INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 12, 2014) – The quest to become a six-time World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series champion begins for Donny Schatz this weekend at the 43rd Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
The Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver and his STP team have spent the last 90 days building an arsenal of equipment to back up their 23-win campaign in 2013 and position themselves to be fighting for that coveted title when the dust settles in November. After finishing second in the championship standings by 14 points, Schatz is determined to keep the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J in contention for wins during a season that includes 85 nights of racing at 54 tracks in 24 states and three Canadian provinces.
The Fargo, N.D. racer has been busy racing since the end of last season, winning six times in 10 starts. He was victorious in New Zealand and Australia and also competed in a handful of Dirt Late Model races in Arizona. He’ll make his first Sprint car start of the season on American soil at Volusia, a fast, half-mile dirt oval where speed is vital. Success at Volusia hasn’t been a problem for Schatz during the last nine season-opening weekends. He won five of the 25 WoO events held at the track and finished inside the top-five 15 times. Last season, he raced from 22nd to eighth in the opener, drove from eighth to third before being involved in an accident with his TSR teammate Steve Kinser in race two, and charged from 14th to fourth in the finale. He’ll be looking for his 148th career WoO A-Feature triumph when action begins Friday.
Schatz also has five career All-Star wins at Volusia, including his first career All-Star victory in 2006 and a memorable run from last to first to begin the 2009 season. The TSR No. 15 will be in action Wednesday and Thursday with the DIRTcar Nationals beginning with a pair of All-Star Circuit of Champions-sanctioned races prior to three complete WoO events Friday through Sunday.
TSR’s STP/Armor All crew is once again led by crew chief Rick Warner, who begins his ninth season working with Schatz. Car chief Steve Swenson, who has been with TSR since 2006, starts his fifth season working on the No. 15. Eric Prutzman, a TSR crewman since 2009, will assist with general maintenance duties.
For all five races at Volusia Speedway Park, the pit gates open at 1 p.m. EST and the grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the race weekend can be purchased by calling Volusia Speedway Park at (386) 985-4402. For more information on the event, visit www.DIRTcarNationals.com.
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 updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
Looking back at last year’s World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series campaign, you and your STP team won 23 races and the next closest competitor had nine wins. Does that give you a lot of confidence heading into this season?
“Last season is over and everyone is back at zero, as far as wins go. We’re heading to Florida looking to get that first one. I believe getting the first one is always the toughest. This TSR team is made up of some of the best people in the business. We have the results we do because of how hard everyone works. We have fun. We continue to strive to get better and better. We approach every year with the same goal of winning the most races. Last year, we had a remarkable season, won more races that I ever have in a season. We didn’t get the championship, so there’s a fire burning inside all of us. I’m excited about getting on the track and trying to continue performing at a high level.”
You are beginning your 18th season as a full-time member of the World of Outlaws. Do you still get butterflies heading into a season?
“I may be a little older but I still get really pumped up for the season to begin. When I was a kid, racing Sprint cars was a dream and I never could have imagined that I’d be able to be part of the World of Outlaws. My parents gave me that chance and there have been so many people who helped make it all a reality. We’ve worked really hard to reach this point and I’m still having fun. I am surrounded by outstanding people at TSR. We have great relationships with our marketing partners STP, Armor All, Crimsafe, and we work with the best manufacturers in the business. I know I’m excited about the season and they all are, as well.”
Once again, the WoO season begins at Volusia. What are your immediate goals for the season-opening weekend?
“We just want to come out of the box just as fast as we ended last season. We have been down here a week and were able to do some testing. The guys have worked really hard in the shop while I was racing, and it showed last week in the test that they are really determined. As a driver, you want to reward their hard work by getting to victory lane as fast as you can. We had a little bit of bad luck last year at Volusia, and we’re focused on getting off to a better start in the Outlaw schedule this season.”