INDIANAPOLIS – One good thing about racing on dirt is that you never know exactly how the conditions are going to be from one night to the next. It’s one of the elements that makes the competing with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series so difficult. For the past 19 seasons, Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz has been circling the country becoming not only one of the best drivers in the sport, but also one of the most fanatical in understanding every aspect of dirt-track racing.
This weekend, the driver of the TSR Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J returns to familiar territory, Cedar Lake Speedway near New Richmond, Wisconsin for the Outlaw Sprint Car Showdown. It’s the first time the 3/8-mile dirt oval will host a two-night program and Schatz, who spent a lot of nights competing at the track early in his career, is looking to continue their remarkable 2015 campaign with his TSR team.
The six-time and reigning WoO champion has won eight of the last 10 WoO races and 19 of the first 42 this season. The numbers the Schatz and the team have put up since early May are staggering. In 21 races, they have won 13 times and finished second five times. The incredible start has pushed their lead in the championship standings to 254 points and has them on top in top-fives with 32, top-10sa with 39, laps led with 373, and KSE Hard Charger Awards with six.
Those are numbers that Schatz as a 16-year-old from Minot, North Dakota couldn’t even dream of putting up back in 1995 when he was either “winning it or crashing it” as a WISSOTA competitor. He learned something with each trip to the track located just east of the Twin Cities that year and the following season earned the WISSOTA championship. The next challenge was the World of Outlaws in 1997 and he spent many nights trying to catch his idols Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser and learning from Dave Blaney, Mark Kinser and Danny Lasoski. His first win came in his second season back in 1998 and he contended for a WoO A-Feature at Cedar Lake for the first time two years later.
Schatz won a WoO A-Feature at Cedar Lake for the first time in June 200, leading the final 20 laps of the 35-lap finale. He made it two straight the following summer. Last season, he started second and dominated the event leading the final 34 laps to capture his third triumph at the place where there is a strong contingent of fans who have enjoyed watching his ascent to the sport’s pinnacle position.
Cedar Lake has been hosting the WoO annually since 1983 and the goal this weekend for Schatz is to continue his trend of winning races this season at some of the most historic dirt ovals. Schatz has already won at iconic venues Knoxville Raceway, Eldora Speedway, Williams Grove, Knoxville, Silver Dollar, Calistoga and Devil’s Bowl.
The strength of the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance crew – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman – is experience. The trio has been intact for the past three seasons and continue fine tuning their program. The car has finished the last 144 consecutive WoO races dating back to the fall of 2013 and the team seemingly gets stronger each night. The more time they have at a facilit, the better their chances are. The Outlaws have had multiple-night events at seven tracks this season. Schatz has come out victorious at least one of the nights at five of them and swept the two nights at Eldora Speedway.
Saturday and Sunday at Cedar Lake Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.cedarlakespeedway.com or call 620-225-3434.
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 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
For the first time in nearly a month, you have six days between races. With the way you and your team are performing, is this break in the action something you wanted?
“We enjoy racing as much as we can and love being at the track as much as possible, but these six days between races are good for everyone. You have to consider the amount of travel involved. My guys left after racing two nights in Dodge City and drove back to Indy and didn’t get there until Sunday afternoon. It’s important for everyone to get some time with their families and away from the racecar for a little while. It’s a time to go back to the shop and prepare for what’s ahead in July. We have a lot of races and some big ones in there. I’ve had a few days at home to get caught up on some things and am going to race a couple nights with the World of Outlaws Late Models. I know Saturday its back to business at Cedar Lake.”
Speaking of Cedar Lake, when you were a teenager just getting started racing Sprint car, did you ever imagine that you would one day return as six-time WoO champion?
“I just wanted to show up there as a World of Outlaws driver. It was the most important thing to me. My passion. My drive. I was fortunate my parents gave me the opportunity to race. They pushed me to be the best I could. We had some people help us early in my career that taught me the right way to do things. I had the dream of being an Outlaw and, once I got that far, it was just about getting better and trying to win races. Coming back to Cedar Lake is always something I enjoy. I appreciated all those nights early in my career learning how to get through traffic. Learning that you have to keep digging. I’m still learning today. I’m fortunate Tony Stewart has surrounded me with an incredible group of people so I can come back there as an Outlaw. I’m excited we get to race there twice and am looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces.”
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
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine