After winning two of the first five World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series races of the 2014 season, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz headed to California with a lot of momentum. Consistency through the first six races of the Outlaws California Spring Break Tour has pushed the five-time WoO champion to the top of the standings heading into this weekend’s California finales Friday at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway.
The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J has earned three top-four finishes in his California starts. A runner-up finish at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare kicked off the tour and he narrowly missed earning his third WoO A-Feature of the season at the Stockton Dirt Track the following week. Last weekend at Calistoga, Schatz took the lead in the championship standings after finishing fourth in Friday’s opener, and his goal for this weekend is to close the run through the Golden State with a pair of wins.
Schatz returns to Kings Speedway as the most recent Outlaw winner at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval located in central California. Last year’s stop by the Outlaws marked the first time they contested an A-Feature at the facility since 2003. Schatz was solid all night, qualifying third and finishing third in the dash before he swapped the lead early in the 35-lap A-Feature with Tim Kaeding and through the middle stages with Chad Kemenah. The Fargo, N.D., racer would lead the final 14 laps and collect his first win at the track in his 12th career start.
The STP team carried the momentum from the Kings victory to Perris the following night and turned in another solid performance. Schatz won the opening heat and earned the pole position in the 30-lap A-Feature after winning the six-lap dash. For the second consecutive night, he would battle Kaeding for the lead early before falling to third 10 laps into the race. In the end, he chased eventual winner Daryn Pittman and Kaeding to the stripe. The third-place finish was his best result at the half-mile, semi-banked clay oval.
Through 12 of the schedule 92 nights of WoO races, Schatz leads the championship standings with 1,688 points. His two wins ranks second to Brad Sweet’s three and his eight top-five finishes leads the series. Last season entering the Kings-Perris weekend, Schatz trailed Pittman by 155 points, and the team’s goal is to leave California still on top of the standings after this weekend’s doubleheader.
Friday at Kings Speedway, the grandstands open at 5 p.m. PDT. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For Saturday’s race in Perris, the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit dirtcar.ticketforce.com/ordertickets.asp?p=447, or call (877) 395-8606.
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 Sprint 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/Crimsafe J&J:
The California Spring Break Tour concludes this weekend with races at Kings Speedway and Perris Auto Speedway. Last year, you had good results at both tracks to close the tour. Would a duplicate performance this year make the California tour a success?
“We need to win races to be successful. Last year, we had a pretty inconsistent run through California until that final weekend. This year has been a little different. We’ve had some races where we felt like, going into the A-Feature, we had a good shot at winning but came up a little short. That’s motivation for me and all of the STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman) to keep working hard every night. Last year, we had a really good night at Hanford and had fun racing those guys for the lead early, but I remember more not being happy with finishing third at Perris. We had a really good package in the heat and dash, but in the feature Tim and Daryn were able to drive away from us. I’m not exactly sure what results we would need to call this year’s California Tour a success. It’s always been about wins, so I guess if we can win both races, we’ll call the weekend a success.”
The season has a dozen races in the books. Are you where you thought you might be right now when the season began?
“I’d say we’re a little behind where we hoped to be. We finished last year on such a good roll and planned on continuing that. We’ve had two races in 12 where we couldn’t crack the top-10 but, other than that, we’ve been competitive. Our qualifying is getting better and now we’re trying to race better. We’ve made the most of some nights when things didn’t go our way and have let some good opportunities get away from us a couple of times, too. You are going to have that during a long season. Experience pays off in this long journey. You are only as good as your last race and we finished ninth on Sunday, so that’s where we are at. We’ll put in the time this week to give ourselves the best chance to win at Hanford and Perris and then turn the focus toward El Paso and Devil’s Bowl. We’re hoping to be better the next 12 races and continue improving as the season goes along.”