PORT ROYAL, PA – With four races left to go in the 2019 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season Donny Schatz has found himself in unusual territory.
The 10-time Series champion – who for the last five years had the championship locked up by now – finds himself 32 points behind Brad Sweet for the points lead heading into the Oct. 25 to 26 Nittany Showdown doubleheader at Port Royal Speedway.
You won’t catch the reigning champion sweating about it, though.
“I’m not worried about championship points,” Schatz said. “I’ve never really worried about who’s behind or ahead. You race the same.”
However, that doesn’t mean he’s not aware of the fluctuating points situation. Schatz had cut Sweet’s lead down from 40 points to 14 after the National Open weekend at Williams Grove Speedway but then fell to 30 points behind after being the victim of two accidents at Tri-State Speedway.
“Weekends like last weekend, yeah, I’d like to go find the guy that drove into the back of me and took me out and put me in this position and beat the shit out of him,” Schatz said. “But that’s just the nature of the beast.
“We got to go win races. When you can’t win races, you’ve got to run second and third. But ultimately, we’re not into seconds and thirds. We’re here to win.”
This weekend’s event at Port Royal Speedway is a good place for Schatz and his Tony Stewart/ Curb-Agajanian Racing team to potentially pick up two more wins before the season ending Can-Am World Finals event. Schatz has won the last two World of Outlaws races at the half-mile Pennsylvania track. He out dueled Sweet for the win at the speedway last year.
The Fargo, N.D. driver has not finished worse than third at Port Royal Speedway since the Series returned to the speedway in 2014. He’s gained eight points on Sweet the last two years at Port Royal and 12 points on him in 2016. If history repeats itself, Schatz could potentially cut Sweet’s points lead in half after the weekend.
Schatz is the winningest driver on half-mile speedways this year with six of his 10 wins coming at half-mile tracks. His latest win at the half-mile Lakeside Speedway was the first win for the new Ford FPS 410 engine – the first time in 21 years a Ford powered World of Outlaws Sprint Car won. Schatz will have the FPS 410 again at Port Royal.
In the first quarter of the year Schatz said he would give his season a C grade. Five months later he said he wouldn’t change the grade. At least for himself.
“My season is a C. The race team, these guys, I’d give them an A,” Schatz said. “They’ve done a phenomenal job all year. I’ve had some moments where I put myself in a bad spot and I didn’t carry the car when I needed to carry the car.
“The car isn’t going to be perfect ever. And a driver has to do a better job and that’s something I’ve been good at over the years. This year, not so much. I can take that on my shoulders. I’m a human being. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve got a lot of things going on that have probably affected me in that light. I’m working on that. So, all you can do is work to be better going forward and that’s what I’m doing.”
In the final four races of the year Schatz said, “it’s kind of go for broke.”
“A long time ago I had a phrase, I’d say win it or wear it,” Schatz said. “We’re going to win it or wear it. It’s going to be that way here on out.”
THIS WEEK AT A GLANCE
WHEN & WHERE
Friday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 26, at Port Royal Speedway for the Nittany Showdown. Get tickets and more information.
ABOUT THE TRACK
Port Royal Speedway is a semi-banked half-mile track. The track record is 14.868 sec. set by Brian Brown on Oct. 28, 2018.
Online – PortRoyalSpeedway.com
Phone – (717) 527-2303
Tickets can be purchased by going to WorldofOutlaws.com/tix.