TULARE, CA (March 17) – After a sensational run through California last fall, Donny Schatz was looking forward to starting another streak of solid finishes in the Golden State as the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series kicked off five weekends of action. He the first 14 laps of Friday’s feature before a broken front axle ended his shot at victory. Saturday after qualifying 20th all the five-time champion could do was get in line and follow the freight train during the 35-lap A-Feature on the rubber down surface.
Schatz, driver of the No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, entered the two-night program in Tulare with four consecutive top-six finishes and began the night by qualifying 10th overall in the field of 32 cars. A runner-up finish in the second heat earned Schatz a starting spot in the dash, and the luck of the draw put Schatz on the pole for the six-lap race. He would end up chasing Jac Haudenschild throughout. The finish gave Schatz the outside-front-row starting spot for the 35-lap A-Feature.
He took advantage by racing into the lead on the opening lap and maintained the point position for the first 14 circuits. It was a restart after a lap-14 crash that turned a promising night into another frustrating one. A large hole in turn one made racing treacherous all night and the STP machine hit it just enough when the race resumed to cause the No. 15 car to bounce through the turn and into the wall. The contact broke the front axle and ended Schatz’s shot at a second triumph at the 1/3-mile dirt oval. Despite a tremendous effort by the STP team, repairs couldn’t be made in time for Schatz to return to the field and he was credited with 23rd.
The following night, he was looking for redemption following Friday’s disappointing outcome. He qualified 20th overall and transferred into the A-Feature by finishing sixth in heat two. He started the A-Feature 20th and picked up positions early before the rubber-down surface made passing nearly impossible just 10 laps in. Schatz held his line for the remaining laps and finished 13th.
Following the results of last week, Schatz ranks fifth in the 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship standings with 1,036 points. He trails leader Daryn Pittman by 111 markers after eight of 85 scheduled nights of racing.
The California tour continues next weekend for Schatz with an inaugural event at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway Friday and the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., Saturday.