INDIANAPOLIS (March 5, 2013) – The journey to a World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series title is filled with a number of peaks and valleys. The goal is to limit the number of lows and maximize the highs while keeping the big picture in mind. Sounds like a good strategy to follow when your destination is Las Vegas for two nights.
Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz returns to action this week with a doubleheader Wednesday and Thursday at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before kicking off 32 straight weekends of racing with Saturday’s stop at Tucson (Ariz.) International Raceway.
Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, leads the cast of Outlaws back into action as the series’ schedule hits high gear following two rare weekends off. The 2013 campaign began with three nights of action during Florida Speedweeks and the Las Vegas races are two of 13 events “The Greatest Show on Dirt” will stage in Nevada, Arizona, California and New Mexico over the next six weeks.
Schatz, the reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion, is a six-time winner at The Dirt Track and is the only driver to make all 45 WoO A-Features contested at the facility. His first triumph there concluded the 1999 season, and he won again to close the 2004 campaign. He won twice in Las Vegas during the 2006 season, which included the finale that put an exclamation point on his first WoO championship. The five-time WoO champion who calls Fargo, N.D., home most recently was victorious in Las Vegas in February 2009 and has posted 10 consecutive top-10 finishes at the track.
From the blazing fast half-mile in Las Vegas, Kinser and Schatz will head to the 3/8-mile, dirt oval in Tucson. The track has hosted only three Outlaw events and those came in 2006 and 2007. The TSR drivers are the most recent winners at the facility with Schatz winning in the fall of 2006, when he nearly pulled off a clean sweep. Finishing second in the dash is the only thing that kept him from achieving that feat after he topped the charts in qualifying, won the first heat and led all 30 laps of the main event.
With three of the 89 nights of action slated for the 2013 WoO season in the books, Daryn Pittman leads the championship standings. Schatz is currently tied for ninth with 382 points and trails Pittman by 62 markers. Kinser is in 16th with 360 and is 84 out of first. Schatz raced from 22nd to eighth the first night of 2013 and from 14th to fourth in the finale at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
Following a couple of charges forward in Florida during the opening weekend, are you looking forward to getting back into action this week?
“Absolutely. We’re ready to get back into the car and get back into action. We were able to start the season with a couple of All-Star wins in Florida and then had some decent runs at Volusia (Speedway Park) to start the Outlaws campaign. The guys on the STP team (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, and Jim Oare) did a great job building some fast racecars. The first night in Volusia, we were trying something different in qualifying but, other than that, we were really fast all three nights. The car went forward every night. I feel like we should have came out of there with at least one win but things didn’t go in our favor. The goal now is get one in Las Vegas. I know we’re all ready to get the season going.”
Racing at full speed resumes this week with a doubleheader at Las Vegas, where you’re a six-time winner. Is there a secret to your success at The Dirt Track?
“I’ve been fortunate to be racing with the Outlaws full-time since 1997 and have made a lot of laps. Your goal as a competitor is to continue getting better. The biggest thing for me was to figure out the best way to get around the track and then ultimately have success. We won for the first time to end the 1999 season and always seem to have a good chance. Our big track program has been really good with the combination of our J&J cars and Shaver engines. That’s been a consistent formula since 2001, and we’ve just tried to keep making it stronger. Fortunately, the big, fast half-mile tracks seem to be where we have a lot of success. We’d like to get this six-week run out West started off by racing for wins and it’s always good to have good luck in Las Vegas.”
This Saturday, you’ll return to Tucson, where you’ve raced with the Outlaws three times and finished on the podium each time. You also won a pair of Western World Championships at the track. Does that previous success give you an advantage on Saturday?
“I don’t think it gives us any sort of advantage this weekend. Things change every time you show up at dirt track. The good news is we have an idea what it took to win at the track in the past, so we will at least have a good starting point for the night. I’ll always remember the night I won there in the fall of 2006. It was right after (WoO founder) Ted Johnson passed away, and I wanted to win everything I could that night for him. He was the guy who had a dream and built a series that gave me a chance to do what I love to do. We were fastest in qualifying. I won my heat and led every lap of the feature. It was an emotional night, for sure. We’ve had some good runs there since then and we’re looking forward to getting back there and seeing if we can put on another great show.”