INDIANAPOLIS (May 2, 2013) – There are only a couple of tracks on the 85-race World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series schedule that can match the history of Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The fabled high banks and intimidating concrete wall have challenged some of the best that have ever channeled their passion for victory behind the wheel of a racecar. An Eldora win ranks pretty high on high on any short-track driver’s list of accomplishments.
The track is celebrating 60 years of racing in 2013 and, this weekend, the WoO STP Sprint Car Series continues a 36-year tradition by staging the two-night Outlaw Thunder event on the half-mile, dirt oval. It will be the first of three stops this season at “The Big E” for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz. Schatz is already part of the illustrious list of Eldora winners, and but he knows adding another Eldora victory this weekend would help the STP team overcome a bumpy start to the season.
The TSR tandem, which has combined to win 25 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championships, finds itself looking up in the standings entering a busy month of May. The Eldora doubleheader kicks off a dozen Outlaw races before the first of June, and the results will likely have a huge effect on the 2013 championship aspirations of both drivers. Through the first 17 races this season, Schatz has won twice and earned 11 top-10 finishes, but it’s the five finishes outside the top-10 that has him seeking a turnaround.
Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, has been one of the most consistent finishers at Eldora during the past seven seasons. Since 2006, the five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has 29 top-10 finishes in 32 starts. Twenty of those finishes have been top-fives, and he has won four times. The Fargo, N.D., racer is trying to end a 14-race winless streak at the track since winning his second Kings Royal title in July 2009. Last May, he finished second in the opener and raced from 24th to sixth the following night. Friday night, he’ll be making his 85th career WoO start at the facility.
The Outlaws are coming off consecutive weekends where weather played havoc on their schedule. Two weeks ago, the event at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway had to be postponed. Last weekend, the Outlaws were forced to cancel a stop at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., because of flooding. And last Friday night’s scheduled event at the Salina (Okla.) Highbanks was pushed back 24 hours because of persistent rain. The race was held Saturday, but extremely fast racing conditions made passing difficult. Schatz advanced from 15th to 12th in the 30-lap A-Feature.
Following the action in Salina, Daryn Pittman continues to lead the WoO championship standings. Schatz currently ranks fifth with 2,243 points – trailing Pittman by 179 points – and has two wins, five top-fives, and 11 top-10s to date.
Friday and Saturday at the Eldora Speedway, the grandstands open at 2 p.m. EDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. More information and ticket details are available by contacting Eldora Speedway at www.EldoraSpeedway.com or by calling (937) 338-3815.
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:
Over the last seven seasons, you’ve been extremely consistent at Eldora. Is it a simple matter of experience that has been the difference?
“Experience definitely is part of it. When I was first racing with the Outlaws, I was like everybody else and thought you had go out and get right on the wall and just hang on. It took a few bumps and bruises for me to understand there are other ways to be successful there. It’s still important to get up on the wall, but having a car that lets you move around and run through middle, down low and on the cushion is a big part of it. I have matured and learned how to get around Eldora, but I’ve also had a strong team for the last seven years. We have a program that works well at a lot of tracks, and we just continue trying to make it better and better. We’ve had a lot of top-fives and some runs from the back into the top-10, but we haven’t gotten the wins the past couple of seasons. I’ll take the consistency, but a few wins would be nice. We’re going to try and see if we can get back to victory lane there some time this year.”
The schedule for the last month has been primarily single-night shows. Will racing consecutive nights at the same track give you an advantage this week?
“Everybody will have the same opportunity, but it probably just helps you with the small details. Dirt racing is different every day. No matter if you are at the same track or not. Ideally, you’d have some success the first night. Start the night with a good qualifying run and then make progress with the car the rest of the night. Get the car working the best for the feature. If all goes well, you can come back the next night and stay in the same general area with your car. Of course, track conditions will determine how close you stay with the set-ups and if you were able to get the car the best you could. It’s just a matter of communicating and sticking to what you know. Things should stay pretty similar this weekend. The weather looks good and the staff at Eldora does a great job with track prep. The other thing to keep in mind is that we’ve got a pretty big race at Eldora in July (the Kings Royal). This is our only weekend here until then, so we’re not only trying to win races this weekend, but we’re also trying to prepare for coming back here in July.”