INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 23, 2015) – Donny Schatz is nearing the end of a career-best season behind the wheel of the Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing (TSR) No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J, but there is still work to be done in the rugged World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series.
With 72 races in the books, the North Dakota racer and Indiana-based TSR team continue to face all challengers and challenges head on. This weekend’s challengers are the famous “Pennsylvania Posse,” and the challenge is two-fold. First priority is to end a string of four consecutive runner-up finishes in Pennsylvania and, secondly, to continue a four-race winning streak in the state of New York.
Schatz, who clinched his seventh WoO title with his second-place finish Oct. 4 at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, leads the Outlaws into action Saturday at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway and Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway Sunday.
In his eighth season driving for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, the 19-year WoO veteran is in the midst of his best season behind the wheel of a Sprint car. Schatz has tallied numbers that haven’t been posted in more than 20 WoO seasons. He won his 31st WoO A-Feature of 2015 two weeks ago at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, New York. It was his 80th triumph since the start of the 2013 season and it tied Schatz with 20-time WoO champion Steve Kinser’s 1992 WoO campaign for third-most wins ever in a WoO season. Kinser holds the two best seasons for wins with 46 in 1987 and 36 in 1991.
With an opportunity in front of him to register the third-best season for victories outright, Schatz is focused on winning at Port Royal as the Outlaws stage a late-October race there for the second consecutive season. Last season’s appearance by “The Greatest Show on Dirt” at the half-mile, dirt oval was the first since 2004, when Schatz raced to his 25th career WoO victory. He nearly made it consecutive wins at “The Port” as he stalked Ryan Smith during the latter half of the 30-lap A-Feature but he wasn’t able to make a move for the lead. It was his 14th runner-up finish of 2014. This season, Schatz has finished second 17 times, including four consecutive times in the Keystone State.
Following Saturday’s venture to Port Royal, the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team will travel 235 miles north to Weedsport Speedway for the Outlaws’ second 2015 appearance at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval. In May, Schatz completed a Pennsylvania-New York weekend sweep by leading all 30 laps in his first race at the facility. The victory was his second straight Empire State triumph and he returns to Weedsport looking to complete the 2015 sweep of New York after also winning at Lebanon Valley Speedway in July and his most recent triumph at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.
The 2015 season has been a remarkably consistent one for Schatz and his TSR team made up of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman. With 47 top-two finishes and only five outside the top-10 all season, the team holds a 509-point lead in the championship standings with four races remaining. Only seven times in the series’ 38-year history has a team won the championship by more than 500 markers. One stat that cannot be overlooked is the 175 consecutive races without a DNF (Did Not Finish). Schatz is four races away from finishing his second consecutive season making every lap of every A-Feature.
The weekend is also another opportunity for Schatz and the TSR No. 15 team to help promote breast cancer awareness. For the past five races, Schatz has worn a special firesuit and pink gloves behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J with pink stripes on the black-and-white machine as part of TSR’s appreciation for Chevrolet’s continued support of TSR’s winged-Sprint-car racing teams. Anyone interested in donating to Chevrolet’s 2015 pink initiative is encouraged to visit www.cancer.org/chevroletmsabc and follow the interactive steps to contribute.The team is also encouraging fans to join the cause and spread awareness through social media with images of the car and Schatz using the hashtag #IDriveFor.
Schatz is coming off a third-place finish Friday night at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, where he started 12th and added to his season stat line that reads 31 wins, 58 top-fives, and 66 top-10s.
Saturday at Port Royal Speedway, the pit gate and grandstands open at 2 p.m. EDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. More details are available by calling Port Royal Speedway at (717) 527-2303, or by visiting portroyalspeedway.com.
For Sunday’s race at Weedsport Speedway, the pit gate opens at 1 p.m. EDT and grandstand opens at 2 p.m. EDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. More details are available by calling Weedsport Speedway at (315) 834-3067, or by visiting weedsportspeedway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all 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:
The 2015 season is down to four races. How important is it for you and your Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team to finish with a flurry?
“We know we only have four more chances to race this year and you always want to win everything you can. The approach for us has always been about getting to that next race, improving on our last performance and having a chance to win. You can’t dwell on what has already happened. That’s the great part about this sport: there is always another race, most of the time. You get to this point in the season and you know there aren’t many left. It’s been a great season. We won a lot of races. We’ve clinched the championship. We have four more chances to win and we want to do our best each night.”
You made your first start at Port Royal last fall in almost a decade and, earlier this year, you made your first career start at Weedsport. What is your approach to a track where you don’t have a lot of experience?
“The best thing we can do is be prepared for what we think a track is going to do. Dirt-track racing is never the same from one night to the next, no matter what. This Tony Stewart Racing team has a ton of experience and we all work together as the night goes on. We had a pretty good run last year at The Port, but was the track anything like it was 10 years ago when we won? I don’t really think so. You just have to keep watching the times, the lines guys are using and then, hopefully, you get a chance to get yourself as good as you can in the heat race and dash so you are at your best during the feature. We enjoy the challenge and work really hard to get better every time we race. Running second last fall or winning at Weedsport earlier this year doesn’t guarantee us anything this weekend. We are going to have to be on our game from the start of the night to the end of the night if we want to have a chance at winning.”