GRAND FORKS, N.D. – June 20, 2014 – It seems only fitting that in his native North Dakota, Donny Schatz achieved a milestone moment on Friday night at River Cities Speedway when he earned the 153rd World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of his career, tying him with Mark Kinser for third all-time behind only Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell.
On an “edge-of-your-seat” kind of night, with battles for position seemingly on every inch of the bullring, Kerry Madsen dominated the 40-lapper early, then Cody Darrah surged to the front in heavy traffic, and finally Schatz and Darrah raced side-by-side before Schatz slid in front with two laps to go and held on for the emotional win.
“It wasn’t pretty, I know that,” said Schatz, who was born in Minot, N.D., and resides in Fargo, about an hour-and-a-half south of River Cities. “It was on two wheels, no wheels, it was kind of all over the place. I was kind of nervous there the first part, I just could not get the thing to roll the corners very well. This STP crew, I can’t say enough about them. They’re unbelievable. We got qualifying a lot better. Generally we race a lot better, but tonight it wasn’t that way. They did a great job, they deserve this. They kept digging and let me have a little fun and we got the victory.”
Schatz, who was pulling double-duty at the track by also racing a dirt late model on Friday night, topped qualifying for only the third time this season in his Tony Stewart Racing STP/Armor All car. An eight-car invert in the dash forced him to dig hard, leading to a fifth-place dash finish and setting him up for a big push forward in the A-main, eventually moving in front for good on lap 39.
The victory, his sixth this season, is just the latest milestone for Schatz, who at only 36 is one of the top sprint car drivers in history. Among his 153 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victories and five championships, he has seven Knoxville Nationals titles, a record five National Open victories at Williams Grove, four Silver Cup wins at Lernerville Speedway, two Kings Royal crowns at Eldora Speedway, and a Gold Cup Race of Champions victory at Silver Dollar Speedway.
“I enjoy them all, but I got to pass one of my heroes on the win list tonight,” said Schatz, who will go for his 154th win on Saturday night at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minn. “It’s kind of heart-breaking really. When you get to a milestone, it’s like crossing a bridge. You get to it and you never know if you’re going to get to the other side. Every time I get to one of them it’s like I stop, I can’t get across the bridge. It’s going to be a hell of a long time before I cross another one so we can just have fun from here on out.”
Steve Kinser has a record 577 victories and Sammy Swindell has 293 wins.