INDIANAPOLIS – In the heat of battle, most competitors don’t consider the historic significance of what they are accomplishing. During the last 19 seasons of competing with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series, Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s Donny Schatz has surpassed a number of milestones racing at dirt tracks all across the United States. When he reaches one, the focus instantly turns to the next one, the same way the six-time and reigning WoO champion shifts his attention to the next race seemingly as soon as he walks out the gate after a night of competing with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
Last April, Schatz led the Outlaws back to historic Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, for the first time since the 2003 WoO season. The famed track was the site of the Outlaws’ first-ever A-Feature back in March 1978 and one where he had yet to visit victory lane. Schatz made a triumphant return to the iconic half-mile dirt oval by racing to victory in the 25-lap A-Feature. The result not only was his first win at the track, but also the 150th WoO A-Feature triumph of his career.
This weekend, the driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J returns to Devil’s Bowl for the two-night Texas Outlaw Showdown with plenty of momentum. Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team are coming off a successful 11-race tour of California that included four victories. They closed the California Outlaw Spring Tour by racing from 16th to fourth last Friday night at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford and taking third Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway.
The Fargo, North Dakota driver has a great deal of appreciation and respect for the history of the Outlaws and those who paved the way for him to follow in their footsteps. One aspect Schatz quickly acknowledged following his Devil's Bowl victory last April was the presence of National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Kenny Woodruff, the crew chief on the car Jimmy Boyd drove to score that inaugural Outlaw main win back in 1978. Woodruff later served the same role at Schatz Motorsports and the combination was extremely successful on the Outlaw Tour for a couple of seasons. The Schatz-Woodruff relationship provided many experiences that helped lay the foundation for Schatz's ascent to one of the best in the sport.
Through 17 of the 88 scheduled 2015 races completed, Schatz leads the championship standings by 23 points over Shane Stewart. With his victory on April 12 at Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway, Schatz reached five WoO A-Feature wins in just 15 races — the quickest he’s earned his fifth triumph in any previous WoO season. No other driver has more than two wins this season and Schatz also leads all drivers with 11 top-fives, 15 top-10s and 93 laps led.
For Friday and Saturday’s races, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.devilsbowl.com or call 972-222-2421.
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:
You’ve raced at dirt tracks all across the country and a number that have been an integral part of the World of Outlaws. How special was it for you to come back and race at Devil’s Bowl last year?
“Places like Devil’s Bowl Speedway are what made me want to be out on the road racing with the Outlaws. I grew up in North Dakota and the Outlaws came to Red River Valley Speedway every summer. That was my one time to get to see my heroes Doug Wolfgang, Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser. You only got to hear about places like Knoxville, Williams Grove, Devil’s Bowl and all the tracks the Outlaws traveled to. Everybody starts out here with a dream and you live that dream by going to all of these historic places. We raced at Devil’s Bowl a lot early in my career, but it was one of the places that was absent from the schedule for a long time. It was great to see it back on the schedule last year. Going down there and seeing all the guys who were there for the very Outlaws race was really special. I worked with Kenny Woodruff early in my career and he was a tremendous mentor. It meant a lot to win that night and it means a lot for the sport to keep racing at tracks with that kind of tradition.”
Navigating through the early part of the WoO schedule is always a challenge. How would you rate the first two and half months of the 2015 season?
“We certainly aren’t satisfied with where we are. This team wants to win every night. Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman want to win just as badly as I do. We’ve had some good nights and some that keep us striving to get better. The mindset has been to continue getting better in situations where we haven’t traditionally been. In the past, we probably didn’t have the best runs through California in the spring and we wanted to change that this year. We made some progress. Now, we’re coming back toward the Midwest and the goal is still the same every night. We have to continue to be better in qualifying. That starts your night and sets up what you have to do from there. We’re always looking at getting better every time we race. There’s still a lot of work to be done and we’ll keep working at it this weekend at Devil’s Bowl.”
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