INDIANAPOLIS – Donny Schatz has started the 2015 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series campaign faster than he has any of his previous 18 seasons of competition with “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” With six wins in the first 18 races, the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver has set a torrid pace at dirt tracks from Florida to California to Texas during the season’s first three months. And the six-time and reigning series champion is determined to keep the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J ahead of the competition as the calendar turns to May.
This weekend, Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman – embark on their first tripleheader weekend of the season as the tour makes its first 2015 run through the Midwest. The first stop is Friday in northeast Oklahoma at the Salina Highbanks, where the Outlaws will make their fourth-ever appearance at the 3/8-mile dirt oval. The series heads northeast to the St. Louis area for Saturday’s annual spring stop at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, then closes the weekend Sunday in southwest Indiana at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt.
Coming off their sixth victory of the season in last Saturday’s Texas Outlaw Showdown at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, Schatz and the TSR team have been able to accomplish an early season goal of returning to the Midwest with momentum. Schatz leads the series with six wins, 113 laps led, four pole positions, 12 top-fives and 16 top-10s. He holds a 26-point advantage over Shane Stewart in the championship standings. The indirect goal was a commitment to becoming better at races where, in the past, the team hasn’t been satisfied with its results. In previous seasons, the early run through California has been a challenge for the team. But four wins in 11 California starts this year is proof the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team is on top of its game.
Since the start of the 2013 season, Schatz has parked his TSR machine in victory lane 55 times, but not once at the venues where he’ll compete this weekend. In fact, he is still chasing his first win at both Salina and Tri-State and has only one victory at I-55. The challenge for the weekend is to change those statistics.
In 2011, the Outlaws made their debut at the Salina Highbanks and, despite not coming away with the victory, Schatz did have the capacity crowd on its feet. He started 18th and charged to second place and was closing on the eventual winner on the final lap. Last April, he had some bad luck while running third in main event, losing air pressure in his right-rear tire. After his crew replaced the tire, he charged from 22nd up to ninth.
Consistent is the best descriptor for Schatz at I-55 over the last decade. Since April 2005, he has finished inside the top-eight in 17 consecutive races. Schatz led all 40 laps of the A-Feature at the high-banked, one-third mile dirt oval in April 2006 to score his only triumph at the track. During the last three seasons, he’s finished on the podium in six consecutive races.
Schatz will carry a three-race winning streak in Indiana with him Sunday when he returns to the Hoosier state. Last fall, he won WoO A-Features at Kokomo Speedway, the Terre Haute Action Track and at Bloomington Speedway. His best finish in 16 career starts at Tri-State Speedway is third, which he has accomplished twice – in 2004 and 2008. The first goal Sunday will be to qualify better than he has the previous two seasons. In 2013, he timed in 27thand 26th, but he was able march forward in both races, finishing 11th and sixth, respectively.
For Friday’s race at Salina, 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 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.salinahighbanksspeedway.com or call 918-434-7223. Saturday at I-55, the pit gates open at 1 p.m. and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. More information is available by visiting www.I55raceway.com or by calling 636-928-1716. For Sunday’s weekend finale at Tri-State, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are slated to begin at 5 p.m. Check out www.tristatespeedway.com or call 812-768-5995 to get more information.
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:
Chasing victories has always been the mantra for you and the Tony Stewart Racing team and you’ve put up six wins faster than you have in any previous season. Has there been one factor that has led to the early-season success?
“The one thing that has made the difference has been this race team. Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman have been working on this car the last three years and have continued to find ways to give me an incredible car to drive. Getting better is something we strive to do and honestly we still feel like we have a long way to go. They put in a lot of time over the winter to have us ready to go to start this season and the car has been extremely fast since we opened the trailer door in Florida. We’ve taken advantage of the situations that have come our way and been able to move forward in all but two races this year. That just goes to show you how good of a job they are doing. We’re all motivated to keep it going as we move into May and the summer months ahead.”
This weekend is sort of a throwback to the old days of the Outlaws with three races in three states in one weekend. Are these the type of challenging weekends you look forward to on the schedule?
“These are the fun weekends for a driver because you get to be on the track three straight nights, but it’s certainly tough on the crew. The tracks are quite a ways apart you have to add in the travel with the regular maintenance. I know my guys are looking forward to the challenge. They left as soon as the race was over last Saturday in Texas drove back to Indiana and are getting ready for the weekend. We’re going to some pretty racy places where anything can happen. We’ll head to Salina with a game plan and try to continue what we’ve been doing most of the season. Qualifying in a good position and move forward every time we hit the track. We see great crowds at all three tracks and we’re hoping to be right up there each night.”
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.