Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team ventured into the hostile territory of Central Pennsylvania this past week and scored a pair of top-five finishes. Schatz charged from 15th to fourth in Wednesday’s Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottsown before racing from fifth to second in Friday night’s opener at Williams Grove Speedway in Medhanicsburg. The weekend concluded with a 14th-place finish in the Morgan Cup at Williams Grove Saturday evening and a rainout halfway through Sunday’s Empire State Challenge event at Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway.
Schatz led the Outlaws into the first of three battles with the Pennsylvania Posse following a victory behind the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J May 13 at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. In Wednesday’s Gettysburg Clash, the eight-time and reigning WoO champion and his team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti fought their way back after qualifying 12th in their group and finishing fourth in their heat to storm through a stout field and scored their 17th top-five finish of the season. The team carried that momentum 30 minutes north two nights later and was a factor throughout the opening night of action at historic Williams Grove Speedway. Schatz qualified second in his group and won the second heat race. After finishing fifth in the Craftsman Club Dash, the North Dakota native patiently waited for the track to come to him and he surged forward late and was closing on leader David Gravel when a caution flag took the leaders out of traffic. With five laps remaining, Schatz was hoping for five green-flag laps to finish the race, but another caution with two laps remaining thwarted his chances at victory.
The team was looking to build on Friday night’s results in Saturday’s Morgan Cup event. A late qualifying draw didn’t help its chances and Schatz would again be forced to climb his way into contention. He was one of only two drivers inside the top-20 to advance in his heat and started the 30-lap A-Feature from 16th. The Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team dealt with a different racing surface throughout the evening and Schatz was able to reach 11th by the 18th circuit, but he was shuffled back to 15th following a lap-21 restart. He would finish 14th. Sunday marked the return of the Outlaws to Upstate New York and Weedsport Speedway for the third consecutive May. Schatz was the victor the previous two and he was looking to make it a hat trick. He qualified 11th in the field of 29 cars and finished fourth the second heat race before rain started failing. The showers continued and forced WoO officials to reschedule the event for Oct. 15.
Through 26 of 92 races, Schatz continues to lead the championship standings with 3,662 points and has a 50-point advantage over Gravel. He tops the series in wins with nine and top-fives with 18 as the series continues a busy slate of May races that includes 12 stops.
Weekend Race Notes:
• Wednesday’s run from 15th to fourth at Lincoln marked the fourth time in 2017 where Schatz advanced more than 10 positions in the A-Feature.
- Schatz qualified second in Friday’s program at Williams Grove Speedway. It was the fourth time this season he qualified in the second position. All four times he has finished inside the top-four (Gator Motorplex fourth, Sedalia first, Eldora fourth, and Williams Grove second).
- Friday’s finish was the third runner-up of the season for Schatz and 12th time in his career at Williams Grove.
Schatz and the TSR team will continue the season’s first Eastern Swing with Tuesday night’s Jersey Outlaw Classic at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway. Schatz is a two-time winner at the D-shaped dirt oval, winning in 2001 and 2003. Friday night, the Outlaws will be the featured attraction of the Coca-Cola 600 weekend festivities in Charlotte as Schatz looks to continue his winning ways at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Last November, Schatz capped his eighth WoO championship by winning his ninth career WoO A-Feature at The Dirt Track. Memorial Day weekend concludes with the Outlaws making their annual stop at Lawrenceburg Speedway in southeast Indiana, where Schatz was victorious in 2013 and 2014.