NUMBERS CRUNCHING Top Finishes the Focus for Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz As World of Outlaws Series Returns to Texas INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 20, 2009) -- He's made it clear all along. The only thing that matters right now is winning races.
Top Finishes the Focus for Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz As World of Outlaws Series Returns to Texas
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 20, 2009) -- He's made it clear all along. The only thing that matters right now is winning races. That's what has driven three-time and defending World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint car series champion Donny Schatz through another campaign with "The Greatest Show on Dirt." Consistency throughout the 10-month schedule has once again positioned the driver of Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J in the thick of the WoO title chase with only three race nights remaining on the schedule. The first of those takes place Saturday night as Schatz and his fellow Outlaw racers return to Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas.
With the season nearing its conclusion, much of the attention has turned to the closest title chase in the WoO's 31-year history. While NASCAR and the NHRA have altered their championship formats by creating a playoff-type system to heighten the drama for the final races, the Outlaws find themselves with a title fight that will be decided on the final night of the season Nov. 7 at the World Finals near Charlotte without having changed a thing. Schatz sits atop the standings but is separated by only 57 points from Jason Meyers and Joey Saldana entering this weekend's WoO Fest at Lone Star.
Even though he's constantly barraged with questions about his pursuit of a fourth consecutive Outlaw title, Schatz remains committed to concerning himself only with the race ahead. That strategy has worked in the past for the 32-year-old Fargo, N.D., resident, and the good news for Schatz is that his recent results at the final two race venues include three second-place finishes and a victory.
Schatz will be making his fourth career appearance at Lone Star Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval located in east central Texas. He has been a strong contender each time, including his first visit in October 2003. That night, he led the first 29 laps of the feature before finishing second to Steve Kinser. The following spring, he charged from ninth to finish fourth and, this past April, he raced the Armor All sprinter from the sixth starting position to the runner-up spot.
Schatz enters Saturday's race following a second-place finish on Oct. 10 in the New Yorker 25, which was held at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y. It was his 12th second-place finish of the season to go along with his 12 victories. During his last three championship seasons (2006-2008), he has followed up a runner-up finish with a victory 16 different times. Schatz has accomplished the feat three times already this season.
The numbers that matter most to Schatz are 13, 51 and 101 rather than 18, the margin between himself and Meyers in the 2009 WoO championship standings. Saturday offers Schatz the chance to earn his 13th WoO victory of the season. If he is successful, it would move his career WoO win total to 101, and Lone Star Speedway would become the 51st track where he's won an Outlaw "A" Feature.
Schatz and the TSR Armor All team have competed in all 62 WoO "A" Features this season. Schatz has 12 victories, a series-leading 38 top-five finishes and 51 top-10s.
For Saturday's event at Lone Star, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT and grandstands open at 6 p.m. Hot Laps are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Lone Star Speedway at (903) 986-9731, and more information is available at www.lonestarspeedway.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 last time you raced at Lone Star, you started a string of three consecutive second-place finishes. Now, heading back there, you have finished second in two of your last three races. It would seem that finishing second again isn't quite what you are looking for.
"No. We want to win. We had a really good chance up at Rolling Wheels a few weeks ago and came up short. We had a really good car for the National Open the week before that and just couldn't quite get the lead. Actually, when we raced at Lone Star this spring, we kind of just patiently worked our way into second, so we're looking for a different outcome this time.
"Wins are what make this all work. Yeah, we've had a lot of top-two finishes this year (24), but there are only three more races to win this year and we want to be right there in all of them.
"I know the Armor All crew (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) is one of the best teams out on the road and the guys have been working hard all season to put us in position to win races. We've been close to winning at Lone Star before and we're going to do everything we can on Saturday to be there at the end of the night again."
After a five-year absence, the Outlaws returned to Lone Star Speedway this spring. Are you looking forward to another visit to the track?
"Absolutely. We had a great crowd there in the spring. It just proves that there are a lot of 410 Sprint car racing fans in Texas, and we need to be racing there. The place was packed with people, and I've heard that they have continued to upgrade the facility over the summer. That's what the World of Outlaws is all about -- going to places and putting on good shows for the loyal fans we have.
"From a competitor standpoint, I'm excited about getting back on the track. It's big and fast. We've done well at places that are high-banked and tend to slick off. We went out late in qualifying this spring and set quick time and then were able to move forward in the feature. The track slicked off and, hopefully, it will do the same this week. We like racing on slick tracks where traffic becomes a factor. We have a really good package for that type of racing. Everybody at TSR is ready to head down there and give it our best shot."
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.