The Donny Schatz Express continued Saturday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, New York as the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver won his third consecutive World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series A-Feature at the 5/8-mile dirt oval and his 31st victory of the 2015 season.
Schatz and TSR’s Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team are in the midst of an incredible season and Saturday night’s triumph tied the team with Steve Kinser’s 1992 campaign for third-most single-season wins in series history. The victory also continued his mastery of the state of New York this season. Schatz has been victorious in each of the Outlaws’ three stops in New York this season – Weedsport Speedway in May, Lebanon Valley Raceway in July and Saturday’s annual stop at Rolling Wheels.
“We’ve had a great season and I’m really proud to be part of such an incredible team,” said Schatz, who clinched his seventh WoO championship last week. “Tony Stewart, Bad Boy Buggies, Chevrolet Performance – they are the ones who make it possible for us to come out here and race. I’m surrounded by great people – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, and Eric Prutzman – doing an awesome job with the car. They make the decisions. They’re learning things right now and that’s really encouraging for the guy driving it, that’s for sure.”
Thirty cars made up the Rolling Wheels field and Schatz was the ninth driver to turn a qualifying lap. The racing surface was extremely fast and Paul McMahan established a new world record for speed in a Sprint car on dirt reaching at 145.527 mph during his qualifying run. Schatz wasn’t quite that fast, but he was one of eight drivers who posted a time under the previous track record. Schatz qualified fifth and followed that by finishing second in heat two. The Fargo, North Dakota racer shared the front row with David Gravel in the six-lap dash and finished second to earn the same starting spot in the 25-lap A-Feature. Gravel got the jump on Schatz at the start and led the race for the first 10 laps. During those opening laps, Schatz searched the track for the best lines in both corners while pursing Gravel. A low move through turns one and two on lap 12 turned out to be the winning one as Schatz raced the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J into the lead. Once in front, Schatz seized the opportunity and stretched his lead over the next seven laps. With five laps remaining, Schatz was in complete control and paced the field to the checkered flag.
“David set a really good pace there at the start,” Schatz said. “Once we got to traffic, my car could move around where I could change my line a little bit. Later in the race, the track definitely changed a bunch. That’s what I needed to happen for us to get the win. We talked about what we thought the track was going to do before the feature and the guys put another great car under me. We are extremely happy to get another win tonight. New York has been really good to us. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks and, hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Schatz entered the weekend after a second-place finish in the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania Oct. 4. It was his 16th runner-up finish of 2015 and, for the eighth time this year, he followed up a second-place finish with a victory. Through 71 races, Schatz has finished in the top-two 47 times, has been inside the top-five in 58 starts, and has earned 66 top-10s. Schatz has pushed his insurmountable lead in the championship standings to 511 points over Shane Stewart and, by leading the final 13 laps Saturday night, has led a series-best 601 laps this season.
The victory not only continued the best season in Schatz’s 19-year WoO career, but was his second in four starts carrying a splash of pink on the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J. In appreciation for Chevrolet’s continued support of TSR’s World of Outlaws programs, the team is joining the push to promote breast cancer awareness. 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 TSR team is encouraging fans to join the cause and spread awareness through social media with images of the car and Schatz using the hashtag #IDriveFor.
The Outlaws’ final Midwest race of 2015 is up next, when “The Greatest Show on Dirt” returns to Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway. Schatz will be looking for win number 32 on the season as the most recent winner at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval, having won both in May 2013 and 2014.