KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and his STP team have had a bullseye on their backs at the Sprint car racing’s biggest event for the past nine seasons. And once again, Schatz and the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J where the class of the field in the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series 54th annual FVP Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. Schatz earned the most points in preliminary action and led 49 of the 50 laps to earn his eighth Knoxville Nationals crown in the last nine seasons.
“It means everything to win this race,” said Schatz, following the victory. “A guy can only dream so big. From being on the backstretch as a kid watching Steve (Kinser) and Sammy (Swindell) and Bobby Allen win this race…to be standing up here once let alone as many times as we have is unreal. That STP team I have – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, Eric Prutzman, Bill Klingbeil and bunch of other guys that help us out this week- … they should be standing up here. They are unbelievable. I’ve won this race with most of those guys all eight times, so that says it in itself. It hasn’t quite set in…I felt really good during the race and then all of sudden I saw Brian (Brown) get by me and it was like the world was crumbling around me. I’m glad we were able to get back by him and win the race. This is just a great way to celebrate STP’s 60 years of power and performance. STP has a phenomenal line of products and has been one of the most of the recognizable brands in all of motorsports for a long time. I’m happy to be able to win this for them. I’m also for everybody that is involved with Tony Stewart Racing – Chevrolet Performance, Bad Boy Buggies, and our newest partner Crimsafe. Happy to get them a Knoxville Nationals victory. Without all of their support and relationships, there is no way we could be standing here tonight.”
Schatz began his run for an eighth Knoxville Nationals crown Friday by qualifying second in the field of 53 cars in a specially schemed STP 60th anniversary chromed machine. He proved he was going to be a force by racing from eighth to win the second heat. The Fargo, North Dakota racer finished fourth in the 25-lap preliminary feature and earned 492 points to claim the pole for Saturday’s 50-lap A-Main.
Schatz was out of the gate fast when the green flag waived in Saturday’s finale. He built a lead of nearly three seconds when the race was halted for a mandatory pit stop on lap 25. When the race resumed, Schatz once again pulled out to a commanding lead, but a caution with 10 laps remaining provided the drama the capacity crowd of more than 30,000 was looking for. On the restart, Brian Brown, runner-up to Schatz the previous two seasons, remained close to the bumper of the STP No. 15 and on lap 43, he launched past Schatz coming out of turn two to grab the lead. He would lead next half-mile, but when he went high in turns three and four on lap 44, Schatz muscled his way to the bottom and powered back in front of Brown coming to the flagstand. Schatz would pull away during the final five laps to claim the victory.
“In racing it’s all about making decisions,” continued Schatz, who has finished first or second in 12 of the last 14 Knoxville Nationals A-Mains. “I was getting so slow on the bottom of one and two I thought well if I can keep the tires underneath me, maybe no one is going to get that run, because I just couldn’t get the top going that good and then it kind of got clean off and Brian got by and I was able to get to the bottom in turns three and four and get back by him. I know he is going to be beat me one of these days, I just hope it’s no time soon. He’s a hell of a racer.”
The victory was his 13th of the 2014 WoO STP campaign and 21st of his career on the famed Marion County Fairgrounds, which ties him with 1974 and 1975 Nationals winner Eddie Leavitt to rank 11th all-time in wins at the historic facility.
Action resumes this week for the TSR teams beginning with Tuesday’s stop Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. That race will be followed by a weekend doubleheader in North Dakota, where Schatz will continue his run for a sixth WoO championship. He holds a 118-point advantage over Daryn Pittman.