Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz raced to victory twice this past weekend as the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series embarked on their first trip of 2016 into Pennsylvania and New York. Schatz led every lap of the Gettysburg Clash Thursday to score his first career win at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J. He finished third Friday at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania before closing the weekend Sunday with a thrilling run from ninth to first at Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway.
“I got all the faith in the world in this race team – Tony (Stewart) has assembled an awesome group of guys,” Schatz said following his seventh victory of season at Weedsport. “These guys are unbelievable and we have a lot of fun together. I’m sure they’re ready to get off the East Coast because I have been riding in the truck with them and I think they’re ready to get rid of me for a while and have a break.”
The seven-time and reigning WoO champion led the Outlaws into their first battle with the “Pennsylvania Posse” looking to end an 11-race winless streak dating back to his April 2 triumph in the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California. The Gettysburg Clash was scheduled for Wednesday night, but Mother Nature forced officials to push back the race 24 hours.
Thursday’s weather was picture perfect and Schatz was the 21st of 39 cars to make a qualifying lap. He turned the second-fastest lap in the second group to earn the pole position for heat four. He led every lap to transfer into the six-car dash and, by the luck of the draw, he started on the pole. Schatz jumped out to an early lead and won the six-lap race to earn the pole position for the 35-lap A-Feature. In the feature, Schatz was on a mission to win at Lincoln for the first time in his career. The Fargo, North Dakota racer took the lead early and paced the field with a comfortable margin during the first half of the race. He worked the bottom groove to perfection and managed his way past lapped traffic late in the race to win the nonstop race. It was his sixth victory of the season and first at Lincoln, making the 4/10-mile dirt oval the 76th different track where he’s earned a WoO triumph.
Following Thursday’s victory, the Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team returned to Williams Grove for the first of two nights of action. Schatz, who has 19 career wins at the historic half-mile, opened the night by qualifying third in the second group and started the third heat race on the outside of row one. He finished second to Greg Hodnett in the heat and followed that by finishing sixth in the eight-car dash. He started on the outside of row three for the 25-lap A-Feature and held the fifth position for the opening five laps. He moved into fourth on lap six and continued searching the track for faster grooves. He passed Daryn Pittman for third following a lap-14 restart and set his sights on Hodnett and leader Lance Dewease during the final 10 laps of the race. Schatz closed the gap on Hodnett several times but couldn’t make a move for second. Dewease took the win for the “Posse” and evened the score after two nights at one win apiece.
Persistent rain washed out Saturday’s Morgan Cup at Williams Grove and the TSR team traveled six hours north to Weedsport Speedway for Sunday night’s festivities. Last May, Schatz led all 35 laps to pick up the victory and opened this year’s program by qualifying sixth in the field of 28 cars. After starting second in heat three, he missed a chance to advance into the dash when Shane Stewart squeezed by on lap two of the eight-lap race. Schatz would finish third and transfer directly into the 35-lap main event. The Outlaw veteran showed great poise in the main event, patiently working his way forward. He was in fifth on lap eight and fourth three laps later. He bounced between fourth and fifth from laps 16 to 18 before taking third on lap 19. Schatz passed Joey Saldana for second on lap 22 and then turned his focus on race-long leader Logan Schuchart. He continued to close the gap as the duo worked through lapped traffic. On lap 30, the two were side-by-side coming to the flagstand. Schatz drove under Schuchart in turns one and two to seize control. He pulled away during the final four laps to record his second consecutive victory at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval.
The TSR team made of Schatz, Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti made big strides both on the track and in the championship standings over the weekend. Entering the Gettysburg Clash, Schatz trailed Brad Sweet by 105 markers. With the two wins and the third podium finish, they closed the gap to 39 points. Schatz’s seven A-Feature triumphs and 26 top-10 finishes tops all Outlaws through the first 28 events of the season.
The 2016 WoO schedule resumes Tuesday as the series wraps up its push through the northeast with the Jersey Outlaw Classic at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway. Last May, Schatz raced from ninth to second at the 7/16-mile, D-shaped dirt oval. He has two career WoO A-Feature victories at the track.