SCHATZ LOOKS TO KEEP WINNING WAYS GOING NORTH OF THE BORDER
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 23, 2012) – One of the toughest things a champion faces is sustaining success. There’s no greater feeling than winning that first title but, once you reach the pinnacle, staying there becomes a way of life. Sports dynasties are built around teamwork and traditionally at least one incredibly talented member. In the 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers were the class of the National Hockey League led by Wayne Gretzky and cast of characters who only wanted to win.
Having won 20 championships since the inception of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series in 1978, Steve Kinser has been a dynasty by his own right. But it’s been a decade since “The King of the Outlaws” claimed a title and, during the last six seasons, his Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teammate Donny Schatz has won four WoO championships. This weekend, Kinser and Schatz return to Edmonton for the sixth annual Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway, where they’ll continue their trek toward recapturing WoO championship glory.
Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, comes into the weekend as the hottest driver on the tour after winning four of the last seven points races. The Fargo, N.D., native started his resurgence with a flag-to-flag victory July 29 at Cornwall (Ontario) Motor Speedway and, two weeks later, he continued his Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals dominance by winning the sport’s biggest race for the sixth time in the last seven years.
The STP driver followed the Nationals triumph with a convincing victory last Tuesday at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and then finished second at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., last Friday. He closed the week with an emotional victory in his hometown of Minot, N.D., where he had never claimed a WoO A-Feature prior to Sunday, when he led the final 34 laps to pick up his seventh WoO A-Feature of 2012 and 120th of his career.
Both Schatz and Kinser are looking to return to victory lane at Castrol. The TSR teammates each won during the Outlaws’ first visit to the 3/8-mile clay oval in August 2007. Kinser was the winner in the first race while Schatz came home victorious two nights later. In the last eight races at Castrol, Kinser has finished on the podium five times, including last year when he led the first 20 laps before finishing third. Schatz also has five podium finishes in the previous eight races. Last year, he raced past Kinser to take the lead and looked to be on his way to another Castrol victory when a lapped car ran into him moments after a red flag was thrown with only three laps remaining. The damage forced Schatz to the pit area and he would return to finish 10th.
Through 52 of 73 scheduled 2012 races, Schatz trails series leader Craig Dollansky in the 2012 WoO championship battle by 20 points. Dollansky has earned a series-leading 93 bonus points through qualifying proficiency in 2012 while Schatz has amassed just 23. Despite the difference, Schatz continues to close on Dollansky overall. The STP pilot was able to cut Dollansky’s lead from 39 to 20 with last week’s results. Schatz has accumulated 6,829 points, won seven A-Features, earned 22 top-fives and a series-best 41 top-10s.
Friday and Saturday at Castrol Raceway, the grandstands open at 4 p.m. MDT. Racing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. More details are available by visiting www.castrolraceway.com.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
The calendar turned to August and your results have returned to what you expected. What’s been the key?
“Everyone on this STP team is on the same page. We got back to simple with some things on the motor and the results have followed. Winning the Knoxville Nationals has become something we expect to do and, after winning that race, you just want to keep winning. We know we have a shot at this championship and the best thing we can do is keep winning. We’re all excited to get to the track each night and, every time we get on the track, we want to be fast. We’ve qualified better, which has been the biggest difference from earlier this year.”
Last year, you were leading at Castrol when disaster struck and you ended up in a crash. Do you feel like the place owes you one?
“I’m smart enough to know that, as a racer, you aren’t owed anything. Things happen for a reason and, last year, it didn’t work out for us. I always enjoy racing at Castrol. The track is one that lends itself to some good racing and our package there has been really good. We just need to keep doing what we’ve been the past few weeks and see if we can get another win in Edmonton. It’s been too long since we’ve won there, but races are hard to win. The fan support we get up there is incredible, and I’d like nothing more than to go up there and win another race.”