RAPID CITY, SD – Ten-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz has found his groove again.
With a dominating win in his home state last week and reclaiming the points lead, the reigning champion is looking to ride the momentum and continue his hunt for an 11th championship on Friday, Aug. 23, at Black Hills Speedway and Saturday, Aug. 24, at Big Sky Speedway.
As the North Dakota-native stated, he put a “whopping” on the field at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. – leading 24 of the 40 laps and lapping up to ninth-place en route to his eighth victory of year. That makes him the second winningest driver of the 16 that have won, so far, this year. However, Schatz feels like he should already have several more wins.
He’s used to seasons with 20 or 30-plus wins. Schatz acknowledge it can be hard to live up to those statistics. But after a couple of years of not doing so, he said it’s started to weigh on him.
“You could say I’ve had a mental block for two and a half years,” Schatz said.
Every race he and his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing are “digging,” he’s said. In Grand Forks they hit on something. For Schatz it wasn’t just with the car either. He felt like his mental block was finally gone.
“I feel like that’s over,” Schatz said. “I can go back to doing my job and doing what I do.”
His win also helped him reclaim the points lead over Brad Sweet – now 24 points ahead of the Kasey Kahne Racing driver. With less than 30 races to go in the Series’ schedule, there’s one main focus for Schatz; the championship.
“It’s always been the focus,” he said.
The best way to achieve it is with consecutive good finishes – which he’s had, finishing outside the top-10 only four times – and wins.
Sweet won at Black Hills Speedway last year. He’ll be hungry for another win there after losing the points lead to Schatz, while he searches for his first Series championship. Schatz has won at the South Dakota speedway three time in-a-row, though. Schatz will also be looking to give his crew chief, Steve Swenson, a home state win at the track.
With NOS Energy Drink coming on board to sponsor the event and adding an additional $10,000 to the winner’s purse, there will now be $20,000 on the line, as well.
A wild card race in Schatz and Sweet’s battle for the points lead will be The Brawl at Big Sky Speedway in Billings, Mont. Neither have won at the 3/8-mile track. However, three of Sweet’s 12 wins this year have come on 3/8-mile tracks – making him the winningest driver, so far, this year on tracks that size.
Schatz has yet to win at a 3/8-mile track this year. He’s been no stranger to first time wins this year, though. He won the inaugural race at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and won at Wilmot Raceway for the first time in his career in July.
With the mental block gone and the championship in view, Schatz is poised to repeat his River Cities performance his weekend.
NEWS AND NOTES
• Three-time Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg, who drivers the NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z drift car, will be signing autographs in the midway at Black Hills Speedway with his car from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. His car will also be used as the pace car for the World of Outlaws Feature.
THIS WEEK AT A GLANCE
WHEN & WHERE
Friday, Aug. 23, at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D. for the NOS Energy Drink Rushmore Outlaw Showdown. Get tickets and more information.
Saturday, Aug. 24, at Big Sky Speedway in Billings, Mont. for The Brawl at Big Sky Speedway. Get tickets and more information.
ABOUT THE TRACK
Black Hills Speedway is a high-banked, 1/2-mile track. The track record is 14.831 sec. set by Shane Stewart on Aug. 25, 2017.
Online – BlackHillsSpeedway.myracepass.com
Big Sky Speedway is a semi-banked 3/8-mile track. The track record is 12.236 sec. set by Jason Sides on Aug. 19, 2005.
Online – BigSkySpeedway.com
Phone – (406) 998-9336
Tickets can be purchased by going to WorldofOutlaws.com/tix.
1/2 and 3/8-MILE WINNERS THIS YEAR
There have been 18 races on a 1/2-mille track, so far, this year.
-Volusia Speedway: Daryn Pittman won on Feb. 8 and 9
-The Dirt Track at Las Vegas: Tim Shaffer won on Feb. 27 and Donny Schatz won on Feb. 28
-Perris Auto Speedway: Aaron Reutzel won on March 30
-Devil’s Bowl Speedway: Logan Schuchart won on April 12
-Eldora Speedway: Donny Schatz won on May 10, July 17 and July 19, and Brad Sweet won on July 18 and July 20
-Williams Grove Speedway: David Gravel won on May 17; Lance Dewease won on May 18; Tim Shaffer won on July 26; and Donny Schatz won on July 27
-Knoxville Raceway: Brian Brown won on June 14; Brad Sweet won on June 15; David Gravel on Aug. 10
There have been eight races on a 3/8-mile track, so far, this year.
Stockton Dirt Track: Logan Schuchart won on March 16
Keller Auto Speedway: David Gravel won on March 29
USA Raceway: Brad Sweet won on April 5
Lincoln Speedway: Lance Dewease won on May 15
Lawrenceburg Speedway: Kyle Larson won on May 27
Granite City Speedway: Brad Sweet won on June 8
Cedar Lake Speedway: Sheldon Haudenschild and Brad Sweet won on July 6
Hartford Speedway: David Gravel on July 12
BLACK HILLS SPEEDWAY PREVIOUS WINNERS
2018 – Brad Sweet on Aug. 24
2017 – Shane Stewart on Aug. 25
2011 – Donny Schatz on Aug. 25
2007 – Donny Schatz on June 25
2006 – Donny Schatz on Aug. 17
1989 – Bobby Davis, Jr. on July 3
1987 – Steve Kinser on July 5
1984 – Steve Kinser on July 8
1983 – Steve Kinser on July 4
BIG SKY SPEEDWAY PREVIOUS WINNERS
2018 – Daryn Pittman on Aug. 25
2017 – Daryn Pittman on Aug. 24
2008 – Joey Saldana on Aug.19
2005 – Steve Kinser on Aug.19, Daryn Pittman on Aug.20
2004 – Steve Kinser on Aug.20, Steve Kinser on Aug.21
ON THE INTERNET
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series
Twitter – Twitter.com/WorldofOutlaws – @WorldofOutlaws
Instagram – Instagram.com/WoOSprint – @woosprint
Facebook – Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws
YouTube – YouTube.com/WorldofOutlaws
DIRTVision – Dirtvision.com – Get your Fast Pass to watch all races LIVE for only $39/month
Twitter – Twitter.com/DIRTVision – @DIRTVision
Facebook – Facebook.com/WatchDIRTVision