Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz won two of three World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series A-Feature events last week and took over the top spot in the championship standings with three podium finishes in the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J.Schatz scored victories Wednesday evening at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putamville, Indiana and Saturday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway to push his 2016 victory total to nine and moved him past Brad Sweet by 41 markers with 36 races complete.
“We had a very productive week,” said Schatz, the reigning and seven-time WoO champion. “We’ve spent a lot of time early this season working to get ourselves better. We have learned a lot so far and still have a ways to go. My Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance guys are incredible. Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti have been doing a great job. We strive to win races and this week we got two. We missed out on another one Friday night, but we learned some things that helped us Saturday. Obviously, Knoxville is a place that has been so good to me and putting together two solid nights gives us something to work with when we come back in August for the Nationals. The page turns quickly out here though and we have to focus on being as best as we can Tuesday.”
Schatz made his debut at Lincoln Park Wednesday night and quickly adapted to the 5/16-mile dirt oval in central Indiana. He qualified fourth in the field of 30 cars before finishing second to Kyle Larson in the opening heat race. The dash invert was four, which put Schatz on the pole for the six-lap race that set the lineup for the first three rows of the 40-lap A-Feature. Schatz and David Gravel staged a terrific side-by-side battle for the lead with Schatz running the cushion and Gravel rolling the bottom. Schatz ultimately came out on top to earn his second pole of the year. In the main event, Schatz took the early lead before his battle with Gravel resumed seven laps into the race. The two worked their way through traffic lap after lap with Schatz holding the top spot for the first 21 laps before Gravel took the point for two laps. Schatz used traffic to his advantage and retook the lead on lap 24 and he would not relinquish it to earn his eighth triumph of the season. Lincoln Park Speedway became the 77th different track where he’s won a WoO A-Feature.
Following Wednesday’s victory, Schatz led the Outlaws to historic Knoxville for two nights of racing. In Friday night’s opener, he qualified third in Group A qualifying and finished second in the first heat. He raced from fifth to second in the dash to start the 25-lap A-Feature outside of Terry McCarl. McCarl got the jump on the start as Schatz battled Kerry Madsen for the second position during the first 10 laps. He made his move for the lead on a lap 15 restart by powering by McCarl coming out of turn two, but McCarl regained the lead in turn four. Schatz kept pace with McCarl during the final laps of the race, but couldn’t make a move for the lead and finished second.
In Saturday’s event at Knoxville, Schatz qualified fourth in the field of 35 cars and won the fourth heat to transfer into the dash. He wasn’t able to advance from his fifth spot in the dash and started the 25-lap A-Feature inside of the third row. He was racing Shane Stewart for fourth during the opening laps before a restart on lap. The restart was reminiscent of something fans might see at the Talladega Superspeedway as an 11-car accident occurred coming down the front straightway when second-place runner Ian Madsen made contact with Brian Brown and Stewart starting a chain reaction. Schatz avoided the accident and would restart third behind polesitter Jamie Veal and Madsen. He held third for the next 10 laps before overtaking Madsen for second on lap 15 and then began to track down Veal for the lead. He made his bid for the lead coming out of turn four on lap 22 to grab the lead. Schatz pulled away during the final three laps to earn his 24th career victory at the famed half-mile, dirt oval in central Iowa.
Through 36 races, Schatz continues to lead the series in wins with nine, top-fives with 24, top-10s with 34 and KSE Hard Charger Awards with seven. He has accumulated 4,988 points and leads Brad Sweet by 41 markers in the championship standings.
Schatz and the Outlaws will continue their run through the Upper Midwest with three races this week beginning with Tuesday night’s stop at Granite City Speedway in Sauk Valley, Minnesota. Last June, Schatz won the Outlaws’ debut at the 3/8-mile track storming from the fifth-starting position with a charge in the closing laps. He’ll return to his home state of North Dakota Friday to race at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks. Schatz has won 12 of his 213 career WoO A-Features in North Dakota. Sunday, he’ll venture to South Dakota for a Father’s Day race at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen.