KEEPING THE CROWN Tony Stewart Racing's Schatz Eyes Third Outlaws Title as Season Concludes in Charlotte INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 29, 2008) -- A champion will tell you that capturing that first title is the most difficult, and once you have it in your...
KEEPING THE CROWN
Tony Stewart Racing's Schatz Eyes Third Outlaws Title as Season Concludes in Charlotte
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 29, 2008) -- A champion will tell you that capturing that first title is the most difficult, and once you have it in your hands, you'll never want to let it go. Since winning his first Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series championship in October 2006, Donny Schatz has done everything he can to not leave Sprint Car racing's top spot. Following last year's WoO title, he joined Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), and by simply taking the green flag behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J in both feature events during this weekend's VAULT World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, he'll clinch his third straight WoO championship.
In each of the last three seasons, Schatz' first goal was to win the most races. His thought was, if he could win the most, he'd be in the perfect position to be the series champion. Two seasons ago, he won 17 "A" feature events, and last year he picked up 19 "A" feature wins. In both cases, he had the most wins, and each time was crowned champion of the Outlaws. Following last Saturday night's triumph in the "Thunder at the Heartland" event at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), Schatz has 17 "A" feature wins this year, a number that more than doubles his closest pursuer. It seems his strategy will hold true once again as he enters the weekend with a commanding 123-point lead in the 2008 title chase.
If there is one thing that still bothers the 31-year-old Fargo, N.D., resident about the 2007 season, it's that he wasn't able to win the final race of the season like he did in 2006. He'll have a chance at redemption in the World Finals when he returns for his 19th career race at the 4/10-mile dirt oval.
Schatz will hit the famous red clay on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for the World Finals, which begins Thursday with qualifying sessions for both Friday and Saturday night's full programs. Thursday night's program will also include the "Breaking the VAULT" dash, a 10-car invitational that will feature points-leader Schatz. Two complete nights of racing, including heat races, the Crane Cams Dash and feature events will be contested on both Friday and Saturday nights.
In last year's World Finals, Schatz qualified first and second for the two-night program, then finished second and fourth in the features. His career numbers at The Dirt Track consist of a pair of wins -- his last coming on May 25, 2007 -- 11 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s. In May, he came home sixth at the track.
Finishing strong has been a Schatz trademark during his 12-year WoO career. In 1999, he won three of the final five feature events, including the season finale. He also won the last feature event of the season in 2004 and 2006. Last year, he won four of the final seven feature events. With his 87th career "A" feature win in Topeka on Saturday, Schatz continued that trend. He's won three of the last five Outlaw races heading into the final two nights of action in 2008.
Schatz has led the WoO series standings since scoring a victory at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway on May 31. His Armor All-sponsored team has a current total of 8,729 points, 44 top-five finishes and 56 top-10s in 61 WoO races this season.
Both nights of the VAULT World Finals will be broadcast on SPEED-TV. Race fans can watch all of Saturday's action unfold live on SPEED beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. Friday's program will be taped for broadcast and will air on SPEED on Saturday, November 8 at 9 p.m.
For all three days of the VAULT World Finals, the pit gates will open at noon EDT, with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday and 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For race tickets and other event information, contact Lowe's Motor Speedway at (800) 455-3267. The official Web site of Lowe's Motor Speedway is www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend's VAULT World Finals can follow all of the action from The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway 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:
Winning races has been your focus all season. There are two more races left. Can you close out the season in winning fashion?
"Honestly, the best feeling is winning the last race of the year. Everybody remembers that during the offseason while they're getting ready for next year. We were pretty good last year at Charlotte, but felt like we let a win get away from us. When we came back in May, we weren't nearly competitive enough, so we're going down there with one goal in mind and that's winning two feature events.
"I'm really excited about how we ran last weekend in Topeka and I know the TSR guys (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers, Kyle Sundby) really want to build a winning streak to finish off this season. The track is really fast and we'll have plenty of Chevy horsepower pulling us around the track. We just want to have chance during the final 10 laps."
Your third championship awaits you in Charlotte. Have you had a chance to consider the accomplishment you are about to complete?
"I don't think we have officially done anything, yet. Winning races has been what we worry about and last week we got another one. That's behind us and now we'll go after (win) number 18 on Friday night. As a competitor, you really have to continue looking forward and not looking back. The wins really help motivate all of us to stay hungry and not be satisfied. I've said all along that we'll see where we are when we get to the World Finals. I know we've won the most races and no one can top us on that one this year. If we get two more, we'll match last year's total and that would be really cool.
"It's been a great first season with Tony Stewart Racing, and working with all the people at Armor All, Chevy, ParkerStore and the other TSR partners has been a lot of fun. If everything goes as planned this weekend, we'll have plenty of time to look back at what we accomplished and really enjoy ourselves starting on Sunday."
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.