UP TO THE CHALLENGE Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Leads the World of Outlaws Back to Missouri and Knoxville in the Armor All J&J INDIANAPOLIS (June 24, 2009) -- For three-time and defending World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz,...
UP TO THE CHALLENGE
Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz Leads the World of Outlaws Back to Missouri and Knoxville in the Armor All J&J
INDIANAPOLIS (June 24, 2009) -- For three-time and defending World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz, every weekend presents a new challenge as he follows the 2009 WoO campaign from dirt track to dirt track. The challenge this weekend is two-fold as the driver of the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J first must master the high banks of U.S. 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo., on Friday night, before returning to the famed Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway for the final time prior to this year's 49th annual Knoxville Nationals.
Friday's Missouri High-Banked Nationals at U.S. 36 Raceway is an opportunity for Schatz to improve on his previous results at one of only three Outlaw tracks on this year's schedule where the lap record is less than 10 seconds. Speed is the name of the game around the 3/8-mile dirt oval, and the driver's response rate can make all the difference. When he made his debut at the track in May 2006, Schatz continued to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was involved in four separate on-track incidents before ultimately being credited with a 23rd-place finish. The following year, his results improved as he paced the field in qualifying and finished fifth in the feature race.
There isn't a track where, during the last four years, Schatz has been more successful than Knoxville Raceway. Schatz has won eight of the last 12 feature events he's started there. The illustrious list of wins includes three consecutive Knoxville Nationals, and he currently is on a two-race winning streak at the half-mile track following his Outlaw feature triumph on May 2. It wasn't always this easy for Schatz at Knoxville. His first race at the track came in July 1994 and he amassed six second-place finishes before he won his first career feature at the track in August 2001. Four second-place finishes in the Nationals during a five-year run finally ended with his 2006 triumph. Last season, in the Outlaws' June visit, Schatz finished second in the opener and won the Saturday-night finale.
Schatz termed last weekend's three-night Duel in the Dakotas in his home state a success. The 31-year-old won Friday night at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks to collect his 96th career WoO "A" Feature win. He followed that with two more top-five finishes in Fargo and Minot, respectively.
Schatz and the Armor All team have completed 30 of the Outlaws' scheduled 84 nights of racing for 2009. The results include eight victories, 18 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. Schatz continues to lead the WoO Sprint Series championship standings with 4,179 points.
On Friday at U.S. 36 Raceway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT., and the grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact SLS Promotions at (815) 344-2023, or visit the track's official Web site, www.us36raceway.com.
On Saturday at Knoxville Raceway, the pit gates open at 4 p.m. CDT., and the grandstands will open at 6 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. For more details, contact Knoxville Raceway at (641) 842-5431, or visit the track's official Web site, knoxvilleraceway.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 only a few tracks on the Outlaws schedule where you haven't had the kind of success you expect. Why is U.S. 36 Raceway on that list?
"It's probably because we've only raced there twice and, the first time, we nearly cleaned out a trailer-full of parts. We ran decent there in 2007, so I probably wouldn't say it's on our 'list' of tracks where we haven't had success. A top-five after what happened the year before was welcomed by everyone involved.
"It's just a fast little place. The second night we raced there, we were the fastest qualifier and just had a tough time moving forward in the feature. The track's degree of banking kind of plays havoc on you when you are going through the middle of the corners. There's almost a blind spot, so you have to make your moves whenever you can to get to the front. Trouble is just the next corner away. Every lap counts there, and it's pretty demanding on the drivers.
"It's going to be hot this week, so hopefully the track will slick off and we can have some great Winged Sprint Car action for all the fans down there."
Seeing Knoxville on your upcoming race schedule has to get you excited, based on your success there the past three years. How do you continue your winning ways at the track where everyone wants to win?
"The same formula that worked there the past three years rings true today. You've got to get your car rolling around there better than anyone else. I've been fortunate to have a solid program that's been together for quite some time. We've raced J&J cars with Shaver Motors and have had guys like Rick Warner and Shane Bowers working on it.
"'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,' is the mantra we kind of follow at Knoxville. Don't get me wrong -- there have been a lot of things that have changed during the past three years, so we have to continue to tweak our program. That's what these races in May and June are for. There's only one Knoxville Nationals and you have to be at your best. We've been able to win Outlaw races early in the year and then follow it up in August at the Nationals.
"In May, we were in the middle of one the longest victory draughts we've had in a while. We show up at Knoxville and are the fastest qualifier and win the feature race. It's a huge confidence-builder to know you can come into to a place like Knoxville and get back on top of your game. Hopefully, we'll be able to be in a position to challenge for a win there again this weekend and, obviously, we're shooting for that in August, too."
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.