FARGO, N.D. (November 6, 2019) – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series began their 90-plus race season nearly 10 months ago at Volusia Speedway Park in Fla. in February. Since then, the series has crisscrossed the country, making stops from Pa. to Calif. and everywhere in between.
This weekend, the curtain closes on the World of Outlaws’ 41st season at the Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C. The headlining story nearly all season has been the championship points battle. That battle is now more intense than ever with just two races remaining in the 2019 season.
Donny Schatz enters this weekend’s Can-Am World Finals eight points behind Grass Valley, Calif. driver, Brad Sweet.
This is unfamiliar territory for Schatz. In each of the last five seasons, Schatz has clinched the championship before the final weekend of the season. It is also just the second time in seven years that Schatz hasn’t been atop the standings coming into the World Finals.
Given all that, the plan remains simple for Schatz; just go out and win.
“It all comes down to this. The mindset is to go out and win every night, where you’re in this position or not. That’s how we’ve got to 10 championships – trying to win races. That’s the focus,” said Schatz who is in search of his sixth consecutive title and 11th overall. “We don’t play scenarios. We don’t play the points game. Every time we hit the race track we focus on what we need to do. We’re not going to focus on where Brad is at. We are going to focus on what we can do. If we do the right things, it’ll put us in a good spot.”
Schatz leads the series in top fives and is tied for the most top 10 finishes thus far, backed by 11 feature wins in 70 events. Those would be career-best stats for nearly every other driver on the World of Outlaws tour. But Schatz admits this year hasn’t lived up to the performance of past seasons in which he has won 20 or more races.
“It hasn’t been the season we’ve wanted, but here we find ourselves in contention to win another championship. It feels good,” said Schatz. “There were times in the year where we felt like we were extremely behind, but now we are running really well. That says a lot about this team. Everybody is doing their part and doing an exceptional job. We’re excited. Hopefully, we can do the right things this week and finish it off the way we expect to.”
Historically, the Dirt Track at Charlotte has been one of Schatz’s better race tracks. The driver of the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian No. 15 has 13 career wins at the semi-banked four-tenths mile oval since the facility opened in 2000. Over his past 10 starts at the speedway, Schatz has four wins and an average finish of 4.3.
Conversely, Sweet has yet to visit victory lane at the Dirt Track at Charlotte and has an average finish of 8.3 over the last 10 events at the track. If the law of averages holds true this weekend, it would be enough to give Schatz championship No. 11.
Schatz has been involved in two of the closest points battles in World of Outlaws history. In 2009, he won it by 19 points over Jason Meyers. In 2013, he fell shy by 12 to Daryn Pittman.
The 2019 championship race is the closest in series history with two races remaining. If Sweet can claim the title, it would be his first and the second for team-owner Kasey Kahne. If Schatz can come from behind to steal it, it would further cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever wheel a sprint car and get him one step closer to Steve Kinser’s all-time record of 20 World of Outlaws championships.
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: 46
Top Tens: 63
Photo Credit: Speedway Shots