Schatz, TSR Back on Familiar Soil
Reigning Outlaw Champ Races Arctic Cat/Ford Performance Machine to Knoxville Triumph
By True Speed Communications
Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team returned to historic Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway this past weekend with something to prove. After a handful of frustrating weeks of results with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series, Schatz opened the Brownwells Big Guns Bash with a third-place finish Friday and broke through Saturday night with a flag-to-flag triumph to earn the team its 10th WoO A-Feature win of the season.
Schatz and TSR entered the weekend looking to pick up their first victory since May 13, when they parked the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J in victory lane at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The eight-time and reigning champion had the fastest car late in Friday’s 25-lap race and he was fast out of the gate Saturday night. Despite being the 38th of 40 drivers to make his qualifying lap, Schatz posted the fastest lap in the second group around the half-mile, dirt oval to capture his third fast qualifier award of the season. He dominated the third heat and charged from sixth to second in the Craftsman Club Dash to earn a front-row starting spot for Saturday’s 25-lap A-Feature. Schatz and Friday night’s winner Brad Sweet, who started on the pole, battled side-by-side for the opening two laps before Schatz seized command. He was on a mission and methodically navigated his way through lapped traffic en route to his 25th career victory at Knoxville and 239th WoO A-Feature win of his career.
“We haven’t been on pace the last couple months,” Schatz said. “You keep looking for little things that aren’t right. One thing here, one thing there, but we found three things. And so, that’s why I’m smiling. I’m a happy guy. I got my feel back. I can feel all four corners again, and that’s important. We have an awesome race team. Tony (Stewart) has surrounded us with incredible marketing partners like Arctic Cat and Ford Performance and a group of guys with a drive to win that’s unmatched. These guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti) have put up with me through some not-so-good moods the last few months, but it feels good to be back in victory lane, especially here at Knoxville, and get that win.”
With 34 of 92 scheduled races complete, Schatz leads the championship standings over David Gravel and Sweet by 78 points. He is the only driver with double-digit wins with 10, and he leads all drivers with 26 top-five finishes.
Brownwells Big Guns Bash – Knoxville Race Notes:
• Schatz made his 88h and 89th career WoO starts at Knoxville Raceway this past weekend.
• He raced from fourth to second in Friday’s second heat race to secure his spot in the Craftsman Club Dash for the seventh consecutive race.
• Saturday night marked the third time in 2017 that Schatz topped the field in qualifying. He won at LoneStar Speedway in March and finished second in May at New Egypt Speedway before racing to victory Saturday night at Knoxville.
• After racing from sixth to second in the Craftsman Club Dash, Schatz outdueled Sweet in the opening two laps on his way to leading all 25 laps of the A-Feature. It was the fifth time in 2017 that Schatz led every lap of a main event en route to victory – LoneStar Speedway (March 3), 81 Speedway (May 6), Eldora Speedway (May 13).
• The victory gives Schatz 25 career triumphs at Knoxville, tying him with Skip Jackson for 10th all-time.
• By winning Saturday, Schatz continued his run of June success at Knoxville, where he has won in each of the last three seasons and four out of the last five in the Outlaws’ annual pre-Nationals visit.
With their 10th WoO triumph of the season and 13th overall, Schatz and the TSR team continue a busy month of June with Tuesday’s return to Eagle Raceway just east of Lincoln, Nebraska. Schatz has three career wins at the 1/3-mile, high-banked dirt oval. Following the Eagle Nationals, the team will head to North Dakota for the Duel in the Dakotas doubleheader beginning with Friday’s stop in Grand Forks at River Cities Speedway and Saturday’s event at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo. Schatz has been phenomenal in his home state recently and his eight wins at River Cities are the most by any WoO driver.