INDIANAPOLIS – Across most of America, the days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and that familiar Alice Cooper song “School’s Out” seems to hit home with just about kid who’s ready to cruise into summer. For Donny Schatz and the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team, the first third of the 2015 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series campaign has been an honor-roll-caliber performance and the goal is to continue their current pace right into June and throughout the summer as they crisscross America chasing checkered flags.
This week, the Outlaws return to the Heartland for three races and Schatz is leading the way behind the wheel of Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J. The action begins Wednesday with the Outlaws’ annual stop at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, continues with Friday’s NAPA Auto Parts Outlaw Showdown at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska, and concludes Saturday with the O’Reilly Auto Parts presents the Outlaws at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.
Schatz, the six-time and reigning WoO champion, has won five of the previous eight WoO A-Features and returns to Kokomo as the most recent Outlaw winner at the quarter-mile dirt oval. Last September, Schatz led the final 35 laps of the 40-lap A-Feature to capture his first career win at the track on way to a career-best 26 WoO A-Features wins and a sixth title. He returns to the central Indiana facility with a series-high 11 victories in 2015 and a 105-point lead in the championship standings through 29 of the scheduled 88 races this season.
The race is less than an hour from TSR’s race shop in Brownsburg and offers the crew made up of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman one of the shortest tows to a track they’ll make all season. The team will head to Kokomo early Wednesday for an appearance at the J.D. Byrider store in there – 1186 E. Markland Ave. – from noon to 2 p.m. EDT in advance of the race.
The weekend doubleheader in the Plains follows with the Outlaws’ second consecutive June appearance at I-80 Speedway, located east of Lincoln in Nebraska. The Outlaws made regular visits to the half-mile, dirt oval in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Schatz was fast at the track last season, qualifying third overall before winning the dash and chasing Joey Saldana throughout the 30-lap A-Feature.
Schatz has already added the Stockton (Calif.) Dirt Track and Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway this year to the list of facilities where he’s scored an Outlaw triumph during his 19-year WoO career. He’d like to add both I-80 and Lakeside this weekend. He has competed at Lakeside in each of the previous five seasons and a pair of sixth-place finishes in 2010 and 2011 have been the best results.
Last weekend, Schatz charged from 15th to sixth at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park before Mother Nature washed out Saturday’s scheduled event at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan. The I-96 race has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 24.
For Wednesday’s race at Kokomo Speedway, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. EDT and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit kokomospeedway.net or call 765-459-3877.
Friday at I-80 Speedway, Saturday at I-96 Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.i-80speedway.com or call 402-659-3301.
Saturday at Lakeside Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit lakesidespeedway.net or call 913-299-9206.
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:
What is it like for you and your team to race at Kokomo with it being so close to Indianapolis and the TSR race shop?
“It’s definitely something we all enjoy. I appreciate all the racing heritage in Indiana. It’s the home of the Indy 500 and a lot of great racecar drivers, including my boss. We are based in Brownsburg and take a lot of pride in winning races in the team’s home state. Kokomo is always challenging. It’s a smaller track than a lot of the tracks we compete at. One end has a little bit different shape to it, so you have to be on your game there every lap. Like any dirt track, you never know what the track will do and the surface is never the same twice. We’ve had some exciting shows there in the past. Last fall, we had a great night and everybody on the TSR team went home happy.”
With what you and your Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team have accomplished the past couple of years and how you’ve started this season, it seems pretty clear you guys are the hunted every night. Do you enjoy being in that role?
“It’s fun having the bullseye on your back. It’s been a familiar situation for the whole Tony Stewart Racing team for quite a while. Tony Stewart has surrounded us with great people – from marketing partners like Bad Boy Buggies and Chevrolet Performance, to the companies and the suppliers, to the guys who work on this car every day so we can have a chance to compete for wins. The race team works awfully hard to try and make sure it’s better than everyone else. They try to do the things they need to do to make me comfortable in the racecar and win races. When you can set your goals for something and work hard at it and succeed, there is nothing better than that. It’s a complete team effort and we’re all motivated to keep getting better and stay in that position.”
About Bad Boy Buggies®
Bad Boy Buggies® is a leader in off-road utility vehicles for hunting and outdoor lifestyles. Bad Boy Buggies pioneered the category of electrically powered four-wheel-drive vehicles, ideal for hunting and outdoor recreation due to their silent, odorless operation and environmentally friendly, emissions-free drivetrains.
Today, the Bad Boy Buggies product line ranges from four-wheel-drive electric hunting machines such as the Recoil®, a fully electric, four-wheel-drive vehicle with an innovative, highly efficient 72-volt AC electric drivetrain, to the Work Series of diesel- and gas-powered utility vehicles, including the Bad Boy Buggies XD, a versatile four-wheel-drive, diesel-powered utility vehicle with a total capacity of 1,600 pounds.
About Chevrolet Performance®
Driven by more than 100 years of motorsports heritage, Chevrolet Performance fuels the passions of automotive enthusiasts through high-performance vehicles, parts and racing. Performance cars include Camaro SS, SS 1LE, ZL1, Z/28 and the COPO Camaro. Chevrolet Performance parts include crate engines, transmissions, controllers and street-level components. Chevrolet competes in NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, IndyCar and a variety of circle track racing series.
More information can be found at: www.chevrolet.com/performance
– TSC –
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine