Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz added two more podium finishes to his 2015 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series stat sheet during the Outlaws’ Ironman 55 weekend at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 near St. Louis. Schatz wheeled TSR’s No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance J&J to victory in Friday night’s 35-lap Prelude to the Ironman A-Feature Friday and came home third in Saturday’s Ironman 55.
Schatz, the six-time and reigning WoO champion, led the Outlaws to St. Louis on top of the championship standings and several other categories, including wins, top-fives, top-10s and laps led through 52 races. The Fargo, North Dakota driver entered August with a streak of 19 consecutive finishes of first or second in full-points WoO A-Features. He was looking to continue that streak and end a 16-race winless streak at the high-banked, one-third-mile dirt oval located just south of St. Louis.
He accomplished both Friday night, leading 12 of the final 13 laps to capture his 22nd victory of the season and his first at I-55 since April Fools Day 2006.
“It certainly feels like it’s been forever since we’ve won here,” said Schatz following his 194th career WoO A-Feature victory. “This was a total team effort. It starts with Tony Stewart, who is a great owner and surrounds me with some incredible people. My guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman – left Canada last weekend and got back to the shop to get us ready for this weekend and beyond. They built a new car and it was terrific right out of the trailer. They kept working on it and it responded to everything we were trying to make it do. It’s great to put the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance machine back in victory lane.”
Schatz opened the evening by earning his third fast qualifier of the season to pace the field of 30 cars. He finished third in the opening heat and sixth in the dash. He started sixth and jumped to fifth during the opening laps before moving into fourth on lap four. His progression to the front continued when he took third on lap eight and second on lap 17. He closed on leader Joey Saldana during the next five laps and took the lead briefly on lap 23. Following a lap-24 restart, Schatz took the top spot back and pulled away from Saldana and would lead the final 11 laps.
Saturday night the team returned looking for an Ironman weekend sweep. Schatz qualified third in the field of 32 cars and finished fourth in both heat three and the dash. He started the 55-lap A-Feature on the outside of row two, but used a terrific start to move into second on the opening lap. Schatz chased Kerry Madsen for the first 32 laps before grabbing the lead with a move around the outside of Madsen in turn four. He led the way for the next 12 laps before a caution slowed the race. After a competition fuel stop, Shane Stewart was able to move past Schatz for the lead on the restart. Schatz tried every high line he could in his effort to get back by Stewart. He had one more chance with another restart with eight laps to go, but the challenge for Schatz became holding off hard-charging Rico Abreu. The two exchanged second twice during the final four laps with Abreu ultimately taking the spot.
With two more podium finishes, Schatz extended his lead over Stewart in the championship standings to 365 points. His 22 wins, 42 top-five and 50 top-10 finishes are all best through 54 races.
Schatz and the Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance team now turn their attention to the 55th annual FVP Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals. The team has won the previous four Nationals and Schatz has won eight of the last nine.