Closing With a Bang in Charlotte
INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 2, 2015) – “This is one not many people will forget” – Words used on numerous occasions describing the remarkable 2015 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series campaign Tony Stewart-Curb Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and his Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team will conclude this weekend at the Bad Boy Buggies World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Schatz will not only be crowned WoO champion for the seventh time Saturday night, but the driver of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J will be looking to cap the best season of his 19-year WoO career with a pair of victories at the 4/10-mile, dirt oval.
And for the second consecutive season, he will be pulling double duty at the World Finals by competing in the World of Outlaws Late Model division driving his family owned No. 15 Petro of Fargo/Fastlane Car Wash/Schatz Crossroads Rocket.
Schatz admits he does not want this historic season to come to an end, but he is looking forward to returning to Charlotte, where he captured one of this season’s 31 WoO A-Feature victories in May run in conjunction with NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 weekend. After earning last year’s WoO championship on the strength of 26 wins, Schatz and the TSR 15 team – made up of crew chief Ricky Warner, car chief Steve Swenson and crewman Eric Prutzman – set their expectations extremely high and were poised to improve everywhere they raced this season. The wins have come at tracks of all shapes and sizes and their consistency has been unmatched. Schatz has finished every lap of the last 176 races and the team is just two races from completing its second consecutive season without a DNF (Did Not Finish).
The state-of-the-art facility at Charlotte Motor Speedway has been a favorite for Schatz since the track opened in May 2000. Schatz led laps in the feature during the first appearance by “The Greastest Show on Dirt” and won the third WoO race contested at the track. He leads all drivers with eight career wins at The Dirt Track. When the lights are the brightest on his No. 15, Schatz always seems to come up big in Charlotte. He raced from 10th to victory in May 2007. He capped his first season driving for TSR in 2008 by leading all 30 laps of the season finale. And he closed the 2011 WoO season by sweeping the World Finals. In last year’s season finale, he was battling Kerry Madsen for third early in the main event when the two made contact. He returned to action and brought the standing-room-only crowd to its feet by racing back through the field from 23rd to third.
Schatz comes into the World Finals with plenty of momentum. After closing the month of September with a last-corner pass of Daryn Pittman at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan to become only the second driver in WoO history to reach the 30-win-season milestone, Schatz finished second in the Williams Grove National Open, won his third consecutive WoO A-Feature at Rolling Wheels Raceway in New York, and finished on the podium at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway to give him 52 top-three finishes in 73 starts.
The extremely competitive Schatz made history last year by becoming the first driver to make both WoO Sprint Car Series and WoO Dirt Late Model feature events in the World Finals. In last year’s event, Schatz raced his No. 15 from 17th to ninth. This season, his schedule has been more demanding and he’s only been able to race the full-fendered car just a handful of times. The highlight came in his home state when he battled for the lead late in the race and ultimately finished third at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Schatz realizes it’s going to be tough to duplicate last year’s feat of making both features with such a star-studded field, but he is excited for the challenge.
World Finals competition begins with a pair of qualifying sessions Thursday night to set the lineups for Friday’s and Saturday’s complete race programs. Each night of action includes heat races and a dash and will conclude with a 30-lap feature.
On Thursday, the pit gates will open at 11 a.m. with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. For the programs Friday and Saturday, the pit gates will open at noon with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Contact Charlotte Motor Speedway at (800) 455-3267 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com to learn more about the Bad Boy Buggies World Finals.
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:
You’ve been asked all season what has made this year different than last season. Have you been able to pinpoint the key to another career-best season?
“We’ve said all along that there is no substitute for hard work and that’s where it all starts. Two years ago, we won a lot of races but came up short in the championship by 14 points. That motivated us to get better in areas where we felt like we weren’t performing to our potential. We made great strides last year and won the championship and more races than we ever have before. After the season, we talked about some places where we wanted to improve. It’s how this organization is, starting with Tony Stewart. We all have the desire to continue getting better. The offseason was key and, once we got rolling, we never stopped trying to get better. We’ve spent the past six weeks trying to get better for next year. Being surrounded by people with the same will to win is pretty powerful. We’ve got a lot of work to do and, when you see results of hard work, it makes you want to keep working harder.”
For the last eight years, you’ve closed the World of Outlaws season in Charlotte and you’ve been extremely successful. What is it about racing at Charlotte that brings out the best in you and your team?
“The biggest reason we’ve had success in Charlotte is because of the group of people I get to race for. Charlotte is home to NASCAR, and being able to drive for Tony Stewart gives us a lot of pride. We want to win every place we race but, when you get to Charlotte, you can feel how important the race is. It’s a great venue to have our marketing partners Bad Boy Buggies and Chevrolet Performance come out and be part of what we get to do. The World Finals has become a really important race on the schedule. Fortunately, we’ve been able to come to Charlotte and close out a championship quite a few times and everyone can appreciate how hard they worked to earn the title. We are always focused on winning the next race but, when we get to Charlotte, there are only two races left in the season. Those two we want to win and carry that momentum into next year.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine