HISTORY IN THE MAKING Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Returns Home Following Fourth Knoxville Nationals Crown in Search of Outlaw Win No. 100 INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 19, 2009) -- When an athlete is on top, there's not much looking around and ...
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Returns Home Following Fourth Knoxville Nationals Crown in Search of Outlaw Win No. 100
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 19, 2009) -- When an athlete is on top, there's not much looking around and realizing just what has been accomplished. There's no time to rest as the competition continues to try to take the top spot away. True champions get greedy and do whatever it takes to stay on top as long as possible. Reigning World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz is doing his best to keep the best Sprint car drivers in the world chasing him to checkered flags as he continues to add chapters to the story of a North Dakota kid realizing his potential and making it to the top in big-time Sprint car racing.
On Sunday night, the Schatz Express kept rolling as he picked up his fourth consecutive Knoxville Nationals title and built more ammunition for his run at a fourth straight WoO title, which continues this weekend. The 32-year-old Minot, N.D., native who now calls Fargo home returns to his homeland to kick off the Outlaws' annual late-summer Gold Rush Tour. First comes a return visit to River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks on Friday night, and will be followed by the Outlaws' second-ever appearance to Dacotah Speedway in Mandan.
As if Schatz's thrilling run from sixth to first last Sunday for his fourth straight Nationals crown and a cool $150,000 payday wasn't enough, the driver of the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J is eyeing another milestone as he tries to become only the fifth Sprint car driver ever to reach the 100-win mark in WoO competition. Schatz picked up his 99th career World of Outlaws "A" feature win at K-C Raceway in Waverly, Ohio, on Aug. 1.
Wins are what drive Schatz and his Armor All team. In his first season driving for TSR last year, Schatz raced to his third consecutive WoO title, in large part, because of his 17 WoO "A" feature wins and 16 second-place finishes. This season, the number of WoO wins is up to 11 to go along with nine runner-up finishes. An uncharacteristic number of DNF's has allowed a couple of drivers to stay within striking distance, but history has proven that a Nationals triumph is the kind of boost that might allow Schatz to stack more wins and put some distance between himself and the competition.
On Friday night, Schatz returns to action at River Cities, where he'll look to continue a two-race winning streak. In June 2008, he charged from 11th to win his first WoO feature at the track. This past June, he overtook Sprint car legend Steve Kinser early in the "A" feature and was nearly knocked out of the race by a lapped car midway through the 40-lap race. A yellow flag allowed Schatz to regain his position in front, and he led the rest of the way to pick up the win. Friday night will mark the fourth time the Outlaws race at the high-banked, 3/10-mile dirt oval. To go along with his two victories, Schatz also has a third-place finish and has twice been the fastest car in qualifications.
The Outlaws made their debut at Dacotah last August and Schatz is hoping to have slightly better results at the 3/8-mile dirt oval. Last season, he was the second-fastest qualifier, won the second heat, finished third in the Crane Cams Dash and came home fourth in the feature. It was a consistent evening, but not what the three-time and defending series champion was looking for.
Schatz and the TSR Armor All team have completed 48 nights of racing with the Outlaws in 2009, and their results include 11 victories, 31 top-five finishes and 38 top-10s. Schatz leads the WoO Sprint Series championship standings with 6,495 points.
For both Friday at River Cities and Saturday at Dacotah, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for both facilities can be purchased by calling SLS Promotions at (815) 344-2023. For more information on the River Cities event, visit www.rivercities.com. For more information on the Dacotah event, visit www.dacotahspeedway.net.
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:
Your domination of Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway continued last Sunday with another Nationals triumph. Is there any way to keep that momentum going as you continue your WoO campaign?
"I'd like to say yes, but the last two years we haven't had a real stellar performance right after winning the Nationals. When I won my first one back in 2006, we went to Black Hills Speedway in South Dakota and won, so it is possible. Two years ago, we had some bad luck in Minot and ended up with a DNF. Last year, we finished 10th in Fargo, so we'd like to see if we can match that 2006 effort this Friday in Grand Forks.
"I can tell you that, no matter what happens, we'll have one of the best racecars at the track. Last week's win at Knoxville was a total team effort. It takes so much to put a fast racecar on the track every time, that you have to do at the Nationals, and my crew (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman) did that. It goes beyond last week, though. We had a great opportunity with STP to run a special Mario Andretti-themed car and that meant extra work for them. They all dug in deep when our schedule was testing them the most, both physically and mentally. I really feel like last week's win will truly benefit all of us the rest of the way."
In years past, the Outlaws' only stop in North Dakota was Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo. Now there are four different tracks and five stops on the WoO schedule in your home state. That has to be exciting for you.
"It really is something special to be able to come home and race. I grew up going to the multiple-day Outlaw show in Fargo and it was the highlight of my summer. A couple years ago, we got a race in Minot, and then last year, they came to Grand Forks and Mandan. It shows that there are a lot of great fans up here and they love Sprint car racing. The races at Grand Forks, Fargo and Minot were really good in June and, hopefully, we'll have a couple more good ones this weekend. It'd be nice to keep all four of these tracks on the schedule for years to come."
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.