Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz raced to his fifth World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series A-Feature victory Saturday night at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California to conclude a Friday-Saturday doubleheader in the Golden State. His run from 14th to first to capture his third career Mini Gold Cup crown at Silver Dollar came on the heels of a charge from 18th to sixth Friday at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville.
Both Saturday’s victory and his charge Friday came aboard the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J and earned the seven-time and reigning WoO champion the KSE Hard Charger Award. That’s three consecutive Hard Charger Awards for Schatz, who raced from 20th to eighth March 23 at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway. The ability to charge forward has been a signature for Schatz during his first 19 seasons with “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” and it’s continued in 2016.
“This race team doesn’t give up,” Schatz said. “We haven’t showed what we are capable of qualifying, lately, but you have to think outside the box a little bit and I think we just eliminated the box,” Schatz said after his 209th career WoO A-Feature triumph and 15th in the state of California. “This Tony Stewart Racing team just didn’t give up. We have incredible support from Tony and our marketing partners Bad Boy and Chevrolet Performance. It’s a privilege to drive this car and, tonight, we had to come a long way to get the win. We kept working at it and that’s the only way to give yourself a chance. At the end of the race, guys kept doing different things – a lot of scenarios were going on. We had a lot of yellow flags, but that’s the way it goes and I am just glad to be here”
Schatz opened the weekend by returning to Ocean Speedway for the first time since 2008. He qualified 18th in the field of 25 cars and finished sixth in the third heat race. The Fargo, North Dakota racer started the 35-lap A-Feature 18th and had to bide his time during the first half of the race as the track remained locked down and narrow. As the race reached the halfway point, Schatz was able to move around and run lines other than the bottom groove. He surged is way inside the top-10 with 10 laps to go and climbed to sixth on the final two laps.
Saturday’s Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway was the first of two stops at the famed quarter-mile dirt oval in North Central California. Schatz won both the Mini Gold Cup and Gold Cup Race of Champions at the track last season en route to his career-best 31 A-Feature triumphs. He was the 14th car in the 25-car field to make a qualifying lap and he ended up 20th. He started seventh and worked his way into a transfer position in heat two and earned the 14th-starting posting in the 40-lap A-Feature by finishing fifth in the heat. Schatz was on the move from the start of the A-Feature, climbing inside the top-10 in the first four laps. He continued charging forward in the race that was slowed by numerous cautions. He had worked himself up to third when race leader D.J. Netto ran out of fuel five laps from the finish. Schatz took advantage, passing Daryn Pittman and racing away from the field during the final three laps to take the win.
With 14 of 92 events complete, Schatz has earned five victories, eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He ranks third in the championship standings with 1,869 points and trails leader Sweet by 88 markers.
The 2016 WoO California spring tour continues next Saturday and Sunday with the Wine Country Showdown at Calistoga Speedway. Schatz is a three-time winner at the picturesque half-mile dirt oval, including his triumph in last year’s finale.