INDIANAPOLIS (March 20, 2013) – Just as a number of college basketball teams are hoping to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow over the next three weeks of NCAA March Madness play, the best Winged Sprint car drivers are seeking gold this weekend with a pair of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series events in The Golden State of California. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz is looking to rebound from a tough weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., by christening Stockton 99 Dirt Track Friday and returning to Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico for the annual Mini Gold Cup Saturday.
Friday’s inaugural appearance by “The Greatest Show on Dirt” at Stockton 99 Dirt Track will be the first of three races at new facilities this season. Schatz has been the maiden winner at several facilities throughout his careers, including last season. He dominated the Outlaws’ first visit to Cornwall (Ontario) Motor Speedway, leading all 30 laps of the A-Feature. That win started his monumental run to a fifth WoO STP Sprint Cars Series title.
Schatz will return to Silver Dollar Speedway Saturday as the defending Mini Gold Cup champion. The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J led all 35 laps of last year’s Mini Gold Cup and made it consecutive wins at the semi-banked, quarter-mile dirt oval when he was triumphant in the opening night of last fall’s 59th annual Gold Cup Race of Champions. The Fargo, N.D., racer followed those victories with fourth- and second-place finishes, giving him five top-five finishes in his last seven starts at the track.
Schatz is looking forward to getting back into action Friday following a pair of difficult nights in Tulare. The 2012 WoO champ had a broken front axle end his shot at victory Friday and managed to advance from 20th to 13th on a rubber-down surface Saturday.
Through eight 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series events, Schatz has a victory, three top-five finishes and four top-10s and ranks fifth in the WoO championship standings. Schatz has 1,036 points and is currently 111 markers behind leader Daryn Pittman.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
The weekend starts with your first race at Stockton 99 Dirt Track. Do you do anything out of your regular routine when you race a track for the first time?
“There really isn’t anything much different. You may pay a little closer attention to how the track is changing throughout the night. Watch how it comes in for hot laps and see if it changes during qualifying. The heats are usually a pretty good indicator of what it’s going to do. I’m sure most of the guys will be checking out the track quite a bit. In the end, you’ve got to do what you know. We’ll talk as a team and come up with a game plan each time we hit the track and see if we can put ourselves in position to be a factor at the end of the night.”
Last season, your results at Silver Dollar Speedway were some of the best of your career. Will you and your STP team prepare for Saturday’s Mini Gold Cup the same way you did last year?
“We prepare for every race the same. The STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, Jim Oare) work hard to give me a good car every time I hit the track. Last year, we had some good runs in Chico. Winning in March was kind of like last week’s race where you wanted to start up front because of how abrasive the track was, but in the fall it was classic Chico where you could race all over. Those three finishes inside the top-four at last year’s Gold Cup went a long way toward us earning the championship. We’ve got a basic setup for racing at Chico. After seeing what the track is doing, we’ll adjust from there. It’s a fun place to race when your car is right. Our car’s been right quite a bit this year, so we’re optimistic.”