|It’s a throwback weekend for the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series as “The Greatest Show on Dirt” returns to a pair of tracks entrenched in the sport’s roots. Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz will lead the traveling Sprint car stars back to familiar soil this weekend as the Outlaws thunder through the plains, making stops Friday at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Missouri and Saturday at 81 Speedway in Park City, Kansas.
Schatz, the eight-time and reigning WoO champion, and TSR’s Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team are looking to begin the month of May in similar fashion as they kicked off the 2017 campaign in February. The team was performing at an incredible pace in Florida and is looking forward to a busy slate of action this month with the goal of building momentum for the heat of summer.
The biggest obstacle the past few weeks for Schatz and his crew of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti has been Mother Nature. Two weeks ago, a weekend of action was washed out and, last weekend, an Indiana doubleheader was reduced to a single event at Plymouth Speedway, where Schatz raced the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J to a fourth-place finish.
When action resumes Friday in Missouri, it will mark the first time the Outlaws have staged an event at the half-mile, dirt oval located on the Missouri State Fairgrounds since the summer of 2010. Schatz is a two-time WoO winner at the track where he officially made his Sprint car debut as a 15-year-old in the summer of 1993. For the first nine seasons of his Outlaw career, Schatz raced every year at the facility, including the 2003 season when he scored his first WoO triumph in Missouri by outdueling Outlaw icon Steve Kinser in a July thriller. Five years later, he returned to victory lane during his first season as driver of the TSR No. 15, charging from sixth to win his third consecutive WoO A-Feature in June 2008.
It’s been a little longer since the Outlaws circled the famous 81 Speedway near Wichita, Kansas and quite a bit has changed since that late-June race back in 2006. Schatz and Joey Saldana were locked into a championship battle with both eyeing their first WoO championship. The result of the evening mirrored the outcome of the championship battle later in the season. Schatz raced to victory and ultimately earned his first championship. The 3/8-mile facility first hosted the Outlaws in 1981 for two races that season. The series made regular stops there for five consecutive seasons and then returned for races in 1991 and 1992. It was another 12 years before the WoO returned to the track for three consecutive summers beginning in 2004.
Through 18 of the 92 scheduled races in the 2017 WoO campaign, Schatz continues to lead the standings. He has a 36-point advantage over David Gravel and leads the series with six A-Feature triumphs. He is tied for most top-fives with 11 and top-10s with 14.
For Friday’s race at State Fair Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visitmostatefairgrounds.com or call 800-422-3247.
Saturday at 81 Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m.Hot laps are slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit race81speedway.com or call 316-755-1781.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live audio coverage is available both nights 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:|
For the past 20 years, you’ve followed the World of Outlaws tour and have raced all across the country. The schedule has its regular tracks, but each year you have the chance to return to familiar facilities. This weekend, you will race at a pair of facilities that you haven’t been to in a while. Are you excited about going back to Sedalia and Wichita?
“When you race with the World of Outlaws, you develop a pattern of how the season goes from place to place. You have the tracks and certain events set in stone as to when those will come up, but you always have some different tracks sprinkled in there. When the schedule came out, I saw this weekend as one that I was looking forward to. It’s been a long time since we have raced at either place and I have good memories from both. When I first started with the Outlaws, we raced at Sedalia every year. We had some good runs there and finally got a win there. It’s a special place for me because, when I was getting started, Danny Lasoski was a guy who kind of took me under his wing and tried to lead me down the right path. Sedalia is pretty much one of his home tracks, and so, going there and racing was always a big deal to me. And I’m looking forward to getting back there. As far as 81 Speedway goes, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that we were there, but when I look and it was 2006, I can’t believe everything that has happened since. It was my first full season with Rick Warner as my crew chief, and his wife’s family is involved with the track there, so it was important for us to do well. We did that night and hopefully we can have similar success there this weekend.”
The calendar has turned to May and annual stops at Eldora, Williams Grove and Charlotte are on the horizon. How important is it to start the month with good results this weekend?
“It’s important for us to have good results every night. It’s been a tough stretch here through April with some of our results, and then trying to battle Mother Nature just to race. We learned some things a few weeks ago at Devil’s Bowl and then again last Friday night at Plymouth that will help. We just need to get on the track. This weekend should provide us a good opportunity. Going to Sedalia and racing on a big, fast half-mile gives us the chance to work on some things that will help us at the bigger tracks. And then, going to 81 Speedway, we’ll get to work on some of the smaller-track stuff. That’s the fun part about the Outlaws. Things just continue to come at you and being able to adapt to the changes quickly is what makes a team successful. Tony (Stewart) has surrounded me with an incredible team and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this weekend.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!