INDIANAPOLIS (May 8, 2013) – Sometimes the numbers don’t lie, and the facts are just too difficult to ignore. When the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series makes its debut at a new dirt track, the odds-on favorite to come out on top has to be Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser. And when the Outlaws are competing at historic Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, it’s considered an upset when his TSR teammate Donny Schatz isn’t leading the way.
The Outlaws continue their 12-race month of the May with events at Elko (Minn.) Speedway Friday, the first-ever WoO program at the track, and Saturday in Knoxville, where 132 previous Outlaw A-Features have been contested. Schatz, pilot of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, earned early season WoO victories at Knoxville in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and has finished first or second in the sport’s biggest race, the Knoxville Nationals, 10 times in the last 11 years.
Friday’s program at Elko will be the Outlaws’ first on the 3/8-mile, high-banked oval. The paved track has been covered with dirt for a number of events this season and will be again this weekend.
The event in Elko won’t be the first time Schatz has competed on a dirt-covered paved surface. The five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion won the Channellock Challenge at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway back in 2001, when the famed half-mile oval was covered with dirt. The Fargo, N.D., native is looking for a similar outcome a little closer to home this time, and he’s no stranger to winning in Minnesota. Four of his 126 career WoO A-Feature wins have come in Minnesota, including three consecutive stops at Princeton Speedway.
Saturday marks the first of two single-night programs at Knoxville for the Outlaws in 2013. Each will serve as an opportunity to prepare for the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals in August. Schatz, who will be making his 75th WoO Knoxville start, has had incredible success on the Marion County Fairgrounds.
Schatz has 15 career wins at the track and enters Saturday with a two-race winning streak there. Last August, on his 35th birthday, he raced from 10th to first to win the SPEED SPORT Knoxville World Challenge and, the following night, led the final 36 laps to claim his sixth career Nationals A-Main crown. Since finishing second in the 2005 Knoxville Nationals A-Main, he has started 32 feature races at Knoxville. His stats from those races include: 12 wins, 26 top-five finishes and 29 top-10sThe TSR driver spent last weekend at the legendary Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, where Schatz picked up the KSE Hard Charger Award Friday night by racing from 24th to fourth in the 30-lap A-Feature and followed that performance with a third-place finish Saturday.
Heading into this weekend’s action, Daryn Pittman leads the WoO championship standings. Schatz currently ranks third with 2,529 points – trailing Pittman by 171 points – and has two wins, seven top-fives, and 13 top-10s to date.
For Friday’s event at Elko Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT, with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. For more details, contact SLS Promotions at (815) 344-2023, or visit www.slspromotions.com.
Saturday at Knoxville, the grandstands will open at 6 p.m. CDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. For more details, contact Knoxville Raceway by calling (641) 842-5431, or visit www.knoxvilleraceway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s events 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:
With Friday’s race at Elko being on a dirt surface that is temporary, do you see that making it more of a challenge than normal to figure out how the track will respond throughout the night?
“I always say dirt is dirt, but we also know that no two dirt tracks can be alike. There are so many variables, from the type of dirt used to what they put in the dirt to either keep the dust down or hold the moisture in. That’s not even taking into account the temperature or the wind. I had the privilege the last three years to work with my family at Red River Valley Speedway and I learned way more than I ever thought I would about dirt. My dad was like a mad scientist just trying to find ways to give the racers the best surface possible. We’ll just have to see how the track holds up. I know they’ve been working on it the past few weeks and, despite dealing with some crazy weather, everything seems to be ready. It’s going to be the same for all the teams. It’s just a matter of finding the fastest way around and paying attention as the night goes on.”
Saturday’s race at Knoxville is one of two races you will have at the track in advance of the Nationals later in August. How important is it for you and your STP team to gather as much information as possible?
“We’re certainly going to follow the same plan we have the past seven or eight years, where we look at this first trip to Knoxville as a test session. It seems like every year we have something new that we are trying to adapt to. We’re on new Hoosier tires this year, so it will be a chance to see how they compare to the Goodyears we ran there the past three years, as well as the Hoosiers we had before that. The biggest thing for our STP team is to keep fine-tuning. We’ve had a solid package with our J&J cars and the motors Ron Shaver has built. We know what to expect, for the most part, but we know the competition is as strong as ever. We’re going there to win the race and try to learn as much as we can to not only help us for the Nationals, but to help us the rest of the season. We’ve got some tough races coming up in Pennsylvania next week and we want to build on a couple of top-five finishes last weekend at Eldora.”