BIG WEEKEND World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz Looks To Make History At Williams Grove Speedway in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 1, 2009) -- Grabbing a piece of history in any sport is difficult. Putting your...
World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz Looks To Make History At Williams Grove Speedway in Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 1, 2009) -- Grabbing a piece of history in any sport is difficult. Putting your name in the record books can sometimes be even harder. The names Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth filled the pages of baseball's record books, having given players like Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose numbers to shoot for. In Sprint car racing, Steve Kinser is the icon of the sport and is a part of nearly every record. His presence is what brought many of today's competitors into the sport, including current World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz. With his results the past few seasons, Schatz himself is beginning to add his name to several pages of Sprint car racing's book of records.
This weekend, the driver of Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J has the rare opportunity to surpass one of Kinser's records at the Williams Grove National Open. Both Schatz and Kinser have four victories in the one of the sport's crown jewels. Schatz realizes the importance of the becoming mentioned with records that Kinser has set and the historical impact it has. After winning the 2008 WoO championship, Schatz became only the driver other than Kinser to win three straight titles. In August, he became only the second driver to win four consecutive Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals. Next year, he'll try to match Kinser's record of five.
On Friday night, Schatz will return to Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The tradition-filled, half-mile dirt track has hosted some of the greatest open wheel drivers during their careers. Its unique paper-clip shape provides some of the highest speeds the Winged Sprint cars produce, but the tight corners make it a real challenge for the drivers. The other challenge for the traveling Outlaw stars is the fact that the regular drivers who compete at the track are some of the best regional racers anywhere.
During the first five years of Schatz's WoO career, the track was one of the toughest he completed at. He scored only one top-five finish in his first 18 starts.
That all changed in the fall of 2000, when he led the final 14 laps of the 39th annual Williams Grove National Open and scored his first feature win at the track. The win provided a new appreciation and understanding for the track, which resulted in three consecutive wins in 2001. He followed that with another three-race win streak at the track during the 2003 season and, in October 2004, he won his second National Open. The following season, he made it back-to-back National Open triumphs and, in 2007, he won five of the seven races he started at the track, including the National Open.
The weekend also includes the drama of the 2009 WoO championship. Schatz enters the weekend with only a nine-point advantage with eight races remaining. Three of those races will occur this weekend. The conclusion of the Summer Nationals and a complete show on Friday night that includes qualifying, heat races, a dash and 25-lap feature kick off the weekend. On Saturday night, the competitors will once again qualify, run heat races and a dash, trying to earn their starting spot in the 40-lap, $50,000-to-win National Open finale.
Schatz will have to make a charge in the first race of the weekend. He qualified to start 24th in the Summer Nationals finale in July before it was rained out, but racing from the back at Williams Grove hasn't been a problem in the past. In September 2007, he raced from 21st to finish fourth. In May 2008, he charged from 17th to finish second, and earlier this year, in May, he raced from 23rd to finish fifth.
Schatz and the TSR Armor All team completed their 59th night of action with the Outlaws this season last Friday night at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. In the 30-lap race, Schatz came from the 22nd starting position and finished sixth on a very fast racing surface. It was his 48th top-10 finish of the season to go along with 12 victories and 36 top-fives.
Saturday's 48th annual Cleveland Brothers National Open program will air live on SPEED beginning at 8 p.m. EDT.
For Friday and Saturday night's event at Williams Grove, the pit gates open at 3:30 p.m. EDT and grandstands open at 5:15 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Williams Grove Speedway at (717) 697-5000, and more information is available at www.williamsgrove.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:
There are a lot of things surrounding the weekend -- the points championship, the opportunity to win a record-breaking fifth National Open, the fact that you have to start deep in the field in the make-up Summer Nationals feature. That's a lot more than just your average World of Outlaws weekend.
"It is, but we have to approach each part of the weekend one at a time. The weekend itself is ultimately about winning races. If you can get the races won, you'll be in a pretty good position with everything else. Williams Grove has been one of my favorite places to go for the last several years and we've had great success there.
"We'd rather be starting a little closer to the front in the Summer Nationals race, but we can't change that. All we can do is hope the racetrack is something that we can move forward on. There are so many good cars that will make it tough, but I've got a lot of confidence in the Armor All guys (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman). They'll give me a great chance and that's all you can ask for."
What are your thoughts heading back to Williams Grove for the National Open?
"It's great to be going back there. Last year, we missed out on it and Mother Nature won that. We're just glad to be going back. Hopefully, Mother Nature will be a fan this weekend. Sooner or later, the weather will have to turn around at that event.
"It's a fun place to race. The racetrack gets pretty nice and that makes it fun for us. Hopefully, it gets wide enough that we have a couple of grooves and be able to move around and be able to race. We'll just have to wait and see. We just want to be able to put on a good show for the fans."
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.