Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and his Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance team continued their consistent run in World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series competition by racing to a pair of fifth-place finishes in the Champion Oil Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania last weekend.
Schatz came into the weekend doubleheader on a run of eight consecutive finishes of first or second aboard the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J, including a victory in the 33rd annual Kings Royal and runner-up finish in the 25th anniversary Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup.
The seven-time and reigning WoO champion was looking to capture his eighth triumph in Summer Nationals races and 16th victory of the season as he continues his 20th season of competition with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” Schatz finished third at Williams Grove earlier in the season and began his quest for his 20th career triumph at the famed half-mile, dirt oval by going out 27th in the in the field of 38 cars for qualifying. Schatz ended up 10th in the second group of cars, which started him fifth in the third heat. Despite the extremely warm temperatures, the track held moisture during the heat races, making passing even more difficult. In his heat race, Schatz moved quickly into fourth and pressured the drivers who held third and second for the final three laps of the race. He attempted a late slide job in the final corner, looking to pass both, but he wasn’t able to make it hold and he finished fourth. That finish placed the Fargo, North Dakota resident 16th on the grid for the 25-lap A-Feature. He wasn’t deep in the field for long as he picked off cars in his charge forward. He made it up to 10th on lap eight and reached sixth four laps later. On lap 16, he was up to fifth, but the leaders were spread out and had put some distance on Schatz by all using the high line running up against the cushion. Schatz would follow winner Daryn Pittman, Lance Dewease, Greg Hodnett and Stevie Smith to the finish line.
Things got off to a better start Saturday after Schatz went out one spot later in qualifying, but he turned in the fifth-best lap against the clock in the second group of qualifiers. He passed Tim Shaffer on the opening lap of heat three to grab one of the coveted spots in the dash. Despite finishing sixth in the six-lap dash, Schatz and his crew of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti came up with a game plan for the 30-lap A-Feature that paid $25,000 to the winner. For the first half of the race, Schatz bounced between fifth and sixth while working the high side, low line and through the middle searching for the fastest way around. He exchanged positions with David Gravel several times and looked to be in great spot to contend for the win following a lap-19 restart, when he drove past three competitors. The start was called back and, on the ensuing restart, he dropped back to eighth and spent six laps racing his way back into seventh before advancing a position each on both lap 26 and 27 to climb back to fifth. He spent the final two laps again battling Gravel but couldn’t make the pass and was scored fifth at the finish.
Dewease overtook Pittman to score his second WoO win of the season and keep the Morgan Cup in Pennsylvania until next year.
The two top-fives enabled Schatz to push his lead in the WoO championship standings to 228 markers over Gravel. Schatz leads all drivers through 54 races in wins with 15, top-fives with 39, top-10s with 51 and nine KSE Hard Charger Awards.
Schatz and the TSR team will close out July this week with three races beginning Tuesday at the Six Nations Showdown at Ohsweken (Ontario) Speedway. It’s the Outlaws’ only venture into Canada this season and Schatz is looking to make it five consecutive seasons with at least one triumph north of the border. He leads all drivers with three career victories at Ohsweken. The series moves to Michigan Friday for a stop at Hartford Speedway in Hartford, then back to Wisconsin Saturday for O’Reilly Auto Parts Badger 40 at Wilmot Raceway.