Constant improvement is the goal for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) each and every night of competition with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series. What they learn now may help them later during one of the most grueling race schedules in all of motorsports. Their expectations continue to soar early in the 2017 campaign and, despite winning six of the first eight WoO A-Feature races, eight-time and reigning WoO champion Donny Schatz and his team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti know they must continue getting better.
Improvement at this week’s venue, the Stockton (Calif.) Dirt Track, will be a tall order for the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J. Schatz swept both nights of the 2016 FVP Western Spring Shootout at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval located on the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. Those results won’t factor in the team’s quest to continue one of the best starts a team has ever had in the 40-year history of “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” but the collection of notes from six previous races at the facility should help them build a solid plan of attack.
This weekend is the second leg of the Outlaws’ annual spring tour of the Golden State and, just as was the case last week, the TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team enters the weekend as the series’ most recent winner. After seeing their five-race WoO winning streak end last Friday at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Schatz and crew bounced back in typical championship form by posting a complete nightSaturday at Thunderbowl that began with qualifying third and concluded with Schatz making bold late-race passes around Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman to capture his first victory at the track since 2007.
The victory was his 15th career triumph in California and three of those have come in six starts at Stockton. The North Dakota driver first circled the track in the spring of 2013 and thrilled the capacity crowd with his run from 13th to third in the 30-lap A-Feature. His hard-charging runs continued the following spring when Schatz stormed from eighth to take the lead from Kerry Madsen. He would lead eight laps, but was ecplised for the victory by Madsen as the two came to the flagstand side by side for the win. In 2015, Schatz took opening-night qualifying honors and led 14 laps to score his first victory at the track by edging Shane Stewart. Last spring, Schatz again was the top qualifier in Friday’s program and later in the evening passed Brian Brown for the top spot on lap 16. He would lead the rest of the way for career win number two at Stockton. And, 24 hours later, he charged from sixth and drove around leader Joey Saldana on lap 25 and led the final five circuits to complete the weekend sweep.
With eight of 92 scheduled nights of racing complete, Schatz continues to lead the championship standings, holding a 72-point advantage over Brad Sweet. He tops several other categories including wins and top-fives with six each, top-10s with seven, and laps led with 84.
For both events this weekend at the Stockton Dirt Track, the pit gates will open at noon PDT while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.stocktondirttrack.com or call 844-DIRT-TIX.
Race fans unable to attend the DIRTcar Nationals can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live audio is available so 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, www.arcticcat.com, and www.donnyschatzmotorsports.com
Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at www.Facebook.com/
Donny Schatz: Facebook at www.facebook.com/DonnySchatz or on Twitter and Instagram @DonnySchatz.
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/Curb J&J:|
|With a late-race pass last Saturday, you were able to return to victory lane at Thunderbowl Raceway. How important was it for you to end that winless streak at that track?
“I know I was pretty excited – really, mostly excited for my guys. They work so hard and continue to do everything they can to help me win. It’s no secret that we hadn’t won a race in Tulare in a long time. And that’s been a goal for us, to keep getting better at the things we don’t feel like we are good enough at. It’s a long list and we’re trying to check them off one at a time. We didn’t make the show at Tulare last year. A couple years before that, we led the feature and then crashed out. It’s a tough place to race and, if you can win there, you know you’ve accomplished something. We came into the weekend on a roll and honestly felt like we made some progress Friday night. That progress put us a position to winSaturday. Qualifying went well and then the car was just so good in the feature. We were all surprised that it took rubber, so it was just a matter of finding a way around those guys. When you are leading and in the rubber, you can’t move around. I took some chances and it paid off. That’s my job and that’s what Tony (Stewart) and everyone involved with this team expects.”
The results you’ve put at Stockton are the best you have at any California track. What’s been the biggest factor in your success at that facility?
“It all goes back to my team. Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti have a passion for winning that is second to none. They put me in a car every night that I have a chance to drive to the front with. As a driver, that’s all you can ask for. As far as Stockton goes, I’ve really enjoyed racing there every time we’ve been there. It’s a first-class facility, the fan support is awesome. We’ve had such great crowds come out and support us there. And the racing surface really is ideal for good racing. You almost always see a top and bottom groove in the feature. We’ve also been able to find a way to make the middle work there, too. That’s what you want as a driver – a track where you can move around. We’ve had some thrilling finishes there and that’s the kind of stuff that keeps people coming back. I’m really looking forward to getting back to Stockton and having the opportunity to race there again. It’s been a lot of fun in the past and we’re expecting it to be this weekend, as well.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!