POISED TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Kicks Off Sprint Car Racing's Richest Month By Chasing $50,000 Ollie's Challenge Bonus and $50,000 Kings Royal at Eldora INDIANAPOLIS (July 7, 2008) - Winning as many races as...
POISED TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Kicks Off Sprint Car Racing's Richest Month By Chasing $50,000 Ollie's Challenge Bonus and $50,000 Kings Royal at Eldora
INDIANAPOLIS (July 7, 2008) - Winning as many races as he can has been the mantra of two-time defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz for the past three seasons. Each victory has significant importance. But every summer, Sprint car racing's best drivers have the opportunity to not only chase victories, but also big money.
This week, Schatz will kick off his pursuit of an even more lucrative four weeks of action than he had in 2007, when he became the first driver to win the Kings Royal ($50,000), Don Martin Silver Cup ($30,000), Williams Grove Summer Nationals ($20,000) and the Knoxville Nationals ($150,000) all in the same season.
"This is the time to be at your best, no doubt, and we love the challenge of trying to get better," said Schatz, who is in his first season behind the wheel of Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J. "We race to win every night, but when you've got the opportunity to win races that will dramatically impact your season, you certainly don't want to come up short in those."
An added twist to this year's "Month of Money" is providing the 30-year-old Fargo, N.D., resident the opportunity to add a $50,000 bonus to his bankroll thanks to the Ollie's Outlet 360 Challenge. Schatz was one of the nearly 50 drivers, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Dave Blaney, who competed in the first leg of the three-race challenge at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, on June 17. The second event will be held Tuesday night at Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and the final race is scheduled for August 17 at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
The Ollie's Outlet 360 Challenge events pay an attractive $6,000-to-win purse for each of the three races, but also include a $50,000 bonus to any driver who can win two of the three races. By winning the opening round last month, Schatz became the only driver eligible for the bonus in Tuesday's race. A WoO scheduling conflict with the Williams Grove event means the Eldora race will be his only shot at the bonus.
"We knew going in that we were likely only going to be able to race the first two, so that's why the race at Sharon was so important for us," said Schatz, who has picked up 64 feature-event wins on U.S. soil since the beginning of the 2006 season. "I know everyone will be out to stop us from winning the race and not getting that bonus. And that's just how we like it."
Putting yourself in a position to succeed in Sprint car racing's bigger races can sometimes be the hardest part. The Kings Royal format usually includes a large heat race inversion and the incentive of winning the heat to start up front in the feature event. So qualifying in the right spot is crucial. The Knoxville Nationals annually offer the largest field of cars battling for one of 24 starting sports through two nights of preliminary action.
Tuesday's Ollie's Outlet 360 Challenge event will offer its own brand of difficulty as drivers will draw for heat race starting positions and then receive passing and finishing points. After all the heat races have been completed, the points will be tallied, and then feature lineups will be made from there. The only thing a driver can do is move as many spots forward as he can and hope that the points work out.
In Sharon, Schatz started sixth in the first heat race and stormed to victory, earning him the most points overall. A random draw for the first eight positions followed, and Schatz started the TSR No. 15 Armor All, Chevy, ParkerStore J&J third in the 30-lap feature event. After an early battle for the lead with Bryan Howland, Schatz took command on a lap 11 restart and went on to win his first 360 Sprint car race since he claimed the WISSOTA championship in 1996.
"We know Tuesday is a great opportunity for Tony Stewart Racing and all of people involved with this team," said Schatz, who currently leads the WoO point standings. "It's another chance for us to work closely with Tony and give it everything we have to try and win the race. The format is different than what we do most of the time, but no one ever said that winning $50,000 was supposed to be easy. We're really looking forward to the challenge."
Tuesday's race is the start of a busy week for Schatz, who scored his 13th win of the season Saturday night at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Ark. On Wednesday, Schatz will compete in the 20th Annual Brad Doty Classic at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio, before returning to Eldora Speedway for the annual Knight Before the Kings Royal WoO event.
The 2007 Kings Royal champion will be one of 13 previous winners of the race who will participate in the "Salute to the Kings" reunion Saturday afternoon before he chases another $50,000 in the silver anniversary Kings Royal later in the evening.
"This is a great time of the year and I feel honored to be able to say I won the Kings Royal," said Schatz, who has made the field in the last 12 Kings Royal events. "Some of the guys who have won it were heroes of mine, and now I'm lucky enough to have something in common with them."
To keep up with the latest news and information about Schatz, visit www.donnyschatz.com or www.tonystewartracing.com.