Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz brought home a pair of top-five finishes during World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series action last weekend in Texas. Schatz raced the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J from 13th to fifth Friday in the Outlaws’ debut at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, and challenged for the victory Saturday at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.
“We didn’t end up with the results we were hoping for, but we’re making progress,” Schatz said. “You just have to make the most of every night. Going out early to qualify Friday probably wasn’t the best, but having a middle-of-the-pack number Saturday worked out OK with the circumstances we faced in Baytown. The Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J was good Saturday in the feature. I kept working the middle of the track and got pretty close to Daryn for the lead, but he did a good job and got the victory. I’m proud of my guys for continuing to work hard. We are five races into the season and I’m excited about getting back to the track on Thursday and continuing our progression.”
Schatz, the seven-time and reigning WoO champion, resumed his 20th season competing with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” and, along with 31 other drivers, contested the first WoO race in front of a record crowd. Schatz was the fourth driver to make a qualifying lap and ended up 13th overall. He started fourth and finished in the same position in the opening heat to advance to the 30-lap A-Feature. The Fargo, North Dakota driver spent the first five laps mired in heavy traffic and bounced between positions 13 and 15 before moving from 14thto 10th on lap six. He worked his way to seventh by lap 14 and then finally made it into the top-five on lap 27 by passing Shane Stewart. Schatz spent the final three laps trying to catch Joey Saldana for fourth, but he wasn’t able to make the pass.
Brad Sweet passed his teammate Daryn Pittman on the final lap to take the win.
The Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team traveled east to the Houston area for Saturday’s return to Royal Purple Raceway. It was the series’ first visit since 2011 to the quarter-mile, dirt oval where Schatz had previously scored a pair of victories. Problems with the electronic scoring system during qualifying forced WoO officials to make a change to the program. Cars were lined up by the official draw sheet for heats, which put Schatz fifth in the first heat. He chased Sammy Swindell for the heat-race win and advanced to the dash by finishing second. A third-place finish in the six-lap dash put Schatz in position three on the starting grid for the 40-lap A-Feature. Schatz battled inside the top-five throughout the race and, in typical Schatz fashion, he made a surge during the later stages of the race. He worked the middle groove of the racing surface and pressured leader Pittman late in the race, but couldn’t take the top spot.
With five of 92 events completed, Schatz has earned a victory, three top-fives and four top-10s. He currently ranks fourth with 628 points and trails leader Sweet by 59 markers.
The 2016 WoO campaign continues this week with three races in four nights beginning with the two-night FVP Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Tack at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Thursday and Friday. The series will make its inaugural appearance at Arizona Speedway in Queen Creek Sunday.