SCHATZ CLOSING OUT CALIFORNIA SWING IN HANFORD, PERRIS
INDIANAPOLIS (April 11, 2013) – There was a time when heading to California meant filling your pockets with as much gold as possible. It was just the kind of recipe to attract Outlaws from everywhere. Even though many years have passed and most of the gold has already been pocketed, there’s still money to be made, but it’s a lot tougher now. Just ask any competitor on the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series who has spent the last four weekends mixing it up at some of the toughest dirt tracks on the West Coast.
There has yet to be a repeat winner through six of the nine scheduled California WoO spring tour stops. Mother Nature has even claimed one event. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz would like to extend that number this weekend. Despite leading the second-most A-Feature laps so far this season (41), Schatz has only one victory in 2013 and has been shut out so far in California. The Fargo, N.D., driver hopes to change that Friday when the Outlaws return to Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif., for the first time since 2011, followed by the SoCal Showdown at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway Saturday.
Schatz came to California in mid-March looking to duplicate the torrid run he made through California last fall. During a five-race stretch on consecutive nights last September, he raced the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J to a pair of wins, a pair of seconds and a fourth-place finish. It was easily the best California run he’s had since joining the series in 1997 and it led to him claiming his fifth WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship. The Fargo, N.D., racer got off to a good start at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare during the opening night of the swing March 15. Schatz led the first 14 laps of the 35-lap A-Feature before breaking a front axle. He bounced back the following week with a charge from 13th to third in Stockton and has earned a pair of top-10 finishes in the two most recent events.
Friday’s stop at Kings Speedway will be the 29th appearance by “The Greatest Show on Dirt” at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval. Two seasons ago, the series returned for the first time since 2003, but a rain shower that occurred just before the A-Feature was set to start washed out the race. Schatz, who raced from 24th to ninth during his rookie season with the Outlaws, will be making his 11th start at the track and is in search of his 126th career WoO A-Feature victory.
The final stop on California soil this spring is slated for Saturday in Perris, where the Outlaws have staged 12 races since tbe racetrack opened in the fall of 1996. Schatz has twice finished fourth at Perris, first in February 2002, where he charged from 12th to fourth to score his best finish at the half-mile, dirt oval.
Through 12 of the 85 races scheduled to decide the 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship, Schatz has one victory, three top-fives, eight top-10s and ranks fifth in the WoO championship standings. The five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has 1,558 points and is currently 155 markers behind leader Daryn Pittman.
Friday at Kings Speedway, the grandstands open at 5 p.m. PDT. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For Saturday’s race in Perris, the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. More information and ticket details for both events are available at WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets or by calling 877-395-8606.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO STP 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 on all the site features, including live results from the track.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
There have been 10 drivers who’ve won during the 12 events this season. If you had to provide a reason why so many drivers are winning, what would your answer be?
“I’d say there are a lot of variables, but the biggest thing is that, for the first part of the year, not too many people have been able to do a lot of passing for the lead. We won at Las Vegas from the front row and led the next night after starting up front, too. When we led in Tulare, we started on the front row. Unfortunately, we only have one win instead of possibly three or more, but right now things are pretty close for a lot the guys racing out here. The tracks have been really fast and that means it’s likely going to come down to track position. You have to qualify in the right spot and make your way into the dash. A lot of guys have been able to do that.”
This run through California hasn’t been what you and your STP team were shooting for. What would strong results this weekend do for you guys as the series heads back to the Midwest?
“You always enjoy racing for wins. That’s the mindset we have entering the weekend. Let’s work to get the car performing extremely well and then go see what we can do with it. Obviously, we have a team that has won championships and know it’s a long season. We just need to get better every night. We came out here last fall and really had things going well so, naturally, our goal this time was to be just as competitive. It hasn’t worked out that way so far but, if we can end this run out here on a good note, it’ll help.”