INDIANAPOLIS (July 17, 2017) – The late Earl Baltes’ vision for dreaming big lives on, and one of his many imprints on short-track racing takes center stage this weekend. The 34th annual Kings Royal at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio culminates a weekend of action for the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series with the crowning of a king.
The $50,000-to-win event is one of the crown jewels in Sprint car racing, and Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz is looking to defend his thrilling victory in last year’s event. The eight-time and reigning WoO champion scored his third career Kings Royal triumph to kick off the “Month of Money” and is trying to become the first driver in event history to score consecutive wins in the event as known as the Royal Rumble.
The Kings Royal has come a long way from its inaugural running in the summer 1984, when appropriately Steve Kinser, the King of the Outlaws, won Baltes’ first $50,000 payday. Kinser left the famous half-mile, high-banked dirt oval in western Ohio with a shoebox full of cash after outlasting Shane Carson. Schatz didn’t leave with a shoebox full of cash last July, of course, but he was part of another epic battle in what’s recognized as one of the most intense one-day Sprint car shows in the world.
The goal every night for Schatz and his TSR crew of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti is to find a way to be in position to win at the end of the race. During the first half of the 2017 season, they have found victory lane 13 times, including the second night of the #LetsRaceTwo event at Eldora in May. Last year’s formula for success in the Kings Royal was continued progress throughout the weekend and the team being its best when it mattered most.
For the second consecutive year, the Kings Royal weekend consists of three nights of racing culminating with Saturday’s 40-lap Kings Royal main event. Last year, Schatz stalked David Gravel in the Joker’s Wild 30-lap A-Feature for the win and, in the Knight Before the Kings Royal, he tracked down Daryn Pittman, but he finished second both races. In the Kings Royal, Schatz passed early leader Tim Shaffer and fought off a late challenge by Rico Abreu to become only the fourth driver in Kings Royal history with three or more wins.
The TSR team comes into the event on the heels of scoring three consecutive podium finishes last weekend before racing from 16th to seventh in Tuesday night’s Brad Doty Classic at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. Schatz currently leads the championship chase by 74 points over Brad Sweet with 45 of the 92 scheduled nights of action complete.
THE KINGS ROYAL
Since splashing onto the scene in the 1996 Kings Royal, Schatz has been part of the last 21 Kings Royal weekends. He made a name from himself as a 19-year-old rookie in that first appearance by not only making the field, but also by finishing eighth in front of a standing-room-only crowd and a national television audience. He scored his first top-five in 2002 after charging from 21st to fourth and won his first Kings Royal in dominating fashion in 2007. Schatz became a two-time Kings Royal winner in 2009 after out-dueling Dale Blaney. In 2013, he challenged Brad Sweet for the top spot and made a run at winner Kerry Madsen in 2014. Schatz was on a mission in 2015 after taking the lead from Tim Shaffer on lap 10 and paced the field for the next 25 laps before a mechanical issue derailed his run to victory.
Throughout the first 10 seasons of the Schatz and TSR relationship, the team has delivered incredible results and has done so with successful partnerships. The team opened the 2017 campaign debuting the Arctic Cat and Ford Performance colors by winning a pair of Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions races in Florida and four of the first five WoO races. For this weekend’s Kings Royal, TSR and Schatz will carry the Textron Off Road brand on the TSR No. 15 Textron Off Road/Ford Performance/Curb J&J for the first of a select number of events during the team’s quest for the 2017 WoO championship. Earlier this spring, Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., a Textron Inc., company, incorporated Arctic Cat as part of its future powersports brand portfolio. Arctic Cat’s legacy and heritage live on in the powerful Alterra™, Wildcat™ and Prowler™ products and will join Textron Off Road’s existing Stampede® side-by-side in the company’s family of off-road vehicles. The iconic Arctic Cat brand, built on decades of performance and leadership in snowmobiles, will remain in use in the company’s innovative, high-performance snowmobile product lines.
ENTER TO WIN A DONNY SCHATZ-THEMED HDX
Winning races and a World of Outlaws championship isn’t the only goal in 2017 for TSR, Arctic Cat and Donny Schatz. There is shared passion to reach greatness without limits. And fans are encouraged to join the ultimate limitless ride by entering to win a customized, one-of-a-kind, Donny Schatz-themed Arctic Cat HDX 700 through Oct. 1 online at www.arcticcat.com/donnyschatzhdx for the chance to win the customized all-terrain vehicle by random draw.
The grand-prize winner will receive a trip for two to the Outlaws’ season-ending World Finals in Charlotte, North Carolina, including participation in a prerace ceremony. The winner will receive tickets to the World Finals and receive the keys to his or her Donny Schatz-themed HDX from the eight-time champion during pre-event ceremonies.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: ELDORA SPEEDWAY
- Schatz made his Outlaw debut at Eldora Speedway in the 12th annual Kings Royal in 1996, which was aired live on The Nashville Network.
- He is one of seven drivers to have won both the Kings Royal and Historical Big One.
- In 21 Kings Royal starts, Schatz has three wins, 10 top-fives and 16 top-10s.
- In the #LetsRaceTwo finale in May 2017, Schatz led all 30 laps of the A-Feature to score an early season win at Eldora for the fourth time in his career. He also won in May 2008, 2009 and 2015.
- In five of his eight WoO championship seasons, he has at least one victory at Eldora – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015 and 2016.
- Schatz has made 106 career WoO starts at the track, 13 of those classified WoO preliminary feature programs. He scored a preliminary feature win in April 2003. Schatz has 30 top-five finishes and 71 top-10s.
- With his victory in May, Schatz ranks fifth all-time in WoO A-Feature wins at the track with eight, trailing Steve Kinser (35), Sammy Swindell (21), Joey Saldana (12) and Doug Wolfgang (10).
- In 26 starts at Eldora since the 2012 WoO season, Schatz has three wins, 15 top-fives and 23 top-10s in 24 starts.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: 2017 WOO SEASON
- Through 45 of 92 scheduled races in the 2017 WoO campaign, Schatz leads the championship standings with 6,368 markers and holds a 74-point advantage over Brad Sweet.
- Schatz leads the series with 13 wins and 35 top-five finishes. His 39 top-10s are second most behind the 40 of Gravel and Brad Sweet.
• Schatz has raced to victory at Volusia Speedway Park, The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Eldora Speedway and Knoxville Raceway.
For all three nights at Eldora, the pit gates open at 11 a.m. EDT. The grandstands will open at 2 p.m. Thursday and noon Friday and Saturday. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit eldoraspeedway.com or call 937-338-3815.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live video is available on a pay-per-view basis and free 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 second half of the season is underway and now you have some of the most important races coming up. Is it hard to continue focusing on the season-long goal of winning a championship during the next month of races?
“You still have to just look at every race by itself. You can only race in one of them at a time. We know it’s Kings Royal week and that means you have about four weeks of some pretty intense racing before the tour takes you West and on the down slope of the season. Every night matters out here. We started the season and won a lot of races and have had a few spells where the finishes haven’t matched our expectations. You just have to keep digging. There are some really big races coming up and honestly they are just as important in the championship chase. But if you can win races like the Kings Royal, the Don Martin Memorial and the Knoxville Nationals, you know your program is trending in the right direction. You have season goals, race goals and nightly goals. I’m lucky to be out here doing what I love and fortunate that Tony (Stewart) has surrounded me with incredible people. My crew is the most competitive group of people I know and they work extremely hard every day trying to put us in the best position possible. We work with marketing partners like Textron, Arctic Cat and Ford Performance in one of the most brand-loyal sports there is out there. There is still a lot to accomplish this season and we’re focused on this weekend at Eldora.”
With a 92-race schedule, there isn’t much time to put special emphasis on certain races. They all count toward the championship, but are there races that have special meaning?
“I can say it’s just another one of the 92 races on our schedule, but Saturday afternoon, when you leave the drivers meeting and make your way down into the pits, you know it’s not. That’s one of the fun things about it. The people go crazy and there is just so much energy. It’s high stakes and high rewards. It’s the Kings Royal. One of those races that everyone wants to win. You want your name on the T-shirt. You want to put on that crown at the end of the night. It’s once a year and, yeah, we’ll head down the road and race again Tuesday but, the buildup this weekend and ultimately when you go out to qualify, it’s a different kind of feeling. A lot of guys kind of go out of their element at times and you have to keep that in mind. It’s still Sprint car racing, so you don’t have too many opportunities. We’re just looking to put ourselves in a position. We’re racing for $50,000. It’s not supposed to be easy. The main thing is for me and my team to focus on what’s going on with our car and the racetrack. That’s the best plan of attack. We’re excited to have the opportunity and we simply want to make the most of it.”