Donny Schatz’s championship run made him the only driver other than 20-time series champion Steve Kinser to win four championships and just the second driver to win four consecutive.
Courtesy: WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations
Concord, NC—November 8, 2009—The World of Outlaws wrapped up the 2009 season with the series annual Night of Champions on Sunday night at the Great Wolfe Lodge in Concord, North Carolina, presenting over a half a million dollars in cash and prizes.
Donny Schatz took home the lion’s share of the awards as he and his Tony Stewart Racing team earned $150,000. For Schatz, it was his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws championship and he was rewarded with not only the big check, but also the signature champion’s ring and the over 50 pound champion’s trophy. The title for Schatz made him the only driver other than 20-time series champion Steve Kinser to win four championships and just the second driver to win four consecutive.
“I want to thank everyone at Tony Stewart Racing,” said Schatz. “They are a class organization. You guys on the Armor All team are awesome. It’s a pleasure for me to get to work with Rick (Warner), Shane (Bowers) and Eric (Prutzman). Thank you for everything that you do. I know we had some weird things happen and no one ever pointed a finger and that shows a great team. To have a teammate like Kraig Kinser and the Bass Pro Team is great, we all work together. We all feel bad together and we all feel good together. It’s really a lot of fun and we have fun together, so thank you guys for that. To be able to win four of these is awesome. Steve Kinser is the only one that knows what that feels like, so to be able to do this is awesome.”
Johnny Gibson, the longtime and renowned announcer for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series was the emcee for the event which honored each of the 11 full-time drivers with the series. The night began with Don Grabey, the Competition Director for the World of Outlaws offering the opening invocation prior to the dinner portion of the show.
The awards ceremony kicked off with Tom Deery, the President and Chief Operating Officer of the World Racing Group welcoming all the drivers, team members, car owners, promoters, officials, media members, sponsors and those in attendance to the annual Night of Champions and reflected on the 2009 season.
“It’s a great time to be an Outlaw wrapping up a great season,” said Deery. “Like every season, it had its moments. This one had its moments. Moment of heartbreak and moments of disappointment, but for every one of those moments, there was hours of fun, hours of satisfaction and the most incredible feeling of accomplishment. You barnstormed the country and traveled nearly 35,000 miles across this country. You entertained hundreds of thousands of fans at America’s short tracks and you dazzled millions at home watching you on SPEED. You are the toughest hombres of motorsports. You are real racing.”
The Crew Chief of the Year Award was presented to Randy Wolfe, who turns the wrenches for his Lucas on the World of Outlaws trail. For a majority of the season it was just the elder Wolfe working on the car along with his son as they racked up 18 Top-10 finishes with five of those being Top-Fives en route to a 10th-place showing in the final standings.
“I’m shocked,” said Randy Wolfe. “I don’t know really what to say. Thanks to Jim and Laura (Allebach) who have spent their hard earned money to keep us out there on the road. Thanks to Rick Kaylor. He’s responsible for keeping this going also. Thanks to my kid also. This deal is really hard to do, which you all know. Thank you all.”
Brian Ellenberger was awarded the 2009 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award. The native of Butler, Pennsylvania picked up four Top-10 finishes this season including a career-best third-place run at Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas.
“This is a great honor,” said Ellenberger. “I knew Kevin Gobrecht and he was a great driver and a great young man. To receive an award named after him is pretty special. I’m glad that I was able to be out here this year and hopefully we’ll be able to come back next year.”
The 2009 Engine Builder Award was presented to Speedway Engines which powered Joey Saldana to his 21 overall wins in addition to three wins for Craig Dollansky to tally 24 victories to lead all manufacturers. The Chassis Builders Challenge Award went to Maxim Racing, which claimed a total of 36 victories this season, which was more than half of the races run.
The KSE Hard Charger of the Year Award went to series champion Donny Schatz who was the KSE Hard Charger seven times this season to lead all drivers. The KSE Hard Charger Award goes to the driver that passes the most cars in the feature event each race.
The Promoter of the Year was awarded to the City of Dodge City, Kansas and Ed Beckley, the General Manager of Dodge City Raceway Park, the immaculate 3/8-mile, which hosts the annual two-day Boot Hill Showdown.
The 2009 Ted Johnson Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to the sport was presented to Ralph Capitani from Knoxville Raceway. Brian Carter, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the World Racing Group accepted the award for Capitani who was not able to attend and announced the inaugural three-day Hall of Fame event at the legendary half-mile next June.
The first ever World Racing Group Productions Hollywood Award went to Scott Gerkin, Crew Chief for Steve Kinser, for his work on the Quaker State technical pieces during the SPEED broadcasts throughout the season.
Also addressing those in attendance were Ben Geisler, the Chief Marketing Officer for the World Racing Group, Chris Dolack, the Vice President of Public Relations and Carlton Reimers, the Series Director for the World of Outlaws, who thanked the entire World of Outlaws road crew for their hard work and dedication. The road crew consists of: Johnny Gibson, Don Grabey, Eloy Gutierrez, Jim Farley, Luci Farley, Eric Malies, Tom Milne, Allen Parr, Bill Pembleton, Lynda Pembleton, Justin Reimers, Rick Stone and Tony Veneziano.
Brian Carter concluded the night with remarks, thanking all of the drivers, crews, participants and fans for a great 2009 season, before presenting Donny Schatz with the champion’s check and hardware.
“We really made history this year,” said Carter. “Another driver won 20 races. Joey (Saldana) my hat is off to you. You are quite the sportsman and quite the team. You guys are amazing. Jason (Meyers) you guys are reeling him in and that is hard to do. You guys put on exciting racing and I don’t get fatigued if I have to hand Donny (Schatz) the check again in 2010. You guys put on great races and I am excited to be part of that. It’s amazing how the professionalism is shown on the race track and in putting on the show and the professionalism we get from our fans, your fans across the country that recognize the time, effort and sacrifice that everyone makes. It’s very unique in all of motorsports. That makes me proud and glad to be a leader of this.”
The 2010 World of Outlaws season kicks off in just 93 on February 5 at Volusia Speedway Park with the 39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH which will run three consecutive nights at the half-mile.
2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Point Fund Awards