Sometimes the difference in a race’s outcome is all about timing. More times than not during the 2015 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series campaign, Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz has worked his way into being in the right place at the right time.
In front of a capacity crowd Saturday at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota, it looked like he had driven his way into perfect position to score a WoO A-Feature victory 25 laps into the 35-lap race. Just moments after taking the lead from Brad Sweet, an untimely yellow flag came out and negated the pass for the lead. Despite attempting every possible move to regain the lead thereafter, the driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J wasn’t able to get past Sweet and finished second for the fourth time in seven career starts at Deer Creek and the 15th time this season.
“We did the best we could to get Tony Stewart, Bad Boy Buggies and Chevrolet Performance a victory tonight,” said Schatz, who has earned a series-best 29 WoO A-Feature wins this season. “You can’t control the yellows coming out, but we still had other chances to take the lead. I don’t know if lapped traffic was the issue or if maybe we went for it one lap too soon. We’ll never know for sure, but my Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance guys did a good job all night. We found the rubber coming in on the track when it cleaned up there at the end and my car was good.”
Schatz continued his remarkable 19th season on tour with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” with another consistent performance from start to finish. The six-time and reigning WoO champion qualified third in the field of 27 cars, and finished third in both heat three and the dash. He started inside of row two and held third behind Daryn Pittman and Sweet before an early caution resulted in a double-file restart. Pittman chose the high line and Schatz got bottled up and dropped back to sixth and ultimately eighth. Schatz stayed patient and took advantage of another restart with 14 laps remaining, advancing from seventh to second by lap 24 and into the lead a lap later when Sweet bounced off the turn-two wall. The caution waved and put Schatz back to second and he spent the final nine laps trying every move possible on the 3/8-mile, dirt oval to get him back in front.
The finish pushed the points lead to 452 markers for Schatz over Shane Stewart with 13 races remaining in the season. It was the 44th time in 67 starts that Schatz has finished either first or second.
Following the race, the TSR team returned to its Brownsburg, Indiana shop for the first time in almost eight weeks. The team will spend the week preparing for a doubleheader in Ohio and Michigan this weekend. Friday night, the WoO returns to Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Schatz swept the Outlaws’ two races at “The Big E” in May before finishing second in the Knight Before the Kings Royal and sixth in the Kings Royal in July. Schatz will lead the Outlaws back to Berlin Speedway in Marne, Michigan Saturday for the second-ever appearance at the track. Last September, Schatz led 29 of 30 laps to score the inaugural WoO victory.