INDIANAPOLIS– For the sixth time in the last eight years, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz is headed to the Bad Boy Buggies World Finals looking to win a World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series championship. In four of those previous five, Schatz has left with the hardware and championship check. By signing in Thursday to compete this weekend, the driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J will become a six-time WoO champion.
Schatz is looking to do more than just sign in Thursday for the three-night World Finals being contested at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Fargo, North Dakota resident is in the midst of one of his best season ever with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” He has won 26 WoO A-Features and is looking to add more to the “W” column. Also, for the first time at the World Finals, Schatz will also be competing in the World of Outlaws Late Model division driving his family owned No. 15 Petro of Fargo/Fastlane Car Wash/Schatz Crossroads Rocket.
Returning to Charlotte will likely only fuel the fire for Schatz as he looks to put an exclamation point on the 2014 campaign. He has been extremely consistent at the 4/10-mile clay oval and enters the weekend on a 35-race top-10 streak. He’s won four of the last six WoO events and finished second in the other two. Second is where he finished when the Outlaws raced at The Dirt Track in May during the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 weekend.
Schatz is the leading feature winner at The Dirt Track with seven career triumphs. He first tasted victory at the state-of-the-art facility in the fall of 2000 and then scored a thrilling win by coming from 10th to first in May 2007. Victories again in the 2008 season finale, May 2010 race and a sweep of the 2011 World Finals highlight his 35 nights of action the track. In last year’s World Finals, Schatz qualified second for both programs before winning Friday’s A-Feature and finishing third in the season finale. He nearly maxed out available points for the weekend but came up 14 short of winning the season championship. That won’t be the case this year as Schatz heads to Charlotte with a 316-point advantage.
The TSR team is looking to finish the season with two more solid runs in the STP machine. Crew chief Ricky Warner, car chief Steve Swenson and crewman Eric Prutzman have put an extremely competitive J&J under Schatz throughout the campaign and their attention to detail has led to Schatz finishing every race. He has earned 48 podium finishes in 86 starts and only finished worse than 11th three times.
The pressure for Schatz may come when he switches rides through the three-night program. Schatz is in his third season driving a Dirt Late Model. He caught the bug following a successful Dirt Late Model debut in the 2012 Prelude to the Dream at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Schatz competed in a handful of regional events during the 2013 season, winning a pair of races before a memorable August night when he won the WoO Sprint Car Series 40-lap A-Feature and the Northern Late Model Association 20-lap feature at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He competed in Arizona to start the season and made his WoO Late Model debut at Hibbing (Minnesota) Raceway in July. A run from 18th to seventh was the result and led to him enter the Knoxville Late Model Nationals. Schatz knows being competitive in such a star-studded field is asking a lot, but he’s excited about the challenge.
World Finals competition begins with a pair of qualifying sessions Thursday night to set the lineups for Friday’s and Saturday’s complete race programs. Each night of action includes heat races and a dash, and will conclude with a 30-lap feature.
On Thursday, the pit gates will open at 11 a.m. EST with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. For the programs Friday and Saturday, the pit gates will open at noon with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Contact Charlotte Motor Speedway at (800) 455-3267 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com to learn more about the Bad Boy Buggies World Finals.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s events can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO STP Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including live results from the track.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J
The season has been an incredible show of consistency for the STP team. What’s the biggest key to maintaining such a high level of performance throughout an entire season?
“We’ve been at this for a long time and your goal is to become this consistent. Night in and night out have a pretty good place to start and just fine-tune things to get better. This team has been together for quite a few years. We’ve worked with J&J Auto Racing on the cars for a long time and with Ron Shaver, who builds our motors. It’s an amazing package and we’ve just tried to get it better and better. We always start the year with the goal of winning the most races. We won 23 last year and that wasn’t enough to get the championship. We felt like we wanted to make sure 23 wins would be enough to win the championship this year. Everyone at TSR put in a lot of long hours to get us here and we all want to continue getting better. We head to Charlotte knowing that we were close in May but didn’t get the job done. We’re looking at this weekend as an opportunity to win two more races.”
This year’s World Finals will provide a new experience for you. What prompted you to compete in both Sprint car and Late Model divisions?
“I started playing around with a Dirt Late Model a couple of years ago after having so much fun in the Prelude at Eldora. We raced around home and I started talking Mark and Josh Richards of Rocket Chassis more and more. We ventured out and ran the Winter Freeze deal in Arizona last year and had some fun. I told my Sprint car team that if I had the championship clinched that I wanted to try the Late Model deal, too. They were all for it and we just went out and got the championship all but clinched. It’s so much fun to come down to Charlotte and know that you have the championship. Last year, we did everything we could to try and make up points but came up short. This year, we won’t have to worry about that but, instead, I get to try and figure out how to compete with the best Dirt Late Model drivers in the world. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge, but I know we’re all looking forward to it.”
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