Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team were looking to add another historic Sprint car race to their of accomplishments this past weekend. Schatz, the eight-time and reigning World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion, worked his way into position to challenge for the victory aboard the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J in Saturday’s finale of the 39th annual AGCO Jackson Nationals at Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex. Unfortunately, a mechanical failure hindered his chances of battling eventual winner Brad Sweet and runner-up Kerry Madsen for the $25,000 check.
The three-night Jackson Nationals proved to be a test of consistency with more than 40 WoO competitors tackling the half-mile, dirt oval. Both Thursday and Friday, Schatz and the TSR team grabbed points through qualifying, heat finishes and the 25-lap A-Feature events. He qualified third in his group both nights and won his heat Thursday and finished second in Friday’s heat. In both main events, Schatz would finish fourth to garner the third-most qualifying points overall and lock himself into Saturday night’s Craftsman Club Dash.
After finishing third in Saturday’s six-lap dash, Schatz would begin pursuit of his first Jackson Nationals crown from the inside of row two. The Fargo, North Dakota racer battled Jason Sides for the third position during the early stages of the race before he began making one of his patented charges forward. By the race’s midway point, he was reeling in Madsen and Sweet, who were engaged in a terrific battle for the lead. Schatz raced under Sweet coming out of turn four for second on lap 17, but lost the position back trying to manipulate lapped traffic in the next corner. Two laps later, Sweet overtook Madsen for the lead and Schatz was zeroing in on Madsen for second when a caution slowed the action. On the ensuing restart, David Gravel was able to pass Schatz for third and one lap later, Shane Stewart relegated Schatz to fifth with a similar move coming out of turn two. For the next five laps, Schatz lost track position to the top-four and it was apparent Schatz wasn’t fighting with a full arsenal late in the race. He would hold on to finish fifth.
Through 32 of 92 races, Schatz continues to lead the championship standings over Gravel by 76 points. He tops the series in both wins with nine and top-fives with 24.
Jackson Nationals Race Notes:
• Following the Jackson Nationals, Schatz has now competed in 10 WoO events at the facility, scoring two wins and seven top-five finishes.
- Despite going out late in his qualifying group both nights, Schatz turned the third-fastest lap and earned a front-row starting position in heat-race action.
- Schatz, Brad Sweet and Kerry Madsen were the only drivers to finish inside the top-five all three nights of the Jackson Nationals.
- The Madsen brothers, Ian and Kerry, became the 10th and 11th different winners of a WoO A-Feature this season.
- Since winning his most recent WoO A-Feature May 13 at Eldora Speedway, Schatz has scored eight top-five finishes in 10 events, including the last six in a row.
The Outlaws continue their run through the Midwest with their first stop at historic Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on Friday and Saturday. Schatz, a nine-time Knoxville Nationals winner, and the TSR team will look to learn as much as they can in two nights of action at the famed half-mile, dirt oval on the Marion Country Fairgrounds as this will be the only stop at the track prior to the 57th annual Knoxville Nationals in August.