INDIANAPOLIS (June 14, 2017) – Every fall, college campuses across the country host homecoming weekends and traditionally a one-sided football game during which the home team runs roughshod and everyone leaves happy. It’s rare for competitors in the world of motorsports to have any sort of “home game” advantage as they crisscross the country competing week after week.
For eight-time and reigning World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz, this week will provide the North Dakota resident a homecoming-type opportunity behind the wheel of the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/ Curb J&J when the Outlaws stage their annual “Duel in the Dakotas” doubleheader starting with Friday 20th WoO-sanctioned race at River Cities Speedway and Saturday’s return to Red River Valley Speedway for the first time in five years.
And the competition within the World of Outlaws during this, the series’ 40th season, dictates that this won’t be your typical Big School U. versus Northern Valley State outcome. Schatz leads the list of talented drivers into action with the goal of racing for victories and giving the expected standing-room-only crowds a North Dakota local kid-turned-champion to root for.
The Outlaws’ annual Duel in the Dakotas made an early impression on Schatz, who grew up in Minot and every summer traveled to Fargo to catch Sprint car legends Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell and Doug Wolfgang put on a show. For as long as he could remember, he would join a ravenous fan base that packed the Red River Valley grandstands to see the sports icons in action on the big, half-mile fairgrounds dirt oval before ultimately joining them in action six weeks prior to his 16th birthday in 1993. He’s made a lot of circles both in his home state and around the United States and Australia since that first race. Today, Schatz is on pace to join the sport’s elite after 20 seasons on the road with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
That lofty status didn’t come easily. It was the result of being driven to continue to improve. When he left home and started his WoO career in 1997, the North Dakota stop was one of the most important dates circled on the schedule. Each year, the race became bigger and bigger for Schatz and, in his sixth full season as an Outlaw, he accomplished a major goal of winning an Outlaw show in his home state. The victory in July 2002 at Red River Valley was the first of now 18 WoO A-Feature triumphs he has in North Dakota.
Schatz and the TSR team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti head into the weekend with momentum following Saturday’s victory at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, the team’s 10th of the season, and they’ll be looking to match last year’s run in North Dakota, where they won all three Outlaw races.
In addition to driving the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance J&J, Schatz will race his family owned No. 15 Petro Stopping Center/Schatz Crossroads/Fastlane Car Wash Dirt Late Model at both River Cities and Red River Valley. In August 2015, Schatz swept both the WoO race and NLRA Late Model main events at River Cities.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: NORTH DAKOTA
- Donny Schatz made his World of Outlaws debut in July 1993 at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, North Dakota.
- Schatz has 37 career WoO starts at Red River Valley Speedway, 18 of which were classified as preliminary features.
- He has four career WoO wins at Red River Valley: two WoO A-Features in 2002 and 2006, and two preliminary features in 2003 and 2006. Schatz also has won a pair of Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions events at the track (2011 and 2012). Both of those wins came on the reconfigured, 3/8-mille dirt oval.
- Since the Outlaws first competed at River Cities Speedway in June 2007, Schatz has been one of the drivers to beat around the high-banked, quarter-mile dirt oval. He has competed in all 19 WoO races contest on the track, which has a track record of 9.269 seconds and annually has some of the most exciting races of the entire WoO season.
- Schatz has won eight WoO A-Features at River Cities, including the previous four 40-lap A-Features, six of the last eight and has finished first or second in 11 of his last 12 starts there.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: 2017
- Through 35 of 92 scheduled races in the 2017 WoO campaign, Schatz leads the championship standings with 4,952 markers and holds a 76-point advantage over Brad Sweet.
- Schatz leads the series with 10 wins and 27 top-five finishes. His 30 top-10s are second-most behind the 31 of Gravel and Sweet.
• He has earned three fast qualifier awards in 2017, including last Saturday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
- Schatz has wins this season at Volusia (2), LoneStar Speedway, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2), State Fair Speedway, 81 Speedway, Eldora Speedway and Knoxville Raceway.
For Friday’s race at River Cities, the pit gates at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.rivercitiesspeedway.com or call (218) 773-3001.
Saturday at Red River Valley, the pit gates at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit redrivervalleyspeedway.com or call (388-6637
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live audio coverage is available as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com. Visit to DIRTVision.com for more information.
Fans are encouraged to follow the progress of Schatz, TSR and the No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J throughout the campaign on the web and social media. More information can be found at www.TonyStewartRacing.com, www.arcticcat.com, and www.donnyschatzmotorsports.com.
Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TonyStewartRacing or on Twitter and Instagram @TonyStewart_Rcg.
Donny Schatz: Facebook at www.facebook.com/DonnySchatz or on Twitter and Instagram @DonnySchatz.
Arctic Cat: Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArcticCat or on Twitter and Instagram @ArcticCat_atv @ArcticCat_Snow
Curb: Facebook at www.facebook.com/CurbRecords or on Twitter and Instagram @CurbRecords.
Ford Performance: Facebook at www.facebook.com/FordPerformance or on Twitter and Instagram @FordPerformance.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J:
The World of Outlaws schedule takes you all across the map from the start of the season to the end. Fortunately, there are a couple of times each season that you get to race close to home. What does it mean for you to be able to come back to North Dakota and race each year?
“I feel fortunate that I get to race for a living and am proud to represent North Dakota throughout the United States. This is one of the busiest parts of the year and to be home is a really good feeling. The fans are a big part of that because they come out and support these events. River Cities Speedway is one of the top tracks in the country and the Outlaw races there has been awesome for 10 years going. And then being able to follow that up with a race in Fargo Saturday is a really big deal. If there is one place you look forward to getting back to, it’s a place you got a lot of laps at growing up. Red River Valley Speedway is my home track, even though I grew up in Minot, and I raced in Grand Forks quite a few Friday nights as well. This is kind of like the perfect weekend. You get Grand Forks and Fargo in the same weekend. That’s something you dream of as a kid and here were are in 2017, with that opportunity.”
As if competing with the World of Outlaws in your home state wasn’t enough, this weekend you’ll be doing double duty racing both the WoO Sprint car and your Dirt Late Model. What’s the biggest challenge with racing both classes the same night?
“Most of it is just timing. Things go pretty quickly when your are out on the track as much as we are running both cars. I want to be competitive in both cars. I’ve raced both cars at Grand Forks several times and if everything is going okay, it’s a good thing. If something goes wrong on either side of the fence, it’s a big challenge. My job is the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance car so that takes priority. The Late Model is more for fun and to try and put on a good show for the fans. This is the first time that we’ll be trying to do it consecutive nights, and I’m guessing I’ll be pretty worn out by the time we are done Saturday night. That’s part of it, though. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We’ll do our best to have a good weekend in both cars and see if we can’t have a lot of fun in the process.”