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Keeping Pace

Donny Schatz Heads to his Hometown for the Magic City Showdown at Nodak Speedway

Donny Schatz celebrates his World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series victory in Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations)
Donny Schatz celebrates his World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series victory in Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations)

Donny Schatz rolls into his native North Dakota looking to win in Minot at the famed Nodak Speedway.

Courtesy: WoO Sprint Car Series Media Relations

Minot, ND—August 19, 2010—Donny Schatz doesn’t get to race quite as often as he used to in his home state of North Dakota, but he looks forward to and enjoys each and every time he gets the chance to race in his home state. The native of Fargo, who was born and raised in Minot, will have two opportunities this week to compete at his home track of Nodak Speedway as the World of Outlaws take part in the Gerdau Ameristeel Magic City Showdown Presented by Sleep Inn & Suites on Friday, August 20 and Saturday, August 21, which will mark the first-ever two-day event for the series at the track which is located on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.
“Minot is my hometown and where I grew up, so it’s definitely neat to have a World of Outlaws event there,” shared Schatz. “They have a new glamorous grandstand and hopefully a lot of people will get to see it and the race track. I just enjoy going up that way. It’s will be the first two-day show on a weekend up there, so we are looking forward to that, having some fun and seeing a lot of people I know.”
Schatz, who has a total of 16 career wins in North Dakota, has won twice at Nodak Speedway, though he is still seeking his first World of Outlaws victory at the track. He has finished fourth and fifth in each of his last two starts with the series at the track. He was battling for the lead in the 2007 Magic City Showdown, before contact with Daryn Pittman led to significant front end damage that ended his night. Schatz is one of just four drivers that have competed in all four previous races for the World of Outlaws at Nodak Speedway.
“It would be pretty big,” he admitted, when asked about winning with the series in Minot. “I’ve had the chance to win few races there. The World of Outlaws is the cream of the crop and that is where all of your pride is winning those races, no matter what corner of the world it’s in. I’d like to win one in front of the hometown fans more than anything. For the fans there, it would be neat to see. We’ve been able to do it in the other parts of the state: Mandan (Dacotah Speedway), Grand Forks (River Cities Speedway) and Fargo (Red River Valley Speedway). It would be pretty fitting to get one there too.”
The racing surface at Nodak Speedway was recently reconfigured to coincide with a brand new state-of-the-art grandstand that was constructed, which is closer to the track that the old grandstand to provide enhanced viewing for fans, along with a brand new state-of-the-art sound system. The track is still a high-banked 3/8-mile and Schatz holds the track record, which he set in time trials in 2007.
“The biggest thing will be the changing of that facility and seeing the big grandstand and what they had to do to compensate for the racing surface,” Schatz explained, when asked if there will be any challenges this weekend. “I’m curious to see how that all played out. I’ve seen it a couple of times, but they just finished working on it here recently and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turned out.”
Schatz heads into the Magic City Showdown, which kicks off the 2010 Gold Rush Tour for the World of Outlaws, fourth in points on the strength of three A-Feature wins with 37 Top-10 finishes of which 24 are Top-Five performances. He leads the series with eight wins in the dash to earn pole position in main events.
“Things have been pretty good for us for quite a while when you take away some of the silly DNF’s that we’ve had,” noted the four-time and defending series champion. “We’re not where we want to be, no one will sit here and say they are happy being in fourth. We’re a championship team and I have championship guys. Our performance hasn’t been quite to the level we expected, but when you set the bar high, it’s pretty hard to meet that day after day after day.”
Schatz, who is in his third season driving for Tony Stewart Racing, which is owned by the two-time NASCAR champion, has had more than his fair share of bad luck this season, including getting caught up in a first-lap accident at Williams Grove Speedway in the spring after starting on the pole, as well as having a flat tire at Eldora Speedway while running second right before the race was red-flagged for rain.
“We’ve had good finishes and real good race cars and our motors have been running well,” he explained. “We have all the pieces here sometimes you just have to have a little luck. We haven’t really had all of that on our side this year. Sometimes you have to be in the right spot at the right time and I’ve put us in some bad spots too. It takes everything and we’ve been happy with how everything has been. I’m just looking forward to trying to win that fifth championship at the end of the year.”
Schatz is currently 165 markers behind point leader Joey Saldana with 21 events remaining in 2010, as he seeks his fifth consecutive series title. Schatz’s teammate, 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, is the only driver that has ever won five straight titles, accomplishing that feat twice, including once winning six straight. The Gold Rush Tour will take the series to six different tracks in four states and one Canadian Province for a total of 11 races and Schatz has traditionally run strong at all of those venues and carries momentum in from a runner-up finish last weekend in the Knoxville Nationals.
“Those guys are definitely going to have to have some problems, but we had those problems to get in this position,” shared Schatz, when asked what it would take to contend for the title. “It’s not beyond happening. I feel real good with how our performance has been. Joey (Saldana) and Jason (Meyers) haven’t won championships before, so they are not really sure going forth what it takes to do that, while Steve (Kinser) and I have both been lucky enough to have won them. We kind of know how to do the mental side of it, so it will be kind of unique to see how that plays out with those guys all being pretty close. That mental side plays on you a little bit, so you have to know how to handle it. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can get ourselves back up there and be a contender.”

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.