For Donny Schatz, playing the role of the favorite isn’t something new. The Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver has set the standard for excellence in World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series competition over the past five seasons by capturing four of his eight career championships and 116 of his 232 career WoO A-Features wins.
And he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
After a torrid beginning to the 2017 WoO campaign – three wins in the first four races – Schatz enters the two-night FVP Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Thursday and Friday looking to continue his winning ways and remain the favorite night in and night out.
The goal is to make it four wins in a row on the season Thursday night behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J prepared by the talented TSR crew made up of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti. Schatz is coming off a dominating performance last Friday at LoneStar Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, where he earned top qualifying honors and led every lap of every race he started – heat, dash and 35-lap A-Feature. With the victory, Schatz made it four consecutive seasons in which he’s won at least three races in a row. He set his career-longest winning streak of six in August 2014, won five consecutive races in June of 2015, and four straight last August.
He also is the most recent Outlaw winner in Las Vegas, where he raced past Brad Sweet with five laps remaining en route to victory last March at the high-speed, half-mile dirt oval. The win was his ninth A-Feature triumph at The Dirt Track, most by any driver.
This week’s stop marks the ninth consecutive year the Outlaws will stage early season races in Las Vegas and, for Schatz, competing in Las Vegas has been more than welcome throughout his illustrious WoO career. He is the only driver to compete in all 53 WoO races – 35 A-Features and 18 preliminary programs – at The Dirt Track. He first cashed in at the track by closing the 1999 season with his initial Las Vegas triumph. He repeated that performance five seasons later in 2004, claiming the season finale for “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
Schatz made it two wins in a row by racing to victory in March 2005 and three consecutive seasons with a Vegas victory after taking the opening-night A-Feature in March 2006. Seven months later, he put an exclamation point on his first Outlaw championship by winning the season finale at The Dirt Track. Following a two-year hiatus, Schatz led the Outlaws back to the track in February 2009 and, once again, the No. 15 was parked in victory lane. Early season Las Vegas wins in 2013, 2014 and 2016 were part of history as Schatz became the first driver in the Outlaws’ 39-year history to win more than 20 races in four consecutive seasons.
The FVP Outlaw Showdown is part of the Outlaws’ 15-race Kick-Off Tour. Following the three-race DIRTcar Nationals in Florida during Speedweeks, the traveling Sprint car teams began a six-week trek from Texas last weekend that also includes stops in Nevada, California, Arizona and back to Texas.
Fans attending the Las Vegas event are also encouraged to stop by the Arctic Cat booth behind the main grandstand for an up-close look at the brand’s latest products, including the HDX and Alterra. Also, fans can look for Arctic Cat’s presence in the flagstand Thursday night as Rolf and Lisa Heddland will wave the green flag during one of the evening’s races.
For both programs at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. PST and the grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. For tickets, visitwww.lvms.com or call the track at (702) 644-4444.
Race fans unable to attend the DIRTcar Nationals can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live video coverage is available, on a pay-per-view basis or 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. 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,
Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at www.Facebook.com/
Donny Schatz: Facebook at www.facebook.com/
Arctic Cat: Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArcticCat
Curb: Facebook at www.facebook.com/
Ford Performance: Facebook at www.facebook.com/
|Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J:|
What makes The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway unique and why have you had so much success at the facility throughout your career?
“It’s a great place to race, for starters. When I was first starting to race, one of the places I raced at was Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, North Dakota. It was a great big track where the speeds were incredible. The first race the Outlaws ever had in Las Vegas was in November of 1996 a couple months before I started my rookie year. I still remember being there racing and just taking it all in. It was fast. We weren’t that fast, but that came over time. Whether it’s a season or track, winning for the first time is always the hardest. To be able to get that first win to close the 1999 season was a big deal for our team. We had won the Western World in Phoenix and then got to Las Vegas and put ourselves in a position to win that final night after two good preliminary nights. It all came together that night and we’ve had a lot of other good nights there since. I celebrated my first WoO championship here after winning the last race of the year. We’ve come out here and won races early in the year that gave us momentum heading to California. I love racing in Las Vegas. With everything going on at the NASCAR track and all the fans who come to see us, it’s a fun event and one we look forward to every year.”
The season is only four races old, but coming in with a three-race winning streak has to be a positive for you and the TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team. Do you agree?
“We are always looking to win races and the most important one is the next one on the schedule. So we’re focused on Las Vegas right now. We had to leave what happened in Florida in the rearview mirror and this week we have to do the same with what happened at LoneStar last weekend. And just because we’ve won at Las Vegas before doesn’t guarantee us anything. You have to work for everything you get in this sport. Ted Johnson instilled that in me all those years ago when I started. I was a kid out on the road trying to live my dream and getting beat by the greats of this sport night after night. You remember those things and do everything you can to keep getting better. I go about it that way and my crew does the same. I can’t say enough about Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti. They are so motivated to win races. It’s great to be surrounded by a crew who is so driven to succeed. WhenSaturday’s race was canceled, they headed from Texas to Las Vegas. And I’m sure they have been thinking about ways to make sure we are as fast as we can be when we unload on Thursday night.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!