Vegas Victory Highlights Outlaw Weekend for Schatz
Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz added his second World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman® Sprint Car Series A-Feature triumph of the season during a three-race weekend that included a pair of races at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the series’ inaugural race at Arizona Speedway just outside of Phoenix.
Schatz raced the TSR No. 15 Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance J&J to victory in Friday night’s 30-lap FVP Outlaw Showdown to close the two-night program in Las Vegas and increase his win total to 206 for his career. The triumph was sandwiched by a run from 13th to seventh Thursday in Las Vegas and his charge from seventh to fourth Sunday in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Arizona Speedway.
“I’m really proud of the Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team,” Schatz said. “They just don’t quit. We were really struggling Thursday night getting the car to have the kind of balance we needed. They spent Friday going over everything on it and we came back Friday night and it performed extremely well. I can’t thank them enough for the dedication to always getting better. When you work that hard, the wins are even more rewarding. I feel really fortunate to be this team’s driver and be surrounded by incredible people. You always want to win when the car owner is in the house and we were able to do that Friday. He had a big smile on his face afterward.”
Schatz, the seven-time and reigning WoO champion, returned to the half-mile dirt track as the all-time winningest driver with eight career victories at Las Vegas. He qualified fifth in the field of 38 cars but, after finishing fourth in the opening heat, he was relegated to a 13th-place starting position for the 30-lap A-Feature. While most of the competitors hugged the bottom groove, Schatz tried and tried to make the middle and top lines work in an effort to climb from his midpack starting position. He would ultimately reach seventh.
Friday, Schatz qualified 18th in the 36-car field and raced from fifth to win the second heat race to grab his spot in the six-lap dash, which set the lineup for the first eight positions in the main event. The Fargo, North Dakota racer once again drove forward, advancing from fifth to second. He shared the front row with current WoO championship points leader Brad Sweet in the 30-lap A-Feature, but didn’t get the start he was hoping for. Within two laps, he was battling for fifth with Ian Madsen before he got his No. 15 machine settled underneath him. He worked the high line and the bottom groove and made his way back up to third. He passed Thursday’s winner Joey Saldana for second on lap 12, and then set his sights on Sweet, who took the top position from Saldana on lap nine. Schatz stalked Sweet for the next 12 laps, closing to his rear bumper on a couple of occasions. He grabbed the top spot with a textbook move through traffic coming out of turn two and raced away for his ninth career victory in Las Vegas.
Following the victory, the Bad Boy/Chevrolet Performance team traveled to Arizona Speedway for the first-ever race at the semi-banked, 3/8-mile dirt oval. Schatz was the 25th of 26 cars to make a qualifying lap and he ended up seventh on the grid. A third-place finish in the first heat transferred him directly into the 30-lap A-Feature which he started seventh. He was inside the top-five on the opening lap and battled for that position throughout the race. He exchanged the fifth spot with Sweet on lap 23 before passing Saldana for fourth on lap 26.
Shane Stewart became the fifth different winner in the first eight events Sunday, racing to the checkered flag ahead of David Gravel, Danny Lasoski and Schatz.
With eight of 92 events complete, Schatz has earned two victories, five top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He ranks third in the championship standings with 1,056 points and trails leader Sweet by 59 markers.
The 2016 WoO schedule resumes Friday and Saturday with the first two of 11 race nights in California at the Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare.
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