Trent Gower photo.

Fargo, N.D. (April 2, 2024) – Donny Schatz and the rest of the NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws series regulars continued to battle weather early on in the 2024 campaign as another two-day weekend was shortened to just one race but Schatz made the most of his appearance at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Kansas, charging from 12th to third, pulling within striking distance of the series point lead.

Following Friday’s cancellation of the debut at Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee, OK due to high winds, Schatz and his crew had to overcome some adversity early in the night at 81 Speedway as fuel pick-up issues on the CarQuest / Ford Performance No. 15 led to a change of the fuel cell.

With little to no laps in his hot lap session, Schatz returned to the track and immediately put down the fastest time early in qualifying group two, eventually finishing fourth in the group.

A third place run in his heat race placed Schatz in the 12th starting spot in the 30-lap main event. Schatz started moving forward from the drop of the green and never ran a lap outside the top ten.

Schatz ran sixth following a lap 11 red flag which led to an open red after Gio Scelzi flipped in turn one. Schatz moved into the top five just past the halfway point and moved from fifth to third following the final caution on lap 18.

Schatz and fellow title contender, David Gravel, traded second and third in the final laps with Schatz finishing on the podium with a third place finish. Rico Abreu took the win. 

“The race track was pretty demanding and tricky. We were able to (pass) guys on the bottom there as the race went on. I tried everything I could to stay with Rico. We could hang in there but couldn’t quite capitalize on it. We would hit traffic and I thought, ‘Well I might as well try something here and see if he makes a mistake or maybe I can get a run on the bottom.’ but that ended up costing us a spot. When you’re trying to win, you’re really not concerned about finishing second, third or fourth – it’s really all the same. All in all, it was a good night. We qualified well but battled a few gremlins all night. The guys built a new car and you’re going to have that, but this team kept fighting and we got a podium out of it. We’ll keep digging and come back next week and try to get a win.”

Schatz’s charge brought him to within 18 markers of Gravel for the series point lead as Schatz’s hopes for an 11th series championship remain strong as the season heads into its third month.

The series returns to action this weekend with a seventh appearance for the Greatest Show on Dirt at US 36 Speedway in Osborn, MO. Schatz has yet to win at the three-eighths mile oval but has three top fives and four top tens in six previous races at the track.

The series rounds out the weekend with another scheduled appearance at a new track at Arrowhead Speedway in Colcord, OK.

Schatz and the entire Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing team would like to thank all of their great partners for their continued support – Carquest Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, Curb Records, Ford Performance, Sage Fruit, Mobil 1, Absolute Automation & Security, J&J Auto Racing, Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts

2024 Stats:
Races: 9
Wins: 1
Top Fives: 4
Top Tens: 9