It’s the first of three trips inside hostile territory this week for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and the rest of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series regulars. Schatz and the TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team will square of with the famed “Pennsylvania Posse” three times in the next four nights before venturing to New York to cap a busy week of action for “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
Schatz, the eight-time and reigning WoO champion, leads the contingent of 15 WoO regulars into central Pennsylvania, a region that boasts the toughest group of teams the Outlaws face each year. The driver of the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J will look to carry the torch again for the traveling regulars, starting with tonight’s Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln Speedway near Abbottstown. Last May, Schatz tallied one for the Outlaws in their battle with the Posse at Lincoln by leading the 30-lap A-Feature from start to finish. Following the Gettysburg Clash, the Outlaws will travel to historic Williams Grove Speedway near Mechanicsburg for the two-night NAPA/NGK Spark Plug Williams Grove Morgan Cup on Friday and Saturday night.
In each of the previous 39 seasons, the Outlaws have embarked on trips inside The Keystone State seeking the opportunity to take not only the prize money, but bragging rights in what has become a very heated rivalry. For the past 20 WoO campaigns, Schatz has seen the rivalry at its best. He scratched and clawed his way into the main event fields as a teenager and splashed onto the scene with his first victory on the biggest stage, the 2000 Williams Grove National Open. And he has been putting his stamp on the rivalry ever since, totaling 24 of his 238 career WoO A-Feature triumphs in Pennsylvania. He has 19 career wins at Williams Grove, including five National Open triumphs at the historic half-mile, dirt oval.
He’ll return to Lincoln Speedway Wednesday as the defending Gettysburg Clash winner after scoring his initial win at the 3/8-mile, semi-banked dirt oval. The win came in his seventh career start at the track and his quest for victory had the locals on their feet throughout as Schatz led from the pole and fended off hometown hero Danny Dietrich to score the win. The outcome was a reversal of Schatz’s previous best finish of second in May 2012, when he chased Dietrich lap after lap but wasn’t able to get around him.
After a rough start at Williams Grove during his first two seasons on tour in 1997 and 1998, Schatz has learned to love racing there. A podium finish in May 1999 changed his fortune, and the Fargo, North Dakota resident has been very successful in his 103 career starts at the track. His 15 wins in full WoO point shows are the most of any track where the Outlaws compete and his 19 career wins at the track ties him for 20th all-time at the historic speed plant. He’s had his share of success in May at the track, scoring a preliminary triumph in 2001, a weekend sweep in 2007, victories in 2013 and 2015, when he scored his most recent victory there. Last season, he finished in the top-five in all four Williams Grove starts.
This rivalry has added juice this weekend with the Morgan Cup on the line Saturday night. Not only does the A-Feature event pay an extra $5,000 to the winner, but also bragging rights for either the Outlaws or the Posse. The traveling trophy will reside either at the speedway for another year if a Pennyslvania driver comes out the winner, or if Schatz has his way, he’ll take the trophy back to Charlotte to the “World Racing Headquarters” until next year.
In each of the past two seasons, the Outlaws have ventured north to Weedsport Speedway in Central New York following their first run through central Pennsylvania and will again this week. The results have been the same both times, but getting to that outcome has been a bit different. Schatz had a flag-to-flag victory in 2015 when the Outlaws returned to the 3/8-mile dirt oval for the first time since 1993. Last May, Schatz started ninth and methodically worked his way to the front, ultimately passing Logan Schuchart for the lead on lap 30 en route to his seventh win of the season.
The TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team is looking to continue a strong month of May in which it has three wins in five starts, including last Saturday night’s victory in the #LetsRaceTwo finale at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Heading into this week’s action, Schatz leads the WoO championship standings with 3,252 points on the strength of his series-leading nine victories and 16 top-five finishes. He leads David Gravel by 74 points through 23 of 91 scheduled nights of racing.
Race fans unable to attend this week’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live video for all four races this week is available through pay-per-view, 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 cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information.
Wednesday at Lincoln, the pit gates open at 3:30 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, call (717) 624-2755, or visitwww.LincolnSpeedway.com.
Friday and Saturday at Williams Grove, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (717) 679-5000 or visit www.williamsgrove.com
Sunday at Weedsport, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are slated to begin at 6 p.m. Visit weedsportspeedway.com or call 315-834-3067 to get 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:|
It’s round one of the Outlaws’ annual battle with the Pennsylvania Posse. Forty years ago, when the late Ted Johnson started the WoO, this was the type of rivalry he could have only dreamed would evolve. How much do you enjoy carrying on the Outlaw tradition when venturing into Pennsylvania?
“The energy in the stands that you see when we race at Lincoln and Williams Grove I’m pretty sure is exactly what Ted dreamed of back when this all started. I have vivid memories of Ted taking me for golf-cart rides around Williams Grove, talking to me about what it meant to be an Outlaw. This is a fan’s sport, and everyone has their teams and they let you know about it. It gets everyone excited for sure. You have to channel that because it’s still about the racing. Racing with the Outlaws every night is the toughest group of cars in the country, so you are prepared for just about anything. The guys who run regionally there in Pennsylvania have top-notch equipment, and there are a lot of guys who have been out on the Outlaw tour at some point in their careers, and certainly a lot of guys who run with us quite a bit. It’s a great challenge for us to race on their home turf where they have already raced five or six times this year. We want to win every night and that starts with being prepared. I’m fortunate Tony (Stewart) has surrounded me with a group of guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti – who are the most competitive people I’ve ever been around. They work together tirelessly to continue improving things. Tony and the staff at TSR also work hard to keep partners like Arctic Cat and Ford Performance involved in this sport and we’re off to a good start with them. These are the types of weeks Ted certainly would be proud of. I’m just fortunate to be part of it all.”
Following three nights of racing in Pennsylvania, you will return to Weedsport SpeedwaySunday to close out the weekend. That’s been a good thing the past two years with you scoring wins each year. What’s the biggest difference racing at places like Lincoln and Williams Grove and then going to Weedsport?
“It starts with the track having a very unique shape. You carry all of that speed into turn one, then it opens up into that sweeping back stretch. It’s a unique place, for sure. You have to be aggressive but be able to be patient, also. Every track has its own personality. It’s about adapting to it as quickly as you can. Racing at Lincoln and Williams Grove, you have all the energy from the rivalry and the way those tracks change. It’s a fun challenge for us and we’re hoping to continue our run up at Weedsport.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!