Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team were seeking a third consecutive World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series victory Friday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway in southeast Indiana. The driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J had won the previous two WoO races at the high-banked, 3/8-mile dirt oval and, after starting 12th, he worked his way into contention before finishing third.
“Tonight was just another example of the phenomenal job this Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance race team does adjusting to the track conditions,” said Schatz, who has clinched the 2015 WoO championship with four nights of racing remaining. “We weren’t as good as we need to be early in the night and Rick (Warner), Steve (Swenson) and Eric (Prutzman) just kept working. The track taking rubber like it did threw us for a little curve — we didn’t expect that to happen. It was a little sketchy there early but we found some places to get up through there. I felt like I was closing in on the leaders but just couldn’t do anything with them once the rubber really locked down. I tried everything I could. Some nights you’re just going to have that so we’ll leave here happy. I can’t thank Tony Stewart and all our partners enough. They give us the opportunity to be out here doing what we love to do. We’ve have had an incredible season and still have some races to win, starting with Port Royal next weekend.”
Schatz led the Outlaws to Lawrenceburg coming off his 31st victory of the season at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York. Friday’s race was originally scheduled for Memorial Day but was postponed following heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Schatz won each of the previous May stops at “The Burg” and began his quest for three in a row by qualifying ninth in the field of 35 cars. The Fargo, North Dakota racer started the opening heat on the outside of the front row and dueled Chad Kemenah for the lead at the start. While the two battled for the position, Kerry Madsen slid under both to grab the top spot. Schatz quickly dispatched Kemenah and then stalked Madsen for the remainder of the 10-lap heat. He closed to within striking distance but couldn’t overtake Madsen and finished second. It was the first time since July 1 at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas that Schatz was not part of the dash.
From the outside of the sixth row, Schatz began the 35-lap A-Feature by diving to the bottom groove entering turn one. He came out of turn two running 10th and, during the next eight laps, he searched for the best way around the rapidly changing dirt surface. He battled with David Gravel and Logan Schuchart for sixth before a restart slowed the action midway through the race. Schatz made his big move following a lap-19 restart while he was running eighth. Schatz hit the bottom of turns one and two perfectly and stormed up to fourth heading down the backstretch and took third coming out of turn four with 15 laps remaining. His sights then became leader Paul McMahan and second-place Shane Stewart. A caution on lap 25 bunched up the field, but a crash on the ensuing restart forced a single-file restart. With a solid lane of rubber three quarters of the way up the track, all Schatz could do over the final eight laps was stay in line. The third-place finish was his 59th top-five of the 2015 WoO campaign.
The TSR team resumes action Saturday at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway and Sunday at Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway. Last October, Schatz finished second to Ryan Smith at Port Royal and earlier this season he dominated the Outlaws A-Feature at Weedsport.