Tough Weekend for TSR No. 15 Team in California
Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and his Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team battled Mother Nature and extremely fast track conditions this past weekend as the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series opened its annual spring tour of California at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare. After Friday’s program was washed out because of rain, Schatz faced an uphill climb throughout Saturday’s program in the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J, which concluded with the seven-time and reigning WoO champion coming up two spots short of making the field of 24.
Track officials worked throughout Saturday to get the one-third-mile dirt oval into shape following Friday’s heavy rains. The surface held a lot of moisture and remained fast throughout the night. Schatz drew an early number for qualifying and he ended up 14th in the first group as the track continued to get faster throughout the session. The Fargo, North Dakota racer started seventh in heat two and got faster each lap. He worked his way up to sixth but couldn’t overtake D.J. Netto for the fifth and final transfer spot in the eight-lap heat.
The finish meant Schatz would have one final opportunity to race his way into the 35-lap A-Feature with a finish of fourth or better in the Last Chance Showdown. He started seventh in the Showdown and the track continued to be locked down. On the start, he dove low in turn one looking for an opening to move forward. Four laps into the race, he was up to sixth and chasing Trey Starks for fifth. The race went nonstop and Schatz wasn’t able to overtake Starks and finished sixth.
In 2016, provisional starters are no longer eligible to receive championship points so the team decided not to use a provisional starting position in the 35-lap A-Feature. Saturday’s feature was the first A-Feature that was contested without the TSR No. 15 racecar since the opening night of the 2012 World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
David Gravel led all 35 laps to become the sixth winner in nine events this season.
With nine of 92 events complete, Schatz has earned two victories, five top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He ranks fifth in the championship standings with 1,146 points and trails leader Brad Sweet by 112 markers.
The 2016 WoO schedule resumes Friday and Saturday with the Western Springs Shootout at the Stockton (Calif.) Dirt Track. Last spring, Schatz established the track record in qualifying prior to winning the opening-night feature.
– TSC –