Big Outlaw Weekend Ahead for Donny Schatz
INDIANAPOLIS (May 24, 2016) – Throughout his career with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series, Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz has found a way to shine when the lights are the brightest. The seven-time and reigning WoO champion has racked up marquee wins over the last 20 years at the best dirt-track facilities in the world, and he’ll look to continue that tradition during a weekend when racing takes center stage in the sporting world.
Schatz and his TSR Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team will compete in both North Carolina and Indiana over the Memorial Day weekend looking to maintain momentum they built with a pair of wins in the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J last weekend in Pennsylvania and New York. First up is their annual May visit to The Dirt Track at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Friday’s Circle K Outlaw Showdown, then it’s back to Indiana for the Outlaws’ Memorial Day race at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.
The 2016 WoO campaign is the 20th season of competition for Schatz with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” and he continues to pile up the wins. He enters Tuesday night’s Jersey Outlaw Classic at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway with seven triumphs this season to push his career total to 211 – including 87 since the beginning of the 2013 season. He returns to The Dirt Track as the defending Outlaw Showdown winner. The Fargo, North Dakota racer took the lead from Kraig Kinser on lap 12 of the 30-lap A-Feature last May and raced away to his eighth career victory at the 4/10-mile dirt oval. That triumph was one of his career-best 31 victories last season and added to his record number of wins at the facility.
Schatz has been fast at the high-speed dirt oval since Bruton Smith opened the track during Coca-Cola 600 weekend in 2000. A top-four finish in the Outlaws’ debut at the track and a flag-to-flag triumph under the bright lights in his third appearance later that fall cemented his feelings for the track. He scored his first official WoO A-Feature in thrilling style, charging from 10th through a heavy cushion in the Outlaw Showdown in May 2007. He closed his first season driving for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart with an exclamation point by racing to his third victory at The Dirt Track in the season finale and, shortly thereafter, lifted the WoO championship hardware in front of capacity crowd of more than 14,000 fans. His second Memorial Day weekend triumph at The Dirt Track came in 2010 when he led 29 of the 30 laps. He secured wins five and six by sweeping the 2011 World Finals, then won the World Finals opener in 2013.
Following Friday’s race in Charlotte, the TSR team will return to their Brownsburg, Indiana shop and prepare for the Memorial Day race at Lawrenceburg where, in three of the last six WoO visits to high-banked, 3/8-mile dirt oval, the team concluded race night in victory lane. Schatz won his first feature at the track in June 2009 before winning Memorial Day races in 2013 and 2014. Last season’s race was washed out on Memorial Day and contested in October, when Schatz charged from 12th to finish third.
The two wins last week came in impressive fashion for Schatz and the Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team. First, it was a 35-lap nonstop victory in the Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania last Thursday. Schatz set a track record for a 35-lap race – nine minutes, 43.04 seconds – and gave the Outlaws a victory over the “Pennsylvania Posse.” It was his first career triumph at the track, which became the 76th different track where’s scored a victory, and his 24th career triumph in the state of Pennsylvania. He followed that victory up with his second consecutive win at Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway by charging from ninth and overtaking Logan Schuchart on lap 31 of the 35-lap A-Feature.
Through 28 races, Schatz leads the series with seven wins and 26 top-10s. He ranks second in the WoO championship standings with 3,846 points and trails leader Brad Sweet by 39 markers with more than 60 races remaining.
For Friday’s race at The Dirt Track, the pit gates open at 1 p.m. EDT and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 704-455-3275.
Monday at Lawrenceburg Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT and the grandstands at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit lawrenceburgspeedway.com or call 812-539-4700.
Race fans unable to attend this week’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen free as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information.
Last week, you and your Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team ended an 11-race winless streak and earned three podium finishes. What did those weekend results do for your team heading into this week’s action?
“We all are out here to win. I said after the race at Weedsport that my guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, and Brad Mariscotti – are the best in the business and that I have all the faith in them. Tony (Stewart) assembled a great group here and yes, we’ve had a challenging beginning to the year. We’ve continued to work hard to get everything exactly where we want it to be. We aren’t there, but we are learning some things. It might be a deal where we take one step forward in one area, but then feel like we lose it in another area. Winning is the result of hard work. And these guys work incredibly hard. I’m fortunate to be driving for these guys and we’re just going to keep working at it. This is a fun week and I’m looking forward to continuing our progress.”
There are a number of tracks where you’ve been extremely successful during your World of Outlaws career, including The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Is there a secret to your success there?
“Believe me, there are no secrets in racing, that’s for sure. I’ve had some good runs there over the years, but also had some night’s I’d like to forget. The biggest thing is being surrounded by a good team. We work hard to have a fast car no matter where we go and, fortunately, we’ve been good at Charlotte most nights. It’s a fun place to be. The atmosphere with all of the NASCAR fans around for the Coca-Cola 600 gives the place a unique energy and it’s fun for us as teams to have our peers in the sport coming out and watching us race. I know Tony loves being able to be here with us and then to have a lot of his people from Stewart-Haas Racing out is a big deal, as well. The track is fast. You have to be able to move around. Find a way to get out of turn two better than the other guys. And ultimately have a good car at the end.”
The Memorial Weekend closes each year with your race at Lawrenceburg. It’s the end of a tough part of your schedule. How do you approach that race?
“I know, for me, it’s nice to get to work on Memorial Day. Our schedule takes us from Charlotte on Friday night to Indiana for a Monday race. It’s back to home for Saturday and Sunday and my guys get to sleep in their own beds for a couple of days. That’s a big deal. Everyone can be at home and watch the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600. We make this 10-day run through Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and then to North Carolina and it can be tough on everyone. Those two days to recharge are big, because it’s a time of the year when we really want to build momentum. That Monday-night race at Lawrenceburg can be one that helps push you into June and keep things rolling.”
Contact Bill Klingbeil with True Speed Communication