INDIANAPOLIS (April 20, 2016) – One of the most important lessons Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz learned during his rookie season with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series in 1997 was respecting the opportunity to race in a series founded by the ultimate Sprint car fan, the late Ted Johnson. In this, his 20th season of competing with “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” Schatz continues to appreciate his opportunity to compete as an Outlaw at dirt tracks all across the country and have the chance to build his legacy in the sport.
Schatz, the seven-time and reigning WoO champion, leads the Outlaws to Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, the site of their inaugural race back in March 1978, as the defending champion of the Ted Johnson Memorial. The driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J enters the two-night Texas Outlaw Nationals tied for the lead in WoO A-Feature victories this season with five and is looking to make it three consecutive seasons with wins at Devil’s Bowl.
One of many lures that attracts drivers to competing with the Outlaws is the opportunity to compete not only with high-caliber drivers and teams, but to venture to historic dirt ovals all across the country. For the first six seasons of his Outlaw career, Schatz competed at the half-mile, dirt oval twice annually, racing in the Spring Nationals early and Winter Nationals late in the season. In his first Outlaw race in March 1997, Schatz made an impression by qualifying sixth in the field of 50 cars. The following season, he raced wheel-to-wheel with Steve Kinser for the Spring Nationals victory before ultimately finishing second.
Schatz broke through to claim his first win at Devil’s Bowl – it was his historic 150th career WoO A-Feature win – two seasons ago when the Outlaws returned to the track following an 11-year hiatus. He raced past early leader Wayne Johnson on lap 11 and led the final laps of the 25-lap A-Feature to capture the win. Last April, Schatz outdueled Shane Stewart, leading the first seven and final 14 circuits of the 30-lap Ted Johnson Memorial, to claim one of his career-best 31 WoO A-Feature victories in a single season.
The Outlaws begin their invasion through Middle America with 17 races completed in the 2016 campaign. The traveling Sprint car stars began the season in Florida during Speedweeks and followed that with two races in Texas before a trio of races in Las Vegas and Arizona. Monday’s race in Tucson followed the Outlaws’ annual spring run through California. Schatz also ventured to Devil’s Bowl last spring with five wins, and he’s coming off a second-place finish Monday at USA Raceway in Tucson. The finish was his 11th top-five of the season and he currently ranks third in the championship standings with 2,296 points, 99 behind leader Brad Sweet.
For Friday and Saturday’s races, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. CDT while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit devilsbowl.com or call 972-222-2421.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can watch both nights of action through pay-per-view or listen free as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
In this, your 20th season of competing with the World of Outlaws, what is it like to return to some of the places like Devils Bowl, where you competed regularly early in your career?
“I was excited a couple of years ago when we were able to come back to Devil’s Bowl. When I first started racing with the Outlaws, I was trying to learn as much as I could in order to stay out here. I didn’t have much time to think about big picture things, like the history and tradition. I knew it was a historic place. Coming back here in 2014 and being able to finally win and add my name to the likes of Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell and Doug Wolfgang, three of my heroes, as a Devil’s Bowl winner was pretty awesome. It was also special to win with Kenny Woodruff at the track. He won that first Outlaw race as a crew chief with Jimmy Boyd and he spent a couple of seasons as my crew chief early in my career. There are a lot of Sprint car fans in Texas and Oklahoma and we raced in the region quite a bit early in my career. It’s been good the past couple of years going back into those areas and having some races. I know I appreciate the chance to return to some of the tracks that really paved the way for me to be doing what I love to do.”
Since racing at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in early March, most of your races have been on the smaller tracks. Are you looking forward to getting back on a bigger half-mile, dirt track this weekend?
“We’re excited to get on a big track. That’s one of the things with the World of Outlaws that challenges you. You have to be able to succeed on all sorts of track sizes and conditions. We lost two races at Calistoga, which is a bigger track, to rain, and we were hoping to try some things there. We’ll get the chance to work on some things at Devils Bowl. It’s big and fast. The track can change pretty quickly, but that’s where having an experienced team like this Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance crew comes in. My guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti – work extremely hard between races to make sure we are ready for anything that might come at us on race night, and I’ll say they are the best in the business at getting a car better as the night goes on. We’re really looking forward to the weekend and doing everything we can do in order to have a couple chances of coming out victorious at Devils Bowl.”