INDIANAPOLIS (April 28, 2016) – Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and his Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team take on a pair of high-banked, dirt ovals this weekend as the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series makes its way into the Midwest for the first time in 2016. The seven-time and reigning WoO champion continues his 20th season of competing with the Outlaws Friday night at the Salina (Okla.) Highbanks and Saturday at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Missouri.
Schatz and his TSR team are in the midst of a five-race run through Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri and the driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J is looking to become the first driver in 2016 to win six A-Features. Beginning with his most recent win April 2, when he charged from 14th to victory in the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California, Schatz has finished inside the top-five in six of seven races and has been the KSE Hard Charger in three of those main events.
If he can find his way to victory lane Friday night, Salina Highbanks will become the 76th different track where Schatz has scored an A-Feature triumph. The Fargo, North Dakota racer has earned 209 career WoO A-Feature wins and is hoping No. 210 comes in his fifth-ever visit to the 3/8-mile, dirt oval located in northeast Oklahoma. His best result at the facility came in his debut back in April 2011. Schatz started 18th and charged his way to second in the 30-lap A-Feature. He earned the pole in 2014 but had a flat right-rear tire early in the race before charging back to finish ninth. He finished 10th last April.
One of Schatz’s career-best 31 A-Feature wins in 2015 came at I-55 Raceway last August in the first night of the Ironman event. The win at one of the most exciting tracks on the WoO schedule ended a 16-race winless streak at I-55 for Schatz, who scored his first career win at the 1/3-mile, high-banked dirt oval on April 1, 2006. After starting sixth, Schatz led 12 of the 13 laps in the 35-lap A-Feature to collect his 22ndcheckered flag of the season. The next night, he started fourth and stalked leader Kerry Madsen for the first 32 laps before taking the lead on lap 33. After leading the next 12 laps, a caution slowed his pursuit of his first Ironman 55 triumph. He was overtaken on the restart and ultimately finished third to give him 29 top-10 finishes in 37 career starts at the track.
Schatz and the Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team consisting of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti finished fourth Tuesday night in their first appearance at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Arkansas. After qualifying seventh and starting the 40-lap A-Feature seventh, Schatz worked his way into the top-five in a race that was slowed several times by cautions and a pair of red-flag stoppages. The finish was the team’s 13th top-five in the first 20 races of 2016 and Schatz ranks third in the championship standings with 2,712 points, trailing leader Brad Sweet by 105 markers.
Friday at Salina, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details, call the track at (918) 434-7223 or visit salinahighbanksspeedway.com.
Saturday at I-55, the pit gates and the grandstands will open at 2 p.m. CDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact I-55 Raceway by calling (636) 479-3219 or visiting www.I55raceway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can 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:
Through the first 20 races of the 2016 campaign, you and the team have experienced a great deal. What are your expectations for the next 20 races, starting with this weekend’s doubleheader on high-banked tracks?
“We’re still trying to get better every night and that’s no different this weekend. We have been working on quite a few things and that includes starting our nights better in qualifying. I’ve said before that sometimes you have to take a few steps back to get ahead and we’re focused on going forward. The Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance guys are the best in the pit area and just keep working. This weekend, we’re looking forward to racing at Salina and Pevely. They have some similarities in shape and banking. You have to be able to move around and find a second groove on those kinds of tracks. Early in the night, you can usually get up and lean on the banking, but that makes passing pretty difficult. With this new format, you pretty much have to qualify on the front row. We’re hoping that’s where we can be for the heat races and then hope another lane develops to race in as the night goes along.”
You have raced at I-55 in all 19 of your previous WoO seasons. Last August, you picked up your second win there and continued an incredibly consistent run at the track. Has racing there so much throughout your career been the biggest reason for your recent success there?
“I think experience is a pretty important part of succeeding with the World of Outlaws. Tony Stewart has built a team that has more experience than any other group out here and, a lot nights, that makes a big difference. We were happy to finally win one last year. It seemed like we had finished second in a ton of races there. Dirt track racing is never the same two nights in a row, but having as many laps at a place like I-55. You have to remember things have changed so much over the last 20 years. The cars, engines, wings, shocks and tires are all different. That’s where you need a strong team to balance things from the past with what’s going on right now. We’re working hard but, at the end of the night, some of the things we did at I-55 early in my career will still be important. You have to find a way to get around guys. A lot of nights, guys are fast right up on the wall and you have to find a way to make the middle or the bottom work to get around them. Lapped traffic is key and being good at the end is a really big deal.”