OPENING DAY...SORT OF Two-Time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz Returns to Action In Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter At I-55 Raceway INDIANAPOLIS (April 1, 2008) -- It's been a long month of waiting for defending Advance Auto...
OPENING DAY...SORT OF
Two-Time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz Returns to Action In Tony Stewart Racing's Armor All Sprinter At I-55 Raceway
INDIANAPOLIS (April 1, 2008) -- It's been a long month of waiting for defending Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) champion Donny Schatz. The good news is that the wait is almost over for the driver of the No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/Parker J&J for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), as he returns to action Saturday night at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., just south of the city that's famous for baseball.
The sports fans of St. Louis are in for an exciting week as their Cardinals host opening day festivities to begin the 2008 season Tuesday evening. To end the week, the area will play host to the world's best Sprint car drivers when they compete at the high-banked 1/3-mile dirt oval that is co-owned by NASCAR racer Kenny Schrader.
While Major League Baseball teams held their spring training in Florida and Arizona during the past six weeks, Schatz followed suit, competing in both areas to kick off his 12th WoO season with races near Daytona Beach, Fla., in early February and the Cactus Classic in Phoenix on March 1. Saturday's race will end a four-week race drought for Schatz.
With four WoO events in the books to date, Schatz has shown the consistency that has helped him win back-to-back WoO titles. He has three second-place finishes and a charge from 24th to eighth in the other. Those finishes rank him third overall, 23 points behind WoO series leader Craig Dollansky in the championship standings with 70 nights of racing still remaining.
It's the same position the Fargo, N.D., racer was in during the 2006 WoO campaign after four events -- third in the standings with a couple of runner-up finishes and looking for his first WoO triumph of the season. In his fifth night of action that year, he picked up the first of his 17 WoO "A" feature victories. Just over three weeks later, on April 1, Schatz led all 40 laps for his first career win at I-55 that completed a weekend sweep and cemented the 1997 WoO Rookie of the Year honors as a driver who would be in the championship hunt the remainder of the 2006 season.
Schatz, who will be looking to capture his 71st career WoO victory when he hits the track in the TSR No. 15 Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J this weekend, has raced at the high-banked 1/3-mile oval on 21 occasions during his 11-year WoO career. He has nine top-five finishes in his last 13 starts at the track, including five in a row. He finished second in his most recent visit to the track when he was part of a thrilling race that aired nationally on ESPN2 in July 2007.
Schatz and his TSR teammate, Kraig Kinser, are the last two drivers to win April events at I-55. Kinser, who will drive the TSR No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/J.D. Byrider entry, led the final 35 laps of the 40-lap feature in Pevely on April 2, 2005, and also won the previous night at Batesville Speedway, just as Schatz did one year later. Kinser's crew chief, Jimmy Carr, helped Danny Lasoski win a WoO feature at I-55 for TSR in August 2004.
The Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event at I-55 Raceway, which is located in Pevely off of U.S. 61/67, begins 31 consecutive weekends of action for the traveling Sprint car circuit.
Pit gates open at noon CDT Saturday. Grandstand gates open at 3 p.m., and hot laps are tentatively scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m.
Race tickets can be purchased by calling (636) 479-3219 or by visiting the track's Web site, www.i55raceway.com.
Race fans can also listen to all the action from the weekend on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Visit www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other fans listening to the action.
Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
It's been a while since you've been on the track. Do you expect anything different when the WoO Series returns to action?
"Everyone is ready to get racing. Most of the guys who compete with the Outlaws know what it takes and that you can't make a season in one night. It looks like a lot of the teams have been racing a little bit here and there since Phoenix, so I don't expect anything out of the ordinary. We're looking forward to getting back into a regular routine -- well, as regular as racing every weekend for the next seven months can be. We're going to test this week and that will get both of the TSR teams prepared for Saturday night and beyond."
Talk about racing at I-55 Raceway. It's been labeled as one of the most exciting places to see a World of Outlaws race. Would you agree?
"I can certainly agree with that statement, because it's pretty exciting sitting in my seat there. You've really got to be on your game at Pevely. It's fast. It's small. The corners can be tight. It could lay rubber around the top, around the bottom. Slick off to a big cushion. You just never know. It's a long race, so anything can happen and you've got to be your best at the end of the race. Teamwork is going to be key as we go through the night. Ray Marler and all the people down there do a great job of trying to give us a good racing surface so we can put on a good show. I think in last summer's race there, we almost got going four-wide for the lead and that's tough to do on a tight track like that. We usually have a lot of cars come out because it's early in the season, so that adds to it all."
Your team's consistency continues to be strong, but you've said winning races is still your number one priority. Is that still the case?
"I've learned a lot over the last 11 years out here on the road with the Outlaws. Experience is a big reason you see guys win championships. Steve Kinser knows what's important. Sammy Swindell, Mark Kinser, Dave Blaney, and Bobby Davis -- those guys won championships by winning races. We've set some pretty high goals for the year and the first one again is to be the team that wins the most feature events. We've had four races so far. One guy has two wins, and two other guys have one. We led some laps in Florida and Phoenix and felt like we let a couple wins get away. We know getting the first one is the only thing that matters right now. My guys have been taking advantage of this time we've had off, getting us ready to be at our best not only Saturday, but all season long. The nice thing is that we've been in this position before, and we know there's a long way to go."
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.