At one point in time Donny Schatz was a North Dakota kid in the stands watching races as Sprint Car dreams bloomed within his mind. Now, he’s a 500-time Sprint Car Feature winner.

He fought through early struggles that every driver combats. He began to collect some checkered flags in the 1990s. He ascended to the highest level of the sport with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and eventually became the most dominant force with the Series for a stretch. Wins on the sport’s biggest stages at the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal, National Open piled up along with so many more. And on Monday at Volusia Speedway Park, he made his 500th trip to Victory Lane and 312th with the World of Outlaws.

The 10-time Series champion lined up fourth on the grid, got a strong start, and was at the right place at the right time when misfortune struck a leading Michael Kofoid. A shredded tire gifted Schatz the lead, and he never looked back on his way to win number 500.

Volusia has been a helpful racetrack for Schatz on his path to 500. Monday’s Bike Week Jamboree marked his 24th overall Sprint Car victory at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile.” The driver of the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15 has earned 15 of those with The Greatest Show on Dirt. Volusia is the fourth winningest track on Schatz’s World of Outlaws résumé, trailing only Williams Grove Speedway, Knoxville Raceway, and Eldora Speedway.

But even with the enormous magnitude of the achievement, it was business as usual for Schatz when the race concluded. He’s not focused on any milestones. He’s focused on getting the next win and the many more that will surely follow.

“I really don’t want to think about it,” Schatz said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of years left in me. I’ve got a lot of good racing left in me because I still love to race. That’s the important part. Numbers are numbers. That’s the stuff that I’m probably going to roll over to Steve Kinser’s bus someday when we’re sitting here at Volusia watching our kids or our kids’ kids and we’ll have talks about it. But for now, it’s just a number you don’t even want to think about. I’ve been very fortunate to race with a lot of great people and have great partners behind us.”

The front row consisting of Sheldon Haudenschild and Buddy Kofoid brought the field to green for the 25-lapper. The outside line proved to be the place to be as Kofoid blasted by Haudenschild for the lead while Schatz ripped ahead of both Giovanni Scelzi and Haudenschild to take second from the fourth starting spot.

As the opening laps clicked away Kofoid set a torrid pace in the Roth Motorsports #83. He remained glued to the high side and on rails. Behind him, Schatz tested different lines as he’s known to do and didn’t let Kofoid build too much of an advantage.

When the lead duo entered traffic, Kofoid managed to extend his lead at first as the gap grew to just over a second on Lap 9. But Schatz began to regain his footing and cut away at the margin as the race neared the halfway mark. Only two laps later, he had sliced Kofoid’s one second advantage in half.

Right when it looked as if a battle may be brewing between the rising star and the living legend, heartbreak hit Kofoid. The left-rear tire on his machine let go entering Turn 1, sending him spinning and backing into the fence. Adding salt to the wound, the incident occurred a lap after the halfway point meaning no guaranteed time in the Federated Car Care Work Zone. His team wasn’t able to make repairs in time for the restart, leaving him trapped in the Work Zone as the field came back to green.

Donny Schatz driving the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian #15 at Volusia
Once he inherited the lead, there was no catching Donny Schatz on Monday at Volusia (Trent Gower Photo)

Kofoid’s misfortune was Schatz’s benefit as the Carquest #15 inherited the top spot with 12 laps remaining. The Fargo, ND driver wasted no time pulling ahead when the green lights flashed. In two laps he held more than a one second lead. Even when he made his way back into traffic, no lapped cars slowed him.

A late caution for Jacob Allen set up the potential for a dramatic finish with only three laps to go. But Schatz had no intentions of allowing any drama to intervene between himself and the finish line. Schatz powered ahead on the final restart and cruised to a comfortable win and joined the exclusive 500 club.

“I wasn’t really worried about what was behind me,” Schatz said. “As long as I could focus on out in front of me and do what I was doing we were going to be alright. You know somebody is going to maybe try the slider, but there isn’t anything you can do about what other people are doing. He (Haudenschild) must’ve spun his tires on the start. Man, we got a hell of a run and went right to second, and I can’t ever remember running a car that hard that long. It’s hard on tires and hard on wheels. It’s hard on everything.

“We kind of capitalized on the misfortune of the #83. We were getting to the point where we were having a lot of wheel spin. When your right side is up against something, the left side is the one that spins, and that’s generally where a problem happens. And obviously, that’s what happened there and we capitalized on that. Hats off to my guys. They just keep digging and digging and digging.”

Haudenschild claimed the runner-up spot for his second consecutive strong run at Volusia. The pilot of the Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing/NOS Energy Drink #17 capped DIRTcar Nationals with a win last month and came up one spot short of back-to-back wins. The result marked his 95th career World of Outlaws podium. The Wooster, OH native noted that track position might’ve prevented him from grabbing the win.

“The outside just seemed like you could kind of keep your speed up a little bit better,” Haudenschild said. “Definitely in (Turns) 1 and 2 you could roll it way faster at the start of the race. Don’t think there’s much I could’ve changed there. I feel like my car was really good, and whoever was out front was going to be really fast and hard to catch. The #83 was scooting pretty good, and so was Donny when he got out front.”

Rounding out the top three was Carson Macedo aboard the Jason Johnson Racing #41. The result served as a revitalizing boost for Macedo who struggled to start the season last month. He and the team put in plenty of work throughout the three off weeks, and their efforts immediately paid off with their first podium of the year and the 88th of Macedo’s career.

“We worked really hard,” Macedo said. “I think we were as good as the other two here in the Feature. It’s just once we get strung out at this place it’s crazy. You kind of hit that air barrier and you can’t go any faster. All in all, we took those three weeks to do all we could. Luckily, Tim Engler and Paul Kistler, we were able to meet them at the chassis dyno and kind of do some work on our engine package. I feel like we’re getting closer and closer.”

David Gravel and Giovanni Scelzi completed the top five.

The fourth place result allowed Gravel to maintain his early season points lead. Schatz and Scelzi sit in a tie for second, 12 markers behind Gravel.

Logan Schuchart picked up his second KSE Racing Hard Charger of the season.

Buddy Kofoid claimed his first Simpson Quick Time of the year and the sixth of his career.

Sheldon Haudenschild won the Toyota Racing Dash.

NOS Energy Drink Heat One belonged to Kofoid (16th Heat Race win of career). Milton Hershey School Heat Two went to Sheldon Haudenschild (100th of career).

Giovanni Scelzi topped the Micro-Lite Qualifier.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars head to Texas for The Greatest Show on Dirt’s debut at Kennedale Speedway Park on March 8-9. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.


NOS Energy Drink Feature A Feature 1 (25 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz[4]; 2. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[1]; 3. 41-Carson Macedo[6]; 4. 2-David Gravel[7]; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[3]; 6. 1S-Logan Schuchart[11]; 7. 14-Corey Day[12]; 8. 7S-Landon Crawley[5]; 9. 8-Cory Eliason[9]; 10. 17B-Bill Balog[8]; 11. 24D-Danny Sams III[15]; 12. 70-Kraig Kinser[14]; 13. 15K-Creed Kemenah[16]; 14. 97UK-Ryan Harrison[17]; 15. 1A-Jacob Allen[10]; 16. 83-Michael Kofoid[2]; 17. 6-Bill Rose[19]; 18. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[13]; 19. 5T-Ryan Timms[18]

For complete results, CLICK HERE.