Tony Stewart Racing Tandem Leads Outlaws into Memorial Day Weekend
INDIANAPOLIS (May 22, 2012) – There is something special about being an American on Memorial Day weekend. It’s a time to remember and honor those who protect and serve this country. The sport of auto racing is just about as American as it gets and, on Memorial Day weekend, the sport traditionally takes center stage nationally with major events in Charlotte and Indianapolis. The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series brings its grassroots short-track racing heritage to both regions beginning with Friday’s Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C., and concluding Monday with an event at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.
Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz lead the Outlaws into this weekend of opportunity. Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, intensified his pursuit of a 21st WoO championship by winning his second race of the season last weekend in New York and, by doing so, climbed atop the championship standings. Schatz, pilot of TSR’s No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, comes into the weekend as defending race-winner at both The Dirt Track and Lawrenceburg. Schatz, who has led the WoO championship standings five times in 2012, swept a pair of races at The Dirt Track in last fall’s World Finals and was victorious in the Outlaws’ most recent stop on the high banks of Lawrenceburg in June 2009.
After dominating last year’s World Finals, Schatz is optimistic that a return visit to the 4/10-mile, semi-banked dirt oval will be the cure to what is currently ailing his STP-backed team. The four-time WoO champion is the only driver to compete in all 29 WoO races staged at The Dirt Track, which opened in May 2000. He has won on the red clay six times, earned 20 top-fives, and finished inside the top-10 25 times. The Fargo, N.D., resident has finished inside the top-eight 16 consecutive times at Charlotte. He has twice won the May Outlaw Showdown. The first was in 2007, when he fell back as far as 10th before charging back past leader Paul McMahan with only a handful of laps remaining. In 2010, Schatz fended off several challenges from Joey Saldana to score the Charlotte victory. Last May, he raced his way from ninth to finish third behind McMahan and Kinser.
When Schatz raced to victory at Lawrenceburg in June 2009, Indiana became the 28th state where Schatz earned a WoO A-Feature triumph. The STP driver out-dueled Jason Meyers and Saldana for the win and continued a string of top finishes at the track. In 2004, he finished third after a race-long battle with Danny Smith, and he charged from 14th to fourth in 2006.
Friday’s Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Charlotte is expected to be contested in front of a sellout crowd of more than 15,000 spectators, as well as a national television audience with SPEED airing its first WoO event of 2012. Ralph Sheheen, Brad Doty, Bobby Gerould and Matt Yocum will bring fans the action during SPEED’s live broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. EDT.
Friday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4:30 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For more details, contact The Dirt Track at (800) 455-3267. The official Web site of Charlotte Motor Speedway is www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Monday at Lawrenceburg, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, contact Lawrenceburg Speedway at (812) 539-4700 or visit the track’s Web site at www.lawrenceburgspeedway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this week’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
The first quarter of the season is now over. Has the season gone as planned?
“We planned on being a lot better than we have been. Last fall, we went to Talladega (Short Track in Alabama) and then Charlotte to close the year and really had a good package. We finished second at Talladega and won both nights at Charlotte and really felt like we were headed in the right direction. This year, we tried some things early in Florida that didn’t seem to lead us where we wanted. Rick Warner and Steve Swenson are working really hard to get us back where we can be a contending team. We’re not there, yet, but we’ll get there. I guess the positive is that I don’t feel like we’ve even come close to where we can be and things are still right there for us. I’m sure hoping we have a lot better second quarter and that leads to an incredible second half of the season.”
You’ve had more success than any other driver at The Dirt Track. What has been the secret to your success there?
I don’t know that we have a secret, but Charlotte just seems to be one of those places where our combination works. We race there twice a year. First in May, when the weather is just starting to get hot, and then we close the year there in November. In May, it always seems to be about the time things start going good for us and, in November, it’s like we’ve been working on things for the upcoming year and they are really coming together. I love racing there. The people come out and support the event. The energy and buzz about the event is something that really adds to the race. We race to win and, fortunately, we’ve been able to win a few races in Charlotte. Right now, we could really use a good night and I can’t think of a better place than Charlotte for us to get things back the way we need them to be.”