The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series campaign is filled with plenty of challenges and getting through the 11-race, early season California swing is one of the more difficult. Six-time and reigning WoO champion Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR), and his TSR team overcame tough luck early in Friday night’s 35-lap WoO A-Feature at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California, and posted finishes of eighth and fourth in the weekend doubleheader.
The annual March stop at the high-banked, one-third mile dirt oval kicked off six weekends of racing in the Golden State. Schatz, one of six drivers to claim a WoO victory in the Outlaws’ first six races of 2015, opened the festivities Friday by qualifying seventh in the field of 46 entrants. After finishing third in heat three, he transferred directly in the 35-lap A-Feature. Disaster struck on the second lap as Carmen Macedo, who started fourth, got sucked into the wall after bouncing through the treacherous cushion. The contact sent Macedo back down the track and into the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance No. 15. Schatz’s racecar ended up on top of Macedo’s with severe damage to his machine. The TSR crew of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman worked quickly to make repairs to his damaged car and sent him back out. Schatz returned to the track and raced from 24th back up to eighth in an accident-filled A-Feature.
For Saturday’s program, the TSR team had to bring out a new chassis since the car Schatz finished Friday’s race with was damaged beyond repair. He qualified 10th in the field of 45 before racing to victory in the second heat. The win earned Schatz a position in the six-lap dash, where Schatz started and finished sixth. In the 35-lap A-Feature, Schatz quickly climbed inside the top-five and began working his way higher into contention with the leaders. Midway through the race, he worked his way up to third, and he was in fourth when the track surface locked down with rubber late in the race. The finish was his fourth top-five in the first eight WoO races of 2015.
“We all know coming to California that it’s going to be crazy,” Schatz said. “I have to give my guys a lot of credit. They put together a new car after Tucson and it was working really well. It’s a shame we only got to race it one night. We got caught up in a crash that wasn’t avoidable and that’s racing. The guys got me back out there and we salvaged what we could Friday. They built another new car Saturday and it was fast as soon as we hit the track for hot laps. We qualified well for going out when we did and the car was a rocket in the heat. In the feature, we weren’t able to get to the front before the track surface made passing pretty difficult, but we’re closer to where we want to be.”
The finishes allowed Schatz to secure second in the 2015 WoO championship standings. He has accumulated 1,098 points and trails leader Shane Stewart by 21 markers with eight of 89 races complete.
The California Outlaw tour continues next weekend for Schatz and the Bad Boy Buggies team at Stockton (Calif.) Dirt Track on Saturday and Sunday.