INDIANAPOLIS (March 19, 2014) – The late Jim Valvano made the phrase “Survive and Advance” popular more than 30 years ago when his North Carolina State Wolfpack made its miraculous run to the NCAA men’s basketball national title in 1983.
With a schedule of 92 races comprising the journey to a World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series championship, there are going to be nights where surviving and advancing is the key for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz. After a string of six consecutive top-five finishes by the five-time champion ended Saturday night, Schatzis poised to perform like No. 1 seeds once again when action continues this Saturday at the Stockton Dirt Track in Central California.
For Schatz, the return to Stockton provides an opportunity to reach a milestone during his 18th season of the competition with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J is trying to become only the fourth driver in WoO history to win 150 A-Features. The Fargo, N.D., racer earned his 149th on March 6 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and, by doing so, became the first repeat winner in 2014.
In last year’s Outlaws debut at Stockton, Schatz qualified sixth and charged his way from 13th to finish third. The STP driver would like to add Stockton to the list of California tracks where he’s been a WoO winner and increase the number of tracks where he’s come out victorious to 63.
Through eight 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series races, Schatz holds the second position in the WoO championship standings, 21 points behind leader Paul McMahan, and heads to Stockton with a series-leading six top-five finishes.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J:
Through eight races, there have been six different winners. Are you surprised to see that number so early in the season?
“I can’t say I’m surprised. I was hoping that there would only be one winner after eight races and that would be the STP team, but I know that’s not being realistic. Early in the season, you see a lot of guys come out and have what it takes to get the job done on a given night. I know the goal of the series is to provide fans with great racing and maybe seeing multiple guys win is a big part of that. We’ve been able to win a couple and felt like we had a couple more where we had a decent shot. At the end of the year, if we can look at the 90 or so races and say that we either won or had a good chance of winning half of the races, we’ll probably be happy.”
Last year at Stockton, you were a man on a mission racing from 13th to third. Can you build on that performance this weekend?
“Every night is a new night with this deal. You never are going to get two tracks identical. I think the key for us last year is we had a car I could drive multiple lanes. A lot of guys were just leaning on the cushion and that ended up biting a couple of guys. I could run up high as well as a little lower. We qualified sixth last year and, with the format, that’s not the best place to be. We’ve been better at qualifying this year, but even last Saturday at Tulare we were fifth after going out really early and it ended up being one spot too good. The STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman) are working hard every night trying to give me a great car every time I hit the track. We’re looking forward to getting back on the track Saturday.”