very hard early in the year trying to find ways to make this Armor All car go faster. You always want to be at your best when the biggest races are coming up. These guys (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) have been through the wars and know that now is the time for us to build some momentum. We want to stack together some wins and charge into the 'Month of Money' with purpose. Winning is our only focus right now, and we're going to do everything we can to get our share and, hopefully, more in the coming weeks.
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.