The stakes are about to get higher in the rugged World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series, and that’s just fine with Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz. Schatz is one of the most decorated drivers in Sprint car racing history and has had some of their most memorable performances in the highest-profile events.
Wednesday begins a stretch of 17 race nights over 32 days, including a number of signature events in what’s become known as Sprint car racing’s “Month of Money.” The 26th annual Ohio Logistics Brad Doty Classic presented by Racing Optics kicks off the festivities at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio and will be followed by the biggest Sprint car event of the season at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The 31st annual Kings Royal weekend includes a complete show Friday – The Knight Before the Kings Royal – and Saturday’s program culminates with a 40-lap A-Feature that pays $50,000 to the winner and includes a post-race crowning of the race winner.
Schatz heads to Lima with the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J as the defending Brad Doty Classic winner and a Kings Royal champion as well. The five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion is a two-time winner of both events, taking the Kings Royal crown in 2007 and 2009 and the Doty race in 2011 and last season.
Before his victory at Lima in 2011, Schatz was missing a Brad Doty Classic title on his impressive list of accomplishments. He was able to check that off his list of races to win by leading the final eight laps en route to victory. Last July, Schatz was again the man to beat after starting third and dropping back as far as sixth. He charged forward through the field to take the lead on lap 24 and built a nearly three-second lead before a caution allowed the competition to catch up. He fended off several challenges late in the race to join Danny Smith, Dale Blaney and Kinser as the only two-time Brad Doty Classic winners.
The 1996 Kings Royal may have been a breakout performance for Schatz, who was only 18 years old on that memorable July night. He was in the midst of a championship season with the WISSOTA Sprint Car Series and surprised many by not only making the field of 24, but also by finishing eighth in his Kings Royal debut. Schatz won the WoO Rookie honors the following season and has been taking on the famous Eldora highbanks ever since. His first Eldora win came in August 2002, when he pocketed $100,000 for taking the Historical Big One, and the Fargo, North Dakota driver made it two wins in a row by scoring a WoO preliminary win in April 2003. His first WoO A-Feature triumph came in the 2007 Kings Royal, when he accepted the first-place check from Stewart just weeks before he would officially sign to become a part of TSR. Schatz won WoO A-Features at Eldora in May 2008 and 2009 before winning his second Kings Royal in July 2009. He’s finished inside the top-five in seven of the last eight Kings Royals, including last year when he ran second for most of the race before finishing third.
The Brad Doty Classic will be night number 46 of the 92 scheduled WoO race nights on the 2014 schedule. Schatz leads the championship standings by 73 points over Daryn Pittman and has won eight times, earned 29 top-fives and 39 top-10s.
Wednesday at Limaland Raceway Park, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT, with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call (419) 998-3199, or visit www.limaland.com.
On Friday at Eldora Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. EDT, with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For Saturday’s Kings Royal program, the pit gates will open at noon with the grandstands opening at 2 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. More details are available by calling Eldora Speedway at (937) 338-3815, or visit www.eldoraspeedway.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/Crimsafe J&J:
You’ve won two of the last three Brad Doty Classics at Lima. Will you and the STP return for Wednesday’s race with the same strategy?
“We’ve got the same strategy every night. We want to be fast in hot laps, qualify well and give ourselves a chance to win. Winning the Brad Doty Classic two times in the last three years doesn’t really give us an advantage, but we’re happy that we’ve done it and are on the T-shirt. It’s always one of the toughest races because there are so many cars and you have to get your car working all over the track. You have to be able to run the cushion, the bottom and the middle. The STP team (crew chief Rick Warner, car chief Steve Swenson and crewman Eric Prutzman) has done a great job of fine tuning our car and keep getting it better. Last year, we weren’t anything special in the heat race or the dash, but they found something for the feature and I was able to drive right up through there. Our goal will be the same when we get there. We’ll try to continue qualifying well and try to give ourselves a chance to be there at the end.”
The list of wins you have during Sprint car racing’s “Month of Money” is pretty impressive. How does the experience of winning one of the sport’s biggest races help you and your team heading into a race like the Kings Royal?
“It certainly helps you have a game plan. We always look at each race the same but, when you walk through the gates at those big events, you know it’s something more. When you are trying to win something for the first time, you just keep trying things until you figure it out. Once you’ve done it, the pressure really shifts from having to figure out how to win to being more about wanting to do it again. It’s not something that you can really explain but something you simply have to experience. We all look forward to the opportunity to race in events like the Kings Royal. That’s what it’s all about. A capacity crowd, great field of cars and the chance to be crowned at the end of the night. It’s been a while since I got to walk up on that stage and get the crown put on me. I know the STP guys are doing everything they can, so we can have a good shot at it Saturday.”