Reigning World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J for Tony Stewart/Curb-Aganjain Racing (TSR), earned finishes of sixth, fourth and 17th last week in WoO action at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and USA Raceway in Tucson, Arizona.
The three races opened the seven-week West Coast tour for the Outlaws, and Schatz hit the half-mile, dirt oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looking to score his ninth career triumph at the track. The Fargo, North Dakota driver was the 29th of 33 cars to make a qualifying run Wednesday and he turned the sixth-best lap. He started third and finished fourth in the second heat to transfer into the 30-lap A-Feature. The track was a handful for all 24 starters as they bounced through ruts in turns two and four. Schatz methodically moved his way from 11th to sixth during the main event.
The Bad Boy Buggies team returned to The Dirt Track Thursday and began the evening by qualifying 11th in the field of 33 entries. Schatz lost a drag race with Danny Lasoski to the start-finish line at the beginning of heat three and spent the next six laps trying to overtake Lasoski for the heat victory. Lasoski was able to fend off the advances by Schatz and took the coveted spot in the dash relegating Schatz to a transfer position in the 30-lap A-Feature. The racing surface was dramatically different in Thursday’s A-Feature than it had been the night before and Schatz took advantage. He climbed inside the top-10 from his 14th starting spot during the first five laps and continued working his way up the grid. He was running eighth when a yellow slowed the action, but he lost a pair of spots on the ensuing restart. During the final 10 laps of the race, Schatz was on a mission, passing cars with regularity. By the time the race reached lap 25, Schatz was up to sixth. In the final five laps, he passed Jason Sides and Daryn Pittman and was closing on the lead trio, but ran out of laps and finished fourth.
“We were certainly hoping for better results in Las Vegas,” Schatz said. “The Bad Boy Buggies guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman) kept working to get the package where we needed it to be. The track was extremely tough Wednesday night and it just took me too long to figure out how exactly I needed to drive the car Thursday. Once I did, cars just started coming to me and I could see the leaders, but the race was only 30 laps and fourth was as high as we could get.”
The action for Schatz and the rest of the Outlaws resumed Saturday at the 3/8-mile dirt oval in Tucson. The evening wasn’t quite what the team had in mind starting with qualifying. Schatz timed in 20th overall in the field of 26 competitors. He finished fourth in heat two and started the 30-lap A-Feature 19th. The 30-lap A-Feature turned out to be a parade during the final half of the race as the surface took rubber around the bottom and cars simply got in line and made laps. Schatz advanced two spots before the track locked down and was scored 17th at the finish.
After five of 89 nights of action in the 2015 WoO campaign, Schatz ranks fifth with 822 points and trails leader Joey Saldana by 19 points.
Schatz and the Bad Boy Buggies team head to California this weekend for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare.