It was a special weekend for Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team as they returned to victory lane twice in World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series action. Schatz drove the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J past Daryn Pittman midway through Friday night’s Show-Me State Showdown at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Missouri and led all 30 laps of the Kansas Outlaw Klassic Saturday at 81 Speedway in Park City, Kansas.
Both wins had special significance for the eight-time and reigning WoO champion as he stretched his lead in the 2017 WoO championship standings. Schatz made his first competitive laps in a Sprint car back in 1993 at State Fair Speedway as a 15-year-old and, Friday night, he scored his third career WoO A-Feature win at the track and seventh of the season to end a winless streak of 10 races. Saturday’s Outlaw stop at 81 Speedway was a homecoming of sorts for Rick Warner, the crew chief of the TSR No. 15. The track is operated by family members of Warner’s wife. And Schatz, who won the Outlaws’ previous race at the track in June 2006, delivered another impressive performance to pick up his eighth win of the campaign and 237th of his illustrious WoO career.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend,” Schatz said. “To be able to get back to victory lane in Sedalia, where I first started racing, and then winning in Wichita felt like a hometown win for Rick and Danele Warner. He’s been with me a long time and we’ve won a lot of races together. We won the last time we were here and we’re fortunate to win again. We had a tough April, but April is over. That’s what racing is about. You’ll have some good days and you are going to have a lot of bad ones. This weekend, we had a couple of the good ones. We just keep digging and finding ways to make the racecar faster. The Arctic Cat/Ford Performance guys –
Rick, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti – were outstanding this weekend. We were fast all night in Sedalia and they just kept digging. Same thing at 81. We went out late in qualifying but made our way into the dash and things went our way in the draw. The car was really good in the feature and we just had the one issue with a lapped car that I thought was going to cost us the win.”
Through 20 of 92 races, Schatz leads the championship standings over David Gravel by 60 points. He tops the series in wins with eight and top-fives with 14 and is tied with Gravel for most top-10s with 17.
State Fair Speedway Race Notes:
• Schatz was the second of 32 cars to make a qualifying lap around the half-mile, dirt oval and his time of 16.310 seconds was second-fastest overall. The result tied his second-best qualifying effort of the season – he also qualified second March 3 at Gator Motorplex. He qualified first at LoneStar Speedway.
- In the 25-lap A-Feature, he started third and grabbed second from Joey Saldana on lap eight. He took the lead on lap 11 by passing Daryn Pittman going down the backstretch.
- Schatz led the final 13 laps to earn his third career WoO A-Feature win at the track and first since his first season of driving for TSR in June 2008.
- The win was his first since a March 18 triumph at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California.
81 Speedway Race Notes:
- The Outlaws returned to 81 Speedway for the first time since June 2006 for their 12th appearance at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval.
- Schatz was one of three competitors in Saturday’s field with a previous WoO victory at the track. Danny Lasoski won in 2004 and Pittman was the 2005 winner.
- Schatz was the 25th of 27 drivers to make a qualifying lap and he ended up ninth overall. He raced from third to second in heat three to transfer into the Craftsman Club Dash. The inversion draw for the dash was a six, putting Schatz on the pole for the six-lap race.
• Schatz won the dash and earned his third pole position of the season. He took the lead at the start of the 30-lap A-Feature and had a comfortable lead for the first half of the race. His run to victory almost came to a halt when Paul McMahan stopped on the track and Schatz had nowhere to go and ran into the back of McMahan’s car. The impact caused damage to the front axle of the TSR No. 15 machine, but Schatz was able to maintain a good pace during the final 13 laps to secure the win.
After a pair of races in the plains, the TSR team returned to the Brownsburg, Indiana shop to prepare for this weekend’s #LetsRaceTwo doubleheader at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Last season, Schatz scored his biggest triumph of the year at “The Big E” by racing to victory in the 33rd annual Kings Royal on July 16. Schatz will compete on the high-banked, high-speed, half-mile dirt oval Friday and Saturday nights.