KNOXVILLE – Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz continues to find new ways to showcase his incredible talent behind the wheel of a Sprint car. The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP Gas Booster /Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J produced another record-setting performance Saturday night by racing from 21st to first and winning the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
“It was a fun run,” said Schatz, following his seventh victory in the sport’s signature event. “I just can’t say enough about these STP Gas Booster guys. We didn’t have the combination we wanted on Wednesday or Friday, but this group that surrounds me is second to none. We had a meeting last night after the races and mapped out how we were going to attack tonight. It started with getting through the B-Main. We learned a few things in the B-Main that helped us finalize our game plan to finish the deal.”
Schatz, who became the first driver to ever win the Nationals after transferring through the B-Main, won the 22-lap B-Main with a fourth corner pass on the final lap of Lynton Jeffrey. The Fargo, N.D., native then quickly strategized with crew chief Rick Warner and car chief Steve Swenson on the adjustments needed for the 50-lap A-Main. When the green flag dropped on the $150,000-to-win A-Main, Schatz was on a charge passing cars with regularity during the first 15 laps. By lap 19, he was up to seventh and five laps later, when the race was yellow flagged for a competition pit stop, he was up to fifth. It was exactly where he had hoped to be at that point.
“We were highly motivated after some people may have counted us out,” Schatz said. “This team is unbelievable. I told my guys that if we weren’t in the top-five by the break that we were going to be in trouble. I didn’t expect the track to get abrasive and take rubber like it did, so we were a little bit concerned about the final 26 laps. We knew we had to throw everything we had at it.”
Following the five-minute break, Schatz resumed the quest for his seventh Knoxville Nationals title in the last eight years by picking off cars one by one. On lap 41, he moved past polesitter Brian Brown, who led the first 40 laps, and drove away to score the convincing victory with a 4.093 second advantage.
“This is such a huge accomplishment for everyone involved with Tony Stewart Racing,” said Schatz, who was competing in his 20th Nationals. “Man to get through the field like that after starting from the back. If it was that much fun for me, it had to be that much better for everyone here.”
The victory continued a remarkable Knoxville Nationals run over the past 16 seasons. Schatz earned his seventh victory in the last eight Nationals and 12th top-two finish during that span. The win was his third triumph at the track this season, 14th of the 2013 WoO STP campaign and 18th of his career at the legendary half-mile dirt oval .
Action resumes this week for the TSR teams beginning with Tuesday’s stop Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. That race will be followed by a weekend doubleheader in North Dakota, where Schatz will continue his championship aspirations. He ranks second with 7,105 points and trails leader Daryn Pittman by 71 markers.