After starting the 2017 World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series campaign by winning three of the first four races, Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team headed to Las Vegas this past weekend looking to continue setting a blistering pace during the Outlaws’ annual invasion at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And when the dust settled Friday night, Schatz was the last one standing after collecting all the hardware, bonus cash and the momentum.
The eight-time and reigning WoO champion and his team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti banked two more wins in dramatic fashion at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past weekend to push their current winning streak to five and continue one of the fastest starts in the 40-year history of “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” After dominating Thursday’s 25-lap A-Feature aboard the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance J&J, Schatz lost the lead on a late restart, but he wasn’t going to be denied. On the white-flag lap, he dove under Brian Brown in turns three and four and beat him to the finish line to score his 10th career triumph at the half-mile, dirt oval. With Thursday’s win, including an additional $5,000 cash bonus, in the bank, Schatz and crew came back Friday night looking for the Vegas sweep. He started second and chased down early leader Logan Schuchart and took the lead on lap 13 of the 30-lap contest. Schatz held the top spot for eight laps before Rico Abreu overtook Schatz with nine laps remaining. This time it was Schatz who took advantage of a restart and surged ahead of Abreu to retake the lead. Schatz pulled away during the final seven laps and became the first driver to sweep a Las Vegas WoO doubleheader since Steve Kinser pulled off the feat in March 2004.
“You just have to keep fighting and working for everything you get out here racing with the World of Outlaws and I wouldn’t want to go into a fight with any group more than these Arctic Cat/Ford Performance guys,” Schatz said after his 11th career Las Vegas win and 234th career WoO victory. “We always enjoy coming to Las Vegas. Obviously with everything going on here this weekend – the NASCAR races across the street, the CONEXPO convention being in town – there are a lot of people here watching and we wanted to do our best to come out on top. We know we have a bullseye on our backs and we thrive on that. We show up at these races with the goal of winning everything we can. The restart Thursday night probably wasn’t what we needed and we ended up using every lap to get the win. And then we come back the next night and take advantage of a late restart. That’s racing. And part of that is being prepared to take advantage of those opportunities. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved with our team. To get two wins in Las Vegas is incredible, and now it’s off to California, where we’ll look to keep our level of performance as high as we can.”
• The Las Vegas sweep for Schatz extended his current winning streak to five. The streak matches the second longest of his 21-year WoO career. His longest winning streak of six races came in August and September of 2014. He won five consecutive races in June 2015.
- With his fifth win in the first six races, Schatz joins Steve Kinser and Doug Wolfgang as the only drivers in the Outlaws’ 40-year history to put up a winning percentage over 80 percent in the first half dozen WoO races. In 1981, Wolfgang also won five of the first six WoO races and, a decade later in 1991, Kinser won six of the first seven WoO races.
- Schatz now his 234 career WoO A-Feature and he ranks third all-time behind Steve Kinser (577) and Sammy Swindell (294).
- The sweep pushed his career victory total to 11 in 55 career starts at the half-mile, dirt oval. He is the winningest driver at The Dirt Track at LVMS.
- Badlands Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota, offered a $5,000 cash bonus to the winners of Thursday and Friday night’s A-Feature. Schatz ended up with both of the bonuses and the added component of having the chance to earn an extra bonus if he is able to win both Outlaw events at Badlands Speedway in early July.
- Schatz increased his lead the WoO championship standings from 20 points to 74 over Jason Johnson and Brad Sweet through six of the 92 scheduled races.
The Outlaws’ Kick-Off Tour continues this weekend with a doubleheader at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California for first two of seven nights of competition in the Golden State. Anything can happen at the high-banked, .33-mile dirt oval and usually does. Last March, Schatz went out early to qualify and on an extremely narrow racing surface wasn’t able to transfer into the A-Feature. The track is one of 82 different facilities where Schatz has won over his career. The Fargo, North Dakota racer is looking to return to victory lane this weekend for the first time at the track since his win in October 2007.