Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team continued their torrid pace to open the 2017 World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series campaign with a second-place finish Saturday night aboard the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J in the FVP Western Spring Shootout at Stockton (Calif.) Dirt Track.
Schatz led the Outlaws to the 3/8-mile dirt oval located on the San Joaquin Fairgrounds following his series-leading sixth victory of the season March 18 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare. The eight-time and reigning champion also was the most recent winner at Stockton after sweeping both A-Feature events in 2016. With Friday’s opener canceled because of rain, the event became a single show. The 30-lap A-Feature culminated the night and Schatz and Brad Sweet had the capacity crowd on the edge of its seats. Sweet led from lap two and was doing his best to hold off Schatz as the duo worked lapped traffic during the final 10 laps of the race. Schatz dove under Sweet exiting turn four to lead lap 24, but Sweet was able to retake the top spot the next lap coming out of turn two. Two laps later, Schatz retook the lead with a textbook pass in turns one and two, but a yellow flag was thrown moments later, negating the move for the lead. With Sweet having an open track following the restart, Schatz wasn’t able to make another move for the lead and had to settle for his second runner-up finish in seven career starts at the track.
“Another great night by the TSR/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance guys – they’ve really been on their game,” Schatz said. “They gave me a car good enough to win the race tonight. The timing of that (lap-27) caution wasn’t the best, but that’s how it goes. Brad was setting a pretty good pace and getting into lapped traffic was the key for us. We love it when we get into those long runs and where lapped cars are part of the equation. Hopefully, the fans saw a great show because it sure was fun from my seat. It’s been a great start to the season for this whole team and now we’ll move on to Placerville and try to get one spot better.”
• Schatz hasn’t finished outside of the top-10 in seven career starts at the Stockton Dirt Track. He has finished on the podium there six times – three wins, two seconds and a third.
- By leading lap 24, Schatz has led at least one lap in five of the six A-Features at Stockton. He has led laps in seven of the first nine WoO A-Features in 2017.
- Five times in 2017, Schatz has qualified inside the top three positions. Saturday marked the fourth time this season he has qualified third.
- With his second-place finish in the opening heat race, Schatz qualified for the Craftsman Club Dash for the sixth consecutive race.
- Schatz carries a 68-point lead over Sweet in the 2017 WoO championship standings through nine of the 92 scheduled nights of racing.
The Outlaws’ California tour concludes this week beginning with Wednesday’s Short Track Showdown presented by NAPA Auto Parts at Placerville Speedway. The series returns to Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford Friday night before closing the week at Perris Auto Speedway in Lake Perris Saturday. Schatz won the Outlaws’ debut at Placerville in 2015 and topped the field at Hanford in April 2013. His best career finish at Perris is third, which he scored in 2013 and 2015.