It’s been another storybook season for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz as he continues his 20th season of World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series competition. The seven-time and reigning WoO champion and current points leader proved once again it’s not over until it’s over Friday night by driving the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Off Road/Chevrolet Performance J&J into the lead following a late restart to win the Arnold Motor Supply Shootout at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa.
“This Tony Stewart Racing team does an incredible job,” Schatz said. “We were fortunate on that late restart. The 9 car was a lot better than we were. At one point, you couldn’t even see him, he was so far out front in traffic. When your car is as good as his was, you hate to see those yellows. You can’t control these yellows in racing. That’s the nature of the beast. Some days it bites you and some days it doesn’t. Without the restart, I definitely wouldn’t have won that thing.”
Schatz returned to Clay County Fair Speedway Friday following a second-place finish WHEN? at El Paso County Speedway in Calhan, Colorado. The Fargo, North Dakota driver first visited the fairgrounds as a teenager in 1993 and always had a fondness for what now has become a 3/8-mile dirt oval. His track record heading into Friday’s race was four wins and finishes in the top-10 in all nine WoO races. He qualified 10th in the field of 36 cars and worked his way into the dash by racing to victory in the second heat. After starting seventh in the Craftsman Club Dash, Schatz charged forward four positions in the six-lap race to grab an inside-second-row starting position for the 30-lap A-Feature.
In the feature, polesitter Daryn Pittman grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag and controlled the race while Schatz battled with Jason Johnson, Brad Sweet and Logan Schuchart inside the top-five. With nine laps remaining, Pittman led over Schuchart and Schatz when a yellow flag erased a huge lead for Pittman. On the restart, Schatz passed Schuchart for second and tried to keep pace with Pittman over the next seven laps. A yellow with two laps to go provided Schatz a final opportunity. On the restart, Schatz made his move for victory by taking the low line into turn one and was able to pull even with Pittman and take the lead coming out of turn two. He held his line for a lap and a half to secure his fifth career win at Clay County and 226th career WoO A-Feature triumph.
“There was no game plan on the restart,” Schatz said. “He had a lot different line. He was going out in one and coming back across. I got the wing back on that last restart and figured if I could get the bottom, maybe he’d slip up and I could get there before he got back down. Then it was just do whatever you can to carry as much speed as you could.”
The TSR team made the five-hour tow from northwest Iowa to northwest Missouri following the race for Saturday’s FVP Missouri High Banked Nationals at U.S. 36 Raceway in Osborn, Missouri. It was the Outlaws’ first visit to the 3/8-mile dirt oval since 2009 and fourth appearance overall. Schatz was the final driver to make a qualifying lap in the 29-car field and timed in 16th. The track was extremely fast in the heat races and Schatz, who started sixth in the first heat, advanced two spots to finish fourth and earn the 10th-starting spot in the 35-lap A-Feature. In the main event, passing was at a premium as the cars were locked down and continued to make 12-second laps throughout the 35-lap race. Schatz finished seventh in the race that was slowed only by a pair of cautions.
Joey Saldana led the final 31 laps Saturday to claim his fifth victory of the season and 99th WoO A-Feature triumph of his career.
With 12 races remaining in the 2016 season, Schatz continues to set the pace in the WoO championship standings. He has amassed 9,879 points and has a 269-point advantage over Pittman. Schatz also leads the series in wins with 22, top-fives with 52, top-10s with 67 and 10 KSE Hard Charger Awards.
The TSR team returned to its Brownsburg, Indiana race shop following Saturday’s event in Missouri. It’ll prepare for three races this week beginning Wednesday night at Hartford (Mich.) Speedway for a race originally scheduled for July 29. The weekend slate includes Friday’s Four-Crown Nationals opener at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, where Schatz earned his third Kings Royal triumph in July. The action concludes for the week with a return to Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania for the Commonwealth Clash.