INDIANAPOLIS (May 30, 2017) – There are a number of tradition-filled events that are part of the annual World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series schedule. For only the second time in the series’ 40-year history, the Jackson Nationals at Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex will be part of the 92-race campaign, and Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz sees it as a golden opportunity.
Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance J&J, has been part of “The Greatest Show on Dirt” for the past 20 seasons, but this weekend will be his first opportunity as an Outlaw to come out of the three-night 39th annual AGCO Jackson Nationals $25,000 richer. The eight-time and reigning WoO champion has racked up 238 career WoO A-Feature wins since joining the tour in 1997, including a pair of wins at Jackson. But this weekend marks his first opportunity to add a Jackson Nationals triumph to his impressive list of accomplishments.
The first and only previous Jackson Nationals that was held under WoO sanction was won by Sprint car icon Steve Kinser in 1988. Any time a driver can add his or her name to a list that includes Kinser is a big deal, and becoming the second driver in WoO history to conquer the Jackson Nationals would be a great start to June. Schatz would not only like to join Kinser as a WoO winner in the event, he would also like to join the ranks of his childhood hero Doug Wolfgang and the likes of Bobby Davis, Jr., Bobby Allen, Rickey Hood, and Sammy Swindell as a Jackson Nationals winner.
Schatz is no stranger to the half-mile, dirt oval where he first earned a trip to victory lane on May 1, 1996 as an 18-year-old. He finished second the following week and came back later in the summer to score his second win at the track during a WISSOTA-sanctioned event. Schatz would conclude that season as the WISSOTA champion and, the following year, he began his WoO career.
The Fargo, North Dakota resident has competed in seven previous WoO events at Jackson. After finishing ninth in September 2004, he finished second to Daryn Pittman late in the 2005 campaign. One year later, Schatz scored an Outlaw victory at Jackson, just one month before he claimed his first WoO championship. In June 2014, Schatz picked up his second WoO triumph at the track. He has finished inside the top-10 in all seven WoO events at Jackson, including his run from 14th to sixth in June 2016.
Schatz and the TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance crew of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti are coming off a busy month of May. They raced 11 times in May across the map, starting with a May 3 victory at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Missouri and concluding with Monday’s third-place finish at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.
Schatz is coming off a pair of top-five finishes during the Outlaws’ first battle with the Pennsylvania Posse last week. He started the month of May with victories in three of the first four nights of action, the most recent being during the #LetsRaceTwo finale at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway. With 29 of 91 scheduled races this season complete, Schatz maintains the lead in the championship standings with 4,094 points and holds a 68-point advantage over David Gravel.
For all three nights of the Jackson Nationals, the pit gates open at 2 p.m. CDT and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. with qualifying to follow at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit jacksonmotorplex.com or call 605-359-4955.
Race fans unable to attend this week’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live video is available through pay-per-view for Friday’s event at The Dirt Track, or fans can listen free to all three races as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information.
Fans are encouraged to follow the progress of Schatz, TSR and the No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J throughout the campaign on the web and social media. More information can be found at www.TonyStewartRacing.com, www.arcticcat.com, and www.donnyschatzmotorsports.com.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J:
The weekend is your first opportunity to compete in the Jackson Nationals as a member of the World of Outlaws. For someone who grew up in the region, this has to be a big thing?
“We’re looking forward to adding a big race like the Jackson Nationals to our schedule. It’s one of those races growing up in North Dakota that you heard about. Doug Wolfgang was one of my heroes and he won it a few times. It’d be an honor to join the list of winners of that race. We have had some good runs there in the past and I’m excited about getting to race three consecutive nights. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible group of people and, when you can continue fine-tuning things the way Rick (Warner), Scuba (Steve Swenson) and Brad (Mariscotti) do, our chances of getting better improve. We have to make progress each of the first two nights in order to have a chance Saturday, but that’s what it’s all about. You can’t just show up and race for the big trophy. There’s a lot of work to be done and I’m awfully excited about this opportunity.”
After barnstorming from the Great Plains, up and down the East Coast and back to Indiana, the month of May is behind you and it’s full steam ahead in June. What’s the significance of starting June strong with three good finishes at Jackson this weekend?
“This team is all about winning and getting better. We started the season great but haven’t been quite where we wanted to be most of the last month. That’s all behind us and the focus turns to Jackson. It’s a big track and that gives us a chance to work on that part of our program. Three nights on the big track at Jackson before we make our way to Knoxville in two weeks. I know Rick, Scuba and Brad have been working extremely hard and they are the most competitive group of guys I’ve ever been around. To have a chance Saturday, you have to be good every time you are on the track leading up to the feature. It’s a points deal, so everything counts. We’ll just go in there with the attitude of winning hot laps and see where can go from there.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine