FARGO, N.D. (November 14, 2019) – Despite a valiant comeback in the final two months of the season, Donny Schatz fell shy of claiming his 11th World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship last weekend at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in what was the closest points finish in series history.
Schatz charged from eighth to finish second in the first of two events at the four-tenths mile oval on Friday night. That cut Brad Sweet’s points lead to just two points entering the season finale on Saturday. Schatz had to either win Saturday night’s feature or beat Sweet by two positions to earn the title. Sweet had the tiebreaker in his favor by having the most feature wins throughout the season.
Sweet and Schatz started third and eighth, respectively. Schatz quickly charged into the top five in the early going of the 30-lap main event. Schatz caught and passed Sweet on lap five to take over the fourth position, but Sweet crossed underneath Schatz on the following circuit to regain the spot.
From there, Schatz could not catch Sweet’s No. 49. Sweet went on to finish second, followed by Schatz in third. The difference in the final standings was a mere four points.
After coming away with two podium finishes, how would you assess your World Finals weekend?
“We did everything we could. We got ourselves qualified in a good enough spot to win heat races and get into the dash draw,” said Schatz. “From there, it boils down to what you draw. We drew a five the first night and dug ourselves from a potential 12th starting spot and finished second. That’s about the best you can ask for other than a win. On Saturday, we redrew the six. If we would have drawn a little better, it could have been a different outcome, you never know. That’s what we were plagued with and up against.
“The guys did a great job. They did everything they could. At one point I was able to get past (Sweet), but it was going to take more than that. It was going to take a win to get the championship and we didn’t win. Somedays you win, some days you don’t. It was one of those days we didn’t win.”
With all of the changes and adversity you faced this year, how will you remember 2019?
“To be really honest, at the end of 2018, I crashed on the last night of the year I was getting in the car on December 28th (at Archerfield Speedway in Australia). I went to bed that night thinking, ‘Man, I can’t wait for 2018 to be over.’ Five days later, I woke up to a phone call that my dad was sick and my whole world just changed. Some of the things that you thought were important and some of the things that you thought were bad become reality that they’re really not. It really has changed my whole perspective on the year. You have to respect and appreciate every moment that you have when things are great. I’ve had a lot of great moments over the years and I’m going to have a lot of great moments going forward.
“Does it make 2019 bad? No way, it was still a solid season. I call it a building year. For me and Steve Swenson to go out and win 11 races and to be in contention until the last lap of the last night for a championship battle… how many teams can make changes like that and still not miss a beat? We had a great group of guys with us and that’s what it’s all about. We had fun along the way. We had great partners with us and enjoyed it every bit of the way. Now it’s time for a rebuild.”
The 2020 World of Outlaws season will be here before we know it. What are a few things you’re looking forward to?
“The Ford motor program for the last two and a half years has been in progress. Now it’s here. It’s on the ground and it’s been solid from the start. The people who are working hard on it are incredible. We’ve got a year under our belt with this race team. If we come back with all that again next year, I think it’s going to be great. I don’t know that it’s going to be any different as far as expectations. We want to go out and win a championship and win a lot of races.
“Our goal is to try to help get Tony (Stewart) to where he wants to be in the sport as a driver and as a team owner. It’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s going to be a lot of things happening. It’ll give us more satisfaction than anything if we can make sure to get him to where he wants to be and as competitive as we feel like we are.”
Schatz and the entire Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing team would like to thank Toco Warranty, Ford Performance, Curb Records, Sage Fruit, Absolute Automation & Security and J&J Auto Racing for their continued support.
Top Fives: 48
Top Tens: 66
Photo Credit: Speedway Shots