During what’s annually viewed as one of the biggest weekends in motorsports, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz was looking to gain some momentum in his quest for a sixth World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series championship. A pair of single-night races bookended the holiday weekend with stops at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (N.C.) Speedway Friday and Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway Monday. The results were nearly a clean sweep for the five-time WoO champion as he drove the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J to a second-place finish Friday and his fourth victory of the season Monday.
The Dirt Track at Charlotte has been a personal stomping ground for Schatz over the past decade. The Fargo, North Dakota driver has been extremely successful circling the 4/10-mile clay oval. He set the pace early Friday by topping the qualifying charts and then racing from fourth to first in the opening heat. When the six pill was pulled for the dash inversion, his job became tougher, but the seven-time Charlotte WoO winner surged from sixth to second in the six-lap race. In the 30-lap A-Feature, Schatz stalked early leader Joey Saldana for the first seven circuits before taking the lead with a pass coming out of turn two on lap eight. Schatz crossed the start-finish line moments before a spinning car brought out a caution. Officials deemed only Schatz crossed the line, which resulted in the restart being based on the running order from the previous lap. Schatz made several runs at Saldana but wasn’t able to execute another move for the lead and finished second.
After traveling from North Carolina back to their respective shops in Indiana, both TSR teams were poised for better results Monday. Schatz retuned to Lawrenceburg as the most recent WoO winner at the 3/8-mile high-banked, dirt oval. He was again fast in qualifying and ended up second in the field of 36. He raced to third in heat two and fourth in the dash to set the stage for the 35-lap A-Feature. Schatz was able to get a solid start, but caution flags every couple of laps slowed his progress. After a red flag for a multicar accident, Schatz charged from fourth to second and then patiently worked on leader Sammy Swindell. A caution with 19 laps down slowed the action again, but Schatz was up to the task on the restart and made his move for the lead through the middle of turns one and two. He pulled away from Swindell and built a four-second lead before a final caution slowed the race on lap 32. Schatz pulled away from Swindell on the restart and won his third WoO A-Feature in his last four starts at the track and fourth overall in 2014. The victory was also his 151st career WoO A-Feature, moving him to within two of Hoosier native Mark Kinser’s 153, which ranks third all-time in WoO history.
The consistency allowed Schatz to close in on leader Daryn Pittman in the 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship standings. Schatz has accumulated 4,383 points and trails Pittman by 10 points. Saldana is currently four points behind Pittman. Schatz has four wins, 20 top-fives and 28 top-10s in 31 starts.
This week, the STP teams close out a busy month of May with races Friday at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park and Saturday at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan.