Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz raced his way to two more podium finishes with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series as it continued its trek through the Upper Midwest last week. The driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J charged from ninth to second Wednesday at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska, 14th to sixth Friday at the Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex and 14th to third in Saturday’s “JB” Memorial at Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway.
“We’re still a work in progress, but there isn’t anyone working harder than my Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance guys,” said Schatz. “We’re battling some issues that have given us problems early in the night and that’s made our path to victory a little more challenging. We are out here to win races and Tony (Stewart) has surrounded me with an incredible group of people. We had to try a different line than Joey (Saldana) if we were going to win at I-80 and we came up short. We got what we could Friday at Jackson after not qualifying very well, and then overcame a problem in the heat race at Beaver Dam. We know you are going to have issues when you race as much as we do, but you want to get them out of the way now so it’s not costing you later.”
Schatz entered last week with an 18-point lead in the WoO championship standings as the series continued a busy June. The seven-time and reigning champion resumed his quest for a third consecutive title following a victory in his home state of North Dakota and a third-place finish in South Dakota the previous weekend.
In each of the last two seasons, Schatz finished second at I-80 Speedway and was looking to improve his results by one position on a hot and muggy night in eastern Nebraska last Wednesday. He was the fourth of 23 cars to make a qualifying lap around the half-mile, dirt oval and ended up 12th overall. After starting fourth in the third heat, he quickly advanced to third and set his sights on Ian Madsen for one of the coveted top-two positions. Despite his efforts, he would end up third and gain the ninth starting position in the 30-lap A-Feature. A good start was key as he cleared four cars on the opening lap and held fifth until lap 10, when he passed Daryn Pittman four fourth. He then tracked down Logan Schuchart for third on lap 17 and passed David Gravel for second on lap 18. A pair of restarts shuffled the order during the final seven laps, but Schatz held off challenges from Jason Johnson and Brad Sweet for second while Joey Saldana took the victory.
Friday’s stop was at the newly renovated Jackson Motorplex in southwest Minnesota. Schatz is a two-time winner at the half-mile, dirt oval, and he was the first car to make a qualifying lap. He ended up 18th in the 36-car field and finished fourth in the second heat. He started the 30-lap A-Feature 14th and made his way into the top-10 on lap 14 and bounced between ninth and 10th during the next 15 laps. He reached seventh on lap 25 and took sixth from Danny Lasoski with two laps remaining.
Pittman led all 30 laps at Jackson to earn his fifth WoO A-Feature triumph of the season.
The week concluded with Saturday’s annual stop in central Wisconsin at Beaver Dam Raceway. Last June, Schatz stormed from 10th to win his second career A-Feature at the 1/3-mile, dirt oval. He was the 25th of 26 cars to make a qualifying lap Saturday night, ended up 14th and started fifth in the second heat. He overcame a throttle problem during the heat that forced him to the work area during a red-flag stoppage on lap five, and he raced from eighth to fifth to transfer into the 40-lap A-Feature. It was his 21st career A-Feature start at the track and he steadily moved forward, working both the low lines and high groove. He climbed from eighth to fifth on lap 31 and reached fourth on lap 32. Over the next six laps, he put the heat on Joey Saldana for third. A caution with two laps remaining opened the door for Schatz to pass Saldana and he followed Bill Balog and Pittman to finish line. The victory for Balog was his first career WoO triumph.
Through 42 nights of action, Schatz has accumulated 5, 814 points and leads the championship standings by 78 points over Brad Sweet. His 10 wins, 28 top-fives, 39 top-10s and eight KSE Hard Charger Awards are most by any driver this season.
The Outlaws close out June with their first visit to Rockford (Ill.) Speedway Wednesday before returning to South Dakota this weekend for a pair of races at Badlands Motor Speedway in Brandon Saturday and Sunday.