SEEKING THE ULTIMATE PRIZE Two-Time Defending Knoxville Nationals Champion Donny Schatz Eyes Three-Peat in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All J&J INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 5, 2008) -- The old cliche, "It's just another race" simply doesn't work when...
SEEKING THE ULTIMATE PRIZE
Two-Time Defending Knoxville Nationals Champion Donny Schatz Eyes Three-Peat in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All J&J
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 5, 2008) -- The old cliche, "It's just another race" simply doesn't work when discussing Sprint car racing's premiere event, the Knoxville Nationals. Every driver who gets behind the wheel of a 1,200-pound, 800-horsepower Sprint car dreams of winning the Nationals, held annually in August at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. For the past two years, Donny Schatz has been the man to beat. And this week, he hopes to continue leading the way behind the wheel of the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J.
The focus all season for Schatz has been winning races in the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series. The current WoO points leader has done a good job of maintaining the level of success that helped him win consecutive WoO titles the past two seasons. This year, he has won 12 times, finished in the top-five 31 nights, and he's the only driver to finish inside the top-10 in all 39 events. In each of his championship runs the past two seasons, a Knoxville Nationals triumph has highlighted his season.
This week, Schatz continues his march into the history books as he looks to become only the second driver to win three consecutive Knoxville Nationals titles. Sprint car legend Steve Kinser has won three consecutive Nationals on three occasions.
Each year, Schatz continues add his name to the events record books. The Fargo, N.D., racer is one of seven drivers to win consecutive Nationals, ranks fifth all-time in Nationals "A" Main laps led with 79, and has earned four pole positions -- second only to Kinser, who has eight. Since 1998, Schatz has finished first or second in every preliminary feature except 2005, when he started 21st and finished sixth. He won his preliminary night feature in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
On Wednesday, Schatz will look to continue his recent stranglehold on the famed half-mile track. Since April 2006, he has six victories, four second-place finishes and a fifth-place finish in 11 starts. This season, he has two wins and a second-place finish behind the wheel of the Armor All J&J.
Last August, Schatz entered the Nationals as the favorite following victories in the Kings Royal, Silver Cup and Summer Nationals. He qualified fifth, won his heat race and finished second in the preliminary feature event. Those results earned Schatz the pole position, and he led all 30 laps to pick up his second $150,000 first-place prize.
The Armor All crew is led by crew chief Ricky Warner, who helped Schatz win the past two Nationals, Shane Bowers, who also has been with Schatz the past two years, and Kyle Sundby. The crew's chemistry has been a big factor in keeping the No. 15 Chevy-powered J&J on top of the WoO standings.
The Nationals will culminate on Saturday night with the drivers battling for an A-main purse of $473,000. The total purse for Saturday's finale is $909,590. SPEED will offer live coverage of the final night of action beginning at 10 p.m. EDT.
Tickets for the Knoxville Nationals can still be purchased by calling 641-842-5431. The official Web site of Knoxville Raceway is www.knoxvilleraceway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this week's events can catch all of the action from Knoxville live each night on Hoseheadsradio.com. Go to www.knoxvilleraceway.com for more information on the event, including updated results from each night of racing.
Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
You come into Knoxville as the two-time defending champion and the guy to beat. Do you like that role?
"Absolutely. We worked a long time to reach this level and we aren't going to go down easy. This is the biggest race of the year and one we want really bad. We've won it before and after finishing second so many times, we can kind of just go do our thing. I can say we'll treat it like another night, but it's just not that simple. Everyone will be there. The stakes are at their highest, and that's when you, as a competitor, want to be your best. There are so many things that can overwhelm you, so experience is the key. Understanding how to handle it all is a big part of it. I certainly want to be the favorite and I know this Tony Stewart Racing team is the best team out here, so we should be the favorites. Now we just want to go out Wednesday night and perform like the favorites. That starts with putting down a good qualifying in the Armor All, Chevy, ParkerStore No. 15."
With this being the 15th time you've entered the Nationals, what would you say is the key to succeeding at the event?
"It starts in January. You have to have a team that is prepared so that, even after racing all summer, you can roll into Knoxville with your best stuff ready to go. My guys have done a great job over the years and we learned that being prepared is really a big factor in succeeding. The next thing I learned is that every lap is crucial. You have to qualify well. You have to go to the front in your heat race. And you have to get on the podium in your qualifying night feature to have a chance on Saturday night. When you get to Saturday, enjoy the whole day however you can. Don't keep yourself isolated, where you can over-think things. Walk around. Talk to people and that way, by the time the race finally gets going, your mind is still fresh. When the race starts, take every chance you can. This is the Knoxville Nationals and you never know what will happen next."
For complete Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series results, log on to www.worldofoutlaws.com. For information regarding TSR, Schatz, Armor All, Chevy, or ParkerStore, log on to www.tonystewartracing.com, www.donnyschatz.com, www.aa-ownercenter.com, www.chevrolet.com, or www.parkerstore.com.