Schatz Closes Outlaws’ California Swing with a Pair of Top-Fives
Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz closed out the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series annual 11-race spring California swing with fifth-place finishes Friday at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and Perris Auto Speedway in Lake Perris, California.
With three victories in the first six races of the California swing behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J, Schatz was looking to equal his win total of four during the 2015 early season run through the Golden State. Mother Nature washed out three races, including last weekend’s doubleheader at Calistoga Speedway, and the Outlaws returned to Bakersfield Friday for the first time since 2005.
In his only other previous race at the high-banked, 1/3-mile dirt oval, Schatz charged from 20th to eighth and he entered the weekend on the heels of three consecutive KSE Hard Charger Awards, including his run from 14th to first in the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico on April 2. The seven-time and reigning WoO champion was the 10th car in the field of 22 to make a qualifying lap and he ended up 17 th on the clock. By finishing sixth in the second heat, he transferred into the 35-lap A-Feature and started on the inside of the ninth row. In that main event, Schatz searched the track early and climbed his way to 12th by lap 10 and cracked the top-10 on the next circuit. Schatz moved to sixth by lap 18 and took fifth on lap 21. He battled Shane Stewart for fourth late in the race before a restart with five laps to go bunched up the field. Schatz moved into fifth following the restart and held the position during the final four laps and picked up his fourth consecutive KSE Hard Charger Award after advancing 12 positions and finishing fifth.
WoO points leader Brad Sweet of Kasey Kahne Racing passed Joey Saldana on the final restart and earned his fifth victory of the season.
Following a 180-mile trip from Bakersfield to Lake Perris, the Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team prepared for the Outlaws’ annual stop in Southern California. Schatz was making his 17th visit to the half-mile, dirt oval looking to score his first career win at the track and sixth in the 2016 campaign. The Fargo, North Dakota racer got the evening off to a good start by circling the track in 15.607 seconds, which topped the 21-car field and giving him a pair of top qualifying honors on the season. He led every lap of the opening heat and captured one of the six positions in the dash lineup. The six pill was drawn for the dash inversion, starting Schatz sixth in the six-lap race that set the first three rows for the 30-lap A-Feature. Unfortunately, high winds all evening made it difficult for race officials to keep the track from becoming extremely abrasive and ultimately taking rubber just 10 laps into the A-Feature. Schatz was running fifth when the track locked down and he remained in that position for the rest of the race to capture his ninth top-five of the season.
Daryn Pittman led all 30 laps in his No. 9 Kasey Kahne Racing machine to score his second win of 2016.
Through 16 of the scheduled 92 races, Schatz is tied for most victories with five, and he has earned 10 top-fives and 12 top-10s.
He ranks third in the championship with 2,150 points and trails leader Sweet by 103 markers.
The 2016 WoO schedule resumes Monday when the series returns to USA Raceway in Tucson, Arizona. Schatz is one of six winners in the previous six WoO races at the semibanked, 3/8-mile oval dirt oval.
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