In his second season driving for Tony Stewart Racing, Donny Schatz won 12 times and led the series with 39 Top-Five finishes en route to claiming the title by just 19 points over Jason Meyers, making it the closest finish in World of Outlaws history.
Courtesy: WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations
Concord, NC—Donny Schatz continued to make history in 2009, placing himself in an elite company in a couple of different categories. He claimed his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws title to become just the second driver ever to do that and he also won his 100th career A-Feature event to become just the fifth driver in the 30-plus year history of the series to accomplish that feat.
In his second season driving for Tony Stewart Racing, the North Dakota native won 12 times and led the series with 39 Top-Five finishes en route to claiming the title by just 19 points over Jason Meyers, making it the closest finish in World of Outlaws history.
“It’s a great season when you can win a championship and be the most consistent,” said Schatz. “It’s rewarding. I’m glad to be a part of this. I’m a lucky guy to be part of this and I can’t say thanks enough to the guys that work hard on these race cars for me and make sure they don’t fall apart. They make sure I have a fast car and am competitive. I have to thank Tony Stewart for what he has done for us and keeping us on our edge.”
Schatz picked up his 100th career World of Outlaws A-Feature win in his home state at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan on August 22, putting him in the record books with Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Mark Kinser and Doug Wolfgang as the only drivers to cross the century mark in their careers. In his career with the World of Outlaws, Schatz has won at 53 different tracks in 24 states along with one Canadian Province as well as in Australia.
“It means a lot to get it,” said the North Dakota native of his 100th win. “Milestones for me though, I always get stuck on them and I am stuck on that 100th win right now. That happened back in August. When I tied Dave Blaney for 71 I got stuck on that one for a month or two. Man I am stuck on that 100th one and I don’t know what to say. I want to get off it.”
Schatz, who claimed the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws back in 1997, has been competing full-time with the series every season since, with the 2009 campaign marking his 13th consecutive year on the road. He has finished among the Top-10 in the championship standings in 10 of those campaigns, with the last seven spent among the Top-Five.
“It never gets any easier,” he noted of the competition on the World of Outlaws trail. “The longer you are out here, the tougher it gets. Every time one of us gets ahead we get brought back 10 steps and things level out. It seems like we are five steps behind all the time. It’s as competitive as it’s ever been and I hope we can work hard to get to that next level, I just know how much better that can be.”
Among the victories for Schatz in 2009, were his second in the $50,000 Kings Royal at the legendary Eldora Speedway which is owned by his car owner Tony Stewart. He also claimed his fourth consecutive Knoxville National title, becoming just the second driver to ever accomplish that feat. In addition, he was victorious at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida twice, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Canandaigua Speedway, Lawrenceburg Speedway, River Cities Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway and K-C Raceway.
“The Kings Royal, the (Knoxville) Nationals, they are all big,” he said. “A race is a race. I want to win everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Kings Royal or just a normal race. The ones that pay good are the ones that mean more to the race team and me too. I’m just glad to be able to get those victories and keep adding my name to that list.”
While Schatz continues to make history with the World of Outlaws, he is very appreciative of all of the folks that have helped him get to this point and is also humbled by the success. He looks to continue racing for many years to come.
“Nobody will ever do what Steve Kinser has done, but to be associated in that same club is pretty cool,” Schatz stated. “It’s exciting to be there and there are not many people that will ever be able to be in that situation. If I stop racing tomorrow, man I have had one hell of a long, good ride. I don’t plan on stopping, but you never know what could happen. You never know when it’s your last day. There are a lot of people out there that aren’t as fortunate as us and get to do this. I’m just glad to be in this situation.”
While Schatz receives most of the accolades for his performance on the track, he is quick to share the spotlight with his crew, led by crew chief Ricky Warner along with Shane Bowers and Eric Prutzman. Warner and Bowers have been with Schatz for all four of his titles, while Prutzman joined the team this season and was able to celebrate his first championship as a World of Outlaws crew member.
“I’m glad you can’t clone people, because if you could clone those guys, I wouldn’t want to race against them,” said Schatz with a smile when asked about his crew. “They are awesome. Ricky (Warner) and I have been together a long time and we disagree sometimes, but that’s what makes us better. You have to do that. We had a spell this year where we disagreed on what the direction we needed to go to get ahead was. That set us back a little bit, but we know what that direction is now. The most important part is that we learned it and we didn’t just ignore that situation. We can fight and argue and disagree, but at the end of the day we want the same result and we both dig down to do whatever we have to do to get there. I can’t say enough about those guys. It’s fun to work with them and they do their best for me and I do my best for them.”
With the off-season quickly going by, Schatz is busy back home in North Dakota. He will combine preparing for the 2010 season along with a number of others business obligations he has to attend to. He will also mix in some off-season racing in Australia, where he has been going every year since 2000 and has won at least one race Down Under in each of those trips.
“I have a lot of stuff line up,” shared Schatz. “I have a lot of work at home and a lot of remodeling at the truck stops (that his family owns). I just have so much stuff I want to do that I’m happy to have some time to do it. We have trade shows in Orlando and Indianapolis and vacation in Australia. It’s not too long to be off, but just enough.”
Adding to his championship season, Schatz was recently named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America Auto Racing Team for the fourth consecutive year in the “Short Track” category as a First Team honoree. He also is one of ten finalists for the 2009 Economaki Champion of Champions Award presented by National Speed Sport News, an award he received in 2008.
The 2010 World of Outlaws season kicks off on February 5-7 with the 39th annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UHON at Volusia Speedway Park, where Schatz was victorious on opening night last season as well as in the finale of the three-day event.
By the Numbers Donny Schatz 2009:
2- Countries that Schatz won in during 2009- United States & Australia
4- Consecutive World of Outlaws titles for Schatz
5- Penske Power positions earned by Schatz this past season, which is awarded to the third-place finisher in the feature each night
7- KSE Hard Charger Awards to lead all drivers, given to the driver that passes the most cars in the feature each night; Wins on half-mile tracks to lead all drivers in 2009
8- Wins in the Crane Cams Dash to earn pole positions for Schatz in 2009
10- Tracks that Schatz won at in 2009 with the World of Outlaws
12- A-Feature wins in 2009 for the four-time champion
13- Times that Schatz was fastest in time trials to lead the series this past season
19- Points that separated him and Jason Meyers at the end of the 2009 season
39- Top-Five finishes for Schatz to lead the series
45- Starts in the Crane Cams Dash this past season for Schatz to earn Top-10 starting spots in feature events
54- Top-10 finishes for Schatz in 2009
100- Career A-Feature wins with the World of Outlaws for Schatz
357- Laps led this season in feature events
8908- Points earned by Schatz to win the 2009 championship
150,000 Dollars earned by Schatz and his Tony Stewart Racing team for the title
322,900- Dollars earned this season by the second generation driver