INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 9, 2015) – Eighteen years ago, Donny Schatz was a 21-year-old second-year World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series racer chasing legends Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell around a quarter-mile dirt oval in western central Oregon. It was a night he will always remember because racing with the Outlaws was his dream and, on that particular August night back in 1998, he drove past them to win his first career WoO A-Feature. Monday night at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Washington, Schatz accomplished something he never dreamed of. Schatz was first to the checkers again and joined the two legends as the only drivers in the series’ 38-year history to win 200 WoO A-Feature events.
“I never thought I could dream big enough to be part of this sport’s history,” Schatz said following his 200th career WoO A-Feature victory. “This is unbelievable. I’ve been blessed to be around great people my whole life. My family has supported me wholeheartedly to this point and these guys I get to race with are awesome. Without their hard work, and all the guys who ever worked for me, there’s no way I would have ever gotten this far.”
The driver of the Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing (TSR) No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J knew he was getting close to reaching win number 200, but he wasn’t quite sure Monday night was going to be the night. The six-time and reigning WoO champion was in the midst of another typical night where he qualified well, advanced through his heat race and climbed to within striking distance of race-leader Paul McMahan late in the 30-lap A-Feature. Throughout his career Schatz has been a master of working lapped traffic and he admitted following the victory that he needed lapped traffic to have a chance. McMahan pulled away from Schatz during a late restart and seemed destined to delay the celebration for Schatz and his team. With three laps to go, McMahan encountered slower cars and Schatz took advantage. While McMahan got bottled up, Schatz grabbed the lead and raced away to score his 27th win of the 2015 season and historic 200th career WoO A-Feature triumph.
Schatz joked in victory lane that he knew he was close to getting his historic win and had thoughts about the irony of winning it tonight when the Outlaws return to Cottage Grove (Ore.) Speedway, the track where he earned his first victory, but he followed that up by saying he’s a racer and he wanted to get that milestone victory as quickly as he could. The North Dakota native admits that milestone victories always seem to be the toughest. Whether it was that first one back in 1998, trying to crack the top-five list of all-time winners with 70 back in 2007, or reaching 100 in his home state of North Dakota back in 2009, they are always a challenge. That continued in July 2011 as he passed his childhood hero Doug Wolfgang in WoO wins, and again last June when he moved into third all-time with his 154th victory to pass his mentor Mark Kinser.
Now the focus becomes win number 201 and adding to a new career-high in wins during a season that he established with Monday’s victory. It’s the third consecutive season Schatz has established a new career high. In 2013, he won 23 WoO A-Features, and last year he put 26 in the win column. Entering the 2015 season, Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team set high goals for wins and earning another WoO championship.
With 19 races remaining in the season, including tonight’s annual stop at Cottage Grove that starts a stretch of four races in the next five nights, the team is closing in on both goals, but there still is plenty of work to do. Schatz has finished first or second in 41 of the first 62 races this season and has built a 422-point lead in the championship standings. Schatz, a two-time winner at Cottage Grove –1998 and 2008 – will then lead the Outlaws back to California for this weekend’s 62nd annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Schatz won the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar in March but hasn’t won the prestigious Gold Cup since 2004. The annual West Coast swing comes to a close Sunday at Antioch (Calif.) Speedway, one of only seven tracks on the current WoO schedule where Schatz has yet to win.
Tonight at Cottage Grove, the grandstands open at 2 p.m. PDT. Hot laps are schedule to begin at 5 p.m. and racing to start at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit cottagegrovespeedway.com or call 360-699-RACE.
For both nights at Silver Dollar Speedway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. PDT and grandstands open at 5 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit silverdollarspeedway.com or call 530-891-6535.
Sunday at Antioch Speedway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. PDT and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit antiochspeedway.com or call 925-779-9220.
Race fans unable to attend this week’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 towww.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 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
After winning your historic 200th WoO A-Feature, there was a lot of emotion in your voice. Now two days later, has it sunk in just how big of an accomplishment that victory was at Grays Harbor Raceway Monday night?
“It’s been incredible hearing from so many people. It’s the people who make this special. Ted Johnson had a vision to create the World of Outlaws and I’m so blessed my parents gave me the opportunity to chase a dream. I’m so thankful Ted Johnson believed in me. We had a lot of talks early in my career and he had to help point me in the right direction more than a time or two. I’ve been so fortunate to be around great people all of my career. I’ve learned something from all of them. So, yeah, it’s kind of sunk in, but now it’s back to work. We have another race to focus on and I know my guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman – are looking at it as another opportunity. We want to be the ones leaving Oregon with the trophy. The numbers are what they are. We just won our 27th race of the year but that doesn’t give us any advantage the rest of the week or season. We have to work harder and harder to continue being in position to win these races and that’s what we are going to do.”
After closing out the Northwest part of the tour in Oregon, you will return to California. The results of your spring run through California were the best of your career. How confident are you that you can continue that pace this weekend?
“The success we had in the spring was the result of hard work by everyone on this team. One of our goals to start the season was to be better at places where we didn’t have the results we felt like we needed to be having. California in the spring was a prime example. The guys did their homework, worked really hard when we made the run through there this spring and the results followed. We’re heading back to Chico for the Gold Cup. We haven’t won it in quite a few years and we’re working to change that this weekend.”