INDIANAPOLIS – There’s no place better to make a statement than Las Vegas. The lights are bright, the stakes are high and nobody rolls higher when the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series hits the half-mile, dirt oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than six-time and reigning WoO champion Donny Schatz.
The driver of the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) No 15 Bad Boy Buggies J&J leads the Outlaws back to Las Vegas not only as the most recent winner at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but also the leading all-time winner at the facility with eight WoO A-Feature victories. The Fargo, North Dakota racer will look to continue his winning ways there in this year’s FVP Outlaw Showdown Wednesday and Thursday evening before the tour heads to Arizona Saturday night for a battle at USA Raceway in Tucson.
Coming off the 2014 season, which included a career-best 26 WoO A-Feature victories and his sixth WoO championship, Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies crew (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman) are aiming to reach even loftier goals this season. Early success was one goal for a team that historically is at its best from the middle of the summer on. And winning in Las Vegas for the third consecutive season would certainly qualify as a signpost of a strong beginning.
One constant for Schatz throughout his 19-year WoO career has been success in Las Vegas. He is the only driver to compete in all 49 WoO races at the track – 31 A-Features and 18 preliminary programs. His first triumph at the track concluded the 1999 season, and he won again to close the 2004 campaign. He was a two-time Las Vegas winner during the 2006 season – in March and October of that year – which culminated with his first WoO championship. He won again in February 2009, when the Outlaws returned to the high-speed, semi-banked dirt oval after a two-year hiatus, and he’s won the second night in each of the last two Outlaw visits. Consistency has been the key to Schatz’s success in Las Vegas and he enters Wednesday’s race with 14 consecutive top-10 finishes.
After a pair of complete shows in Las Vegas, the focus Saturday turns to the 3/8-mile, dirt oval in Tucson. The track has hosted five previous Outlaw events and Schatz has finished inside the top-six in all five. Schatz had a dominant night at the track in the fall of 2006, when he nearly pulled off a clean sweep. He was the fastest qualifier, won the opening heat, finished second in the dash and led every lap of the 30-lap A-Feature. During each of the last two races in Tucson, Schatz has charged forward, racing from 13th to sixth in March 2013 and 12th to fifth in last year’s race that was contested in extremely high winds. Schatz also spent time at the track earlier this year competing in a dirt Late Model.
With three of the 88 nights of action slated for the 2015 WoO season in the books, Brad Sweet leads the championship standings. Schatz is currently second with 426 points and trails Sweet by four markers. Schatz opened the season by finishing second at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida before winning the second 30-lap A-Feature of the season on Feb. 14. He raced from 17th to 10th in the Volusia finale.
For both programs at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. PST and the grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. For tickets, visit www.lvms.com or call the track at (702) 644-4444.
On Saturday at Tucson, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. MST and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. For tickets, visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com or call (877) 395-8606.
Race fans unable to attend this week’s races 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 Sprint 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 updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
Your season began three weeks ago in Florida with two races with All-Stars and three with the World of Outlaws. Did you accomplish what you wanted to in Florida?
“The answer is no. We wanted to win five races. We only won once and felt like we had two others that were right there for the taking. Wins are what we expect. The guys on this Bad Boy Buggies team obviously did their homework in December and January. We had some success and I know we’ve all spent the past couple of weeks trying to make sure we can be even better out West. It’s always good to get that first win under your belt and allows you to focus on the next one. It’s game on when we get to Las Vegas and I’m excited to get back in the car.”
Your success at The Dirt Track is unmatched. Is there any particular aspect of the track that has enabled you to be so successful there
“I would say there isn’t anything about the track, but more about the team and people I’ve been surrounded by that’s led to the success. It started with that first win in 1999 and, since the end of the 2000 season, we’ve been working with a package that we’ve just kept fine-tuning on. I’ve always liked the big tracks. You can carry a lot of momentum and the track typically will get slicker as the race goes on. That puts it back on the driver and that’s where I like it. I know Rick, Scuba and Eric work hard to give a car that’s going to be there at the end of the race and it’s up to me to bring it home in the top spot. This team thrives on being at our best at the end of the night. We love the challenge and things have worked out really well over the years in Las Vegas. We’re shooting for that to continue this week.”
This week will be the first of many where you compete at different tracks. What’s the biggest difference between The Dirt Track in Las Vegas and USA Raceway in Tucson?
“The main thing is the size. Las Vegas is big and fast but Tucson can be really fast, as well, even though it’s a smaller track. One of the things you like to see in dirt-track racing is multiple grooves and a track that slows down some. The competition is so good these days that you can’t have a track that is locked down and everyone just uses every ounce of horsepower. Both tracks are pretty much out in the open, so wind is a factor, and we’ve seen both tracks become drier and slick. With the Outlaws format, you have to qualify well and then be able to race your way forward. If the surface is right, you can do that at both tracks. We’re excited about being at both tracks. It’s a thrill for us to be out here competing with the World of Outlaws and doing everything we can to win races.”
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