Most everyone in the Sprint car racing world is experiencing a Knoxville Nationals hangover this week. The biggest race of the year has come and gone and, for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and his Arctic Cat/Ford Performance backed team, there isn’t time to sit around and try to recover from another epic performance. Schatz returns home for a three-race weekend in North Dakota with an eye on making a move in his quest for a ninth World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship.
The driver of the TSR No. No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/ Curb J&J will lead the band of Outlaws back into action starting with Friday’s return to River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks where he’ll look to regain his post at the quarter-mile, high-banked dirt oval. Schatz followed David Gravel and Kerry Madsen to the finish line back in June, a result that snapped a four-race winning streak at the track. The weekend continues Saturday with the Outlaws first race at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo since 2012, an event originally scheduled for June that was postponed because of rain. And Sunday, it’s back to his hometown of Minot and Nodak Speedway where Schatz has come home victorious the previous five times the Outlaws have circled the 3/8-mile, dirt oval.
The season is down to a 30-race push with events at 22 tracks in 13 states over the next 10 weeks. Schatz currently leads the 2017 WoO championship standings by 82 points over Brad Sweet. Schatz and his Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti will be looking to carry momentum from last week’s victory in the 57th annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals. The victory was his 10th in Sprint car racing’s premiere event and continues his July “Month of Money” success this season, during which he also won his fourth career Kings Royal at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and his sixth Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania.
Schatz made his first WoO start in the state of North Dakota six weeks prior to his 16th birthday in 1993. He’s made a lot of circles both in his home state and around the United States and Australia since that first race. He scored the first of now 18 career WoO A-Feature wins in North Dakota at Red River Valley Speedway in July 2002 and would love to bring that total to 21 by Sunday night.
In addition to driving the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance J&J, Schatz will race his family owned No. 15 Petro Stopping Center/Schatz Crossroads/Fastlane Car Wash Dirt Late Model at both River Cities and Red River Valley. In August 2015, Schatz swept both the WoO race and NLRA Late Model main events at River Cities.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: NORTH DAKOTA
• Donny Schatz made his World of Outlaws debut in July 1993 at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, North Dakota.
• Schatz has 37 career WoO starts at Red River Valley Speedway, 18 of which were classified as preliminary features.
• He has four career WoO wins at Red River Valley: two WoO A-Features in 2002 and 2006, and two preliminary features in 2003 and 2006. Schatz also has won a pair of Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions events at the track (2011 and 2012). Both of those wins came on the reconfigured, 3/8-mille dirt oval.
• Since the Outlaws first competed at River Cities Speedway in June 2007, Schatz has been one of the drivers to beat around the high-banked, quarter-mile dirt oval. He has competed in all 20 WoO races contested on the ultra-fast short track, the record lap at which is 9.269 seconds and annually has some of the most exciting races of the WoO season.
• Schatz has won eight WoO A-Features at River Cities, including four of the previous five 40-lap A-Features and six of the last nine, and has finished in the top three in 12 of his last 13 starts there.
• In 2007, he made contact with Daryn Pittman battling for the lead early in the race and suffered his only DNF (Did Not Finish) in 10 career WoO starts at Nodak.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: 2017
• Through 59 of 92 scheduled races in the 2017 WoO campaign, Schatz leads the championship standings with 7,690 markers and holds an 82-point advantage over Brad Sweet.
• Schatz leads the series with 16 wins and 43 top-five finishes. His 49 top-10s are tied with Sweet for the series high.
• This is his 21st season of competing with the World of Outlaws and he has competed in at least one WoO event in North Dakota every year.
• With 30 races remaining on the 2017 schedule, Schatz will venture to 22 tracks between now and the first week of November. He has previously won WoO races at 20 of those tracks, including 2017 wins at Eldora and Lernerville.
At all three events this weekend, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT, the grandstands open at 4 p.m., and hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information at River Cities, visitwww.rivercitiesspeedway.com or call (218) 773-3001. For tickets and more information at Red River Valley, visit redrivervalleyspeedway.com or call (701) 388-6637. For tickets and more information at Nodak, visit racenodak.com or call (701) 838-6464.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live audio coverage is available 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. Visit to DIRTVision.com for more information.
Fans are encouraged to follow the progress of Schatz, TSR and the No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J throughout the campaign on the Web and social media. More information can be found at www.TonyStewartRacing.com, www.arcticcat.com, and www.donnyschatzmotorsports.com
Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at www.Facebook.com/
Arctic Cat: Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArcticCat or on Twitter and Instagram @ArcticCat_atv @ArcticCat_Snow
Curb: Facebook at www.facebook.com/CurbRecords or on Twitter and Instagram @CurbRecords.
Ford Performance: Facebook at www.facebook.com/
|Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance J&J:|
You’re coming off another Knoxville Nationals win to continue your remarkable run of success in Sprint car racing’s biggest event. What’s the biggest key to have the consistency you and your team have had there the past decade and a half?
“I don’t think anyone is ever going to give away his key to success, but being around great people has always been a big thing in the racing world. It’s definitely that way at TSR. I’ve been there 10 years and my team has been with me that long too. They are very consistent at what they do. They understand that just because you win a race today, it doesn’t mean that winning a race tomorrow is a given. They know you have to work at it and you may have to go about it in a little different way than you did yesterday. That’s a big thing to get four guys to pull the rope in the same direction, to work together and understand you are not always going to agree on everything. It takes four people and the direction to get to the same place isn’t always down the same path. Those guys do a phenomenal job of adapting to what needs to be done. That’s a really big thing and something that has shined at Knoxville. Hopefully, it shines in championship form the rest of the season.”
This weekend, you return home for three races in your home state. What are you looking forward to and what should the fans who are coming out be ready to see?
“We are going to see some great racing and a truly unique opportunity. It’s probably going to be one of the busiest weekends of the year for me, coming home and getting the chance to race in front of family and friends. We’re coming off an incredible week in Iowa and excited to get back in the car. The weekend starts with two races Friday and Saturday just an hour apart. River Cities Speedway is one of the most exciting tracks we get to go to throughout the year. A lot of the other World of Outlaws competitors talk about how much they love racing there. I love it. You just never know how things are going to turn out in the race up there and that’s one of the reasons the fans just pack that place. I’m excited the Outlaws are coming back to Fargo on Saturday. It’s been a few years and, unfortunately, we had a problem with the rain in June and I’m excited that we get the chance to come back. To cap it off, we go back to my hometown and a place where I first witnessed racing in Minot. We’ve definitely had a good run of success there the past six years and we’re hoping we can continue that. It’s going to be a great weekend in North Dakota and the fans are going to get to see a great following. I know my guys are chomping at the bit to do some racing after the Nationals and now it’s time to race for a World of Outlaws championship. So, we’re going to work our tails off this weekend and hopefully put on a good show for the fans.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!