INDIANAPOLIS (June 20, 2013) – Its old-home week for five-time and reigning World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz and, as the old saying goes, “there is nothing better than going home.” For Schatz, things may be even better.
The Tony Stewart Racing driver returns to his home state of North Dakota on a two-race winning streak behind wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J and his past success at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, site of Friday’s Outlaw event, points to Schatz being one of the favorites to win his third consecutive WoO event. The Outlaw stars will follow Friday’s battle at River Cities with their inaugural race at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minn., which is only an hour from Fargo, where Schatz calls home.
Schatz enters the weekend following wins at Jackson (Minn.) Speedway last Friday and at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway Saturday. He became the second series driver in consecutive weeks to sweep a weekend of Outlaw races. Two weeks ago, Craig Dollansky pulled off back-to-back wins, and Schatz followed suit last week. No driver has won three consecutive races in the 2013 campaign. Following last weekend’s consecutive wins, Schatz has now won at least two races in a row in five of his first six seasons driving for TSR.
Many have called the high-banked, 3/10-mile dirt oval in Grand Forks one of the raciest tracks the Outlaws compete at all season. Since their first stop at the track in June 2007, all 11 40-lap A-Features have been thrillers to the end. Schatz won consecutive A-Features in June 2008 and 2009 and has finished inside the top-four in nine of those events. He had an epic battle with Kinser in August 2011, when the two exchanged the lead nine times during the final eight laps. Last season, Schatz finished fourth in June and second in the August race after a terrific three-way battle for the lead with Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser through the early portion of the race.
Through 33 races, Schatz leads the series with seven A-Feature wins and has earned 17 top-five and 26 top-10s. He ranks second in the WoO championship standings and trails leader Daryn Pittman by 137 markers.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
You head back home coming off a weekend sweep. How much does it help you to have some momentum coming back to tracks near home?
“It’s always good to be winning. And then to come home and race in front of lot of familiar faces, that makes it even better. I probably didn’t handle the pressure of racing in front of friends and family that well early in my career. There are a lot of distractions, so keeping focused on each task at hand is the most important thing. I’m even trying something else this weekend by racing my Dirt Late Model in Grand Forks the same night as we are racing with the World of Outlaws. The World of Outlaws race is the reason we are there, but we’ve ran the Dirt Late Model a few times around home, and we thought it might be fun to give the fans close to home something else to have fun with. The bottom line is that we haven’t won a World of Outlaws race in Grand Forks in a couple of seasons and we need to make that happen Friday. It’s great having a two-race winning streak but, getting it to three with a win in my home state would be something to really get excited about.”
Speaking of racing near home, Saturday’s race at I-94 Speedway is within an hour of your house but you haven’t been there for a long time. What sort of challenges will you have at I-94?
“Yeah, I think the last time I was there might have been 1994. That’s a long time ago, for sure. It sounds like are expecting a big crowd and, hopefully, we can put on a great show. As far as challenges go, it’ll be just like going to a new track. You have to keep a really close eye on the dirt surface. Figuring out what it’s going to do is probably one of the hardest parts – where is the fast line going to be by the end of the night and how do I get my car working there best. That’s one of the things that really makes racing with the World of Outlaws special. We race at so many places and there are so many variables at every race. It takes a total team effort to consistently be racing for wins no matter the size, shape or location of a particular track. We’re having fun right now and we’re looking forward to the challenge of Saturday night.”