INDIANAPOLIS – Reaching the pinnacle of any profession is a journey of extreme twists and turns. Many that have attained any kind of lofty status will admit staying there is just as hard, but the challenges are different. Last November, both Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Donny Schatz in the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series were crowned champions and, early in 2015, their results show they are poised to remain on top.
For six of his 19 seasons as a WoO regular, Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s Schatz has begun the season with the target on his back as the reigning WoO champion and driver to beat. The 2015 WoO season is the first in which Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J, carries the title of the winningest active full-time WoO driver following his TSR teammate and 20-time WoO champion Steve Kinser’s reduced racing schedule. And so far, he’s carrying on the winning tradition at a faster rate than any of his previous seasons as a member of the “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
This week, Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team conclude an 11-race California tour that has already been an incredible success. They will look to continue their winning ways with races Friday at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford and Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway.
Coming out of the gate fast has not been something Schatz has experienced during his Outlaw career, but this season, just like Harvick, who has two wins, four seconds and an eighth-place run in the first seven races, the North Dakota driver is in the midst of the best start of his career. With four victories in the first nine starts in the Golden State, Schatz has reached the five-win mark in just 15 races. His victory Sunday at Calistoga Speedway gave him five wins on April 12. In 2009, he earned his fifth win on May 9 at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The previous two seasons, which both have ended with Schatz establishing a career high in wins, took until May 27 in 2013 and May 31 in 2014.
Both Schatz and Harvick drive for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and are associated with Bad Boy Buggies, a leader in off-road utility vehicles for hunting and outdoor lifestyles. While Schatz looks to score his sixth win of the 2015 season and 108th driving for TSR just 85 miles north of Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield, Harvick will look to win his third of 2015 and first as a Stewart-Haas Racing driver on the high-banks of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, a track where Schatz won a WoO race back in 2001.
Schatz has made 14 previous starts at Keller Auto Speedway, a 3/8-mile dirt oval. He won the 35-lap A-Feature at the track in April 2013 and, last year, he charged from 18th to finish fifth. He has made 15 starts at Perris Auto Speedway, the half-mile semi-banked dirt oval located in Southern California. Perris is one of the few tracks where Schatz has more than 10 starts without a victory. His best finish of third came in 2013. Last April, he raced from 12th to sixth.
With his strong start, Schatz has a 30-point advantage in the WoO championship standings with 15 of the 88 scheduled nights of racing in the books. His nine top-fives, 13 top-10s and 100 laps led all lead the series.
For Friday’s race at Keller Auto Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. PDT while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com/Tickets or call 877-395-8606.
Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. while the grandstands open at 3 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com/Tickets or call 877-395-8606.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’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 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
With two wins in three starts last week, you are now up to four wins on the Outlaws California Tour. Are you surprised with the success you are having in California?
“Nothing the guys on this Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance race team does surprises. Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman are the best in the business. They work to find ways to for us to get better. California hasn’t been a strong suit for us early in season’s past and, when you aren’t good at something, you have to put in the time and effort to get better. We spent time fine-tuning things to the point where we felt like we were gaining on it. We made big strides and won in Stockton. We had a really good night in Chico and won the Mini Gold Cup. Going to Placerville for the first time and driving up through to win, and being really good at Calistoga – the only big track we’ve raced on out here — that was a result of everyone on this team pushing to get better. No one is satisfied. There is still so much work to be done. It’s rewarding for everyone associated with this team, from Tony to our marketing partners, to be able to have such a good start and put five wins on the board so far."
What are your thoughts of the last two tracks on the 11-race California Tour — Keller Auto Speedway and Perris Auto Speedway?
“I enjoy racing at both of them. We’ve been going to both since early in my career. We finally won at Hanford a couple years back and we’re still trying to get one at Perris. Hanford is a track that can be tricky because it slows down and gets slicker. I like those kind of tracks. I’ve always wanted to put a complete night together and win at Perris. Our engine builder Ron Shaver and his guys are from Los Angeles and that’s the closest we race to his shop. We’ve been decent there, but not quite good enough, yet. I know with the people we’ve got surrounding this team we’re going to have a great shot to get the job done Saturday night.”
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.