Concord, NC — Donny Schatz and Joey Saldana were both recently named to the America Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America Auto Racing Team.
For Schatz, the four-time and reigning World of Outlaws champion, it was the fourth consecutive year that he has been named to the First Team in the “Short Track” category in his fourth year on the ballot. For Saldana, who led the World of Outlaws with 21 overall wins in 2009, it was the second time in his career he has been named to the Second Team in his second time on the ballot.
Schatz was victorious 12 times this past season en route to winning the title, including scoring his 100th career World of Outlaws A-Feature win at Dacotah Speedway in his home state of North Dakota, putting him in elite company as one of just five drivers to have earned that distinction. He also won the Knoxville Nationals for the fourth straight season, making him the only driver other than Steve Kinser to accomplish that.
Among the victories for Schatz in 2009, was his second $50,000 Kings Royal at the legendary Eldora Speedway which is owned by his car owner Tony Stewart. He also was victorious at Volusia Speedway Park in the season opening Florida DIRTcar Nationals twice, as well as winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Canandaigua Speedway, Lawrenceburg Speedway, River Cities Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway and K-C Raceway.
Schatz wrapped up the season with a series-best 39 Top-Five finishes and racked up 54 Top-10’s en route to winning the title by 19 points over Jason Meyers, making it the closest finish in series history. Schatz was also fastest in time trials on 13 occasions to lead the series in 2009, earning five bonus points each time for being quickest in qualifying.
Saldana led the series in wins in 2009 along with laps led and money earned en route to a third-place finish in points. He won his second $50,000 Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in California this past season, along with the $20,000 inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway in Missouri, as well as two victories at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway, both of which were live on SPEED, along with winning both nights of the Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton and both nights of the Boot Hill Showdown at Dodge City Raceway Park. He also was victorious twice at Lone Star Speedway and added single wins at Volusia Speedway Park, Thunderbowl Raceway, Silver Dollar Speedway in the Mini Gold Cup, Virginia Motor Speedway, Lawrenceburg Speedway, U.S. 36 Raceway, Skagit Speedway and Deer Creek Speedway.
“It’s definitely an honor,” said Saldana. “The biggest thing for me is that the World of Outlaws get recognized being on a team like that. That’s huge for our sport to receive that. We had a really good year in ’07 and made the team and I felt like this year we had a really good year too. You definitely have to run well to be recognized and we have done that in two years and hopefully we can continue to run that well in the next few years.”
The second generation driver recently wrapped up his season in New Zealand, winning the $20,000 International Sprint Car Classic over fellow World of Outlaws driver Craig Dollansky. Saldana finished 2009 with a total of 23 overall victories, which was a career high.
The AARWBA has been naming an All-America Auto Racing Team since 1970, and since the Outlaws Sprint Car Series was founded in 1978, the series has been represented in 29 of those years, with nine different drivers sharing those honors.
Steve Kinser, the 20-time World of Outlaws Champion, holds the record of being named to the All-America Auto Racing Team 23 times, including an unprecedented 18 berths on the First Team.
By being named to the First Team, Schatz is eligible for the Jerry Titus Award which will be announced at the All-America Team banquet on January 16 in Brownsburg, Ind. The Titus Award honors the team’s top driver, which is the one earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category.
2009 AARWBA All-America Auto Racing Team
OPEN WHEEL: Dario Franchitti
STOCK CAR: Mark Martin
ROAD RACING: Jon Fogarty/Alex Gurney
DRAG RACING: Tony Schumacher
SHORT TRACK: Donny Schatz
TOURING SERIES: Ron Hornaday
AT LARGE: J.R. Hildebrand
OPEN WHEEL: Helio Castroneves
STOCK CAR: Jimmie Johnson
ROAD RACING: David Brabham/Scott Sharp
DRAG RACING: Ashley Force Hood
SHORT TRACK: Joey Saldana
TOURING SERIES: Parker Kligerman
AT LARGE: Frank Manzo
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), Quaker State (Official Motor Oil), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, KSE Race Products, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo; Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Don Ott Racing Engines, Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines; and Chassis Builder’s Challenge participants J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Racing and XXX Race Company.