Appreciation of the Knoxville Mystic

INDIANAPOLIS (June 7, 2017) – One of the truly unique aspects of competing with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series is the opportunity to race at more than 40 tracks each year. Each track provides a new challenge, but a handful are special beyond description. For the past 21 seasons, Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz has been circling dirt ovals and chasing his dream of being an Outlaw and, year after year, the eight-time and reigning WoO champion has been in awe of the famed Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.

This weekend, the nine-time Knoxville Nationals champion will look to continue adding to his legacy on the Marion County Fairgrounds as he leads the Outlaws to Central Iowa for the Outlaws’ two-night Brownells Big Guns Bash. The event carries added significance as Friday and Saturday mark the only two nights of action Schatz will have at the facility in advance of the 57th annual 5-Hour Energy Knoxville Nationals contested in August.

Schatz, who first visited Knoxville as a teenager in 1990, ranks 11th all-time in wins at the facility with 24 career triumphs. Fifteen of those have come during the prestigious Knoxville Nationals – nine A-Feature triumphs, three preliminary feature wins and three World Challenge victories. The Fargo, North Dakota racer earned his first win at the track during the 2001 Nationals, when he raced to victory in the second qualifying-night main event. He won qualifying-night features in 2002 and 2003 before breaking through and winning his first Nationals A-Main in 2006.

His first career WoO A-Feature triumph at Knoxville came in October 2006, less than two months after he scored his first Knoxville Nationals triumph. That win was his 50th WoO career A-Feature. Knoxville was also the venue where Schatz parked TSR’s No. 15 in victory lane for the first time in May 2008. Last June, he finished second in the opener and won the Xtream Shootout presented by Mediacom finale to continue his streak of seasons with a victory at the half-mile, dirt oval to six.

Schatz and the TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb team of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti travel to Iowa with their sights set on challenging for WoO victory number 10 on the season. Last year’s Knoxville June triumph was the team’s ninth of the year and ultimately one of 25 victories that carried the team to the WoO championship.

SCHATZ FAST FACTS: KNOXVILLE

  • Schatz made his Knoxville Raceway debut in the 1993 Knoxville Nationals just days after his 16th birthday.
  • He ranks 11th overall in career wins at the track with 24 and is just one victory behind Skip Jackson for 10th.
  • He has scored June Outlaw triumphs in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
  • In all eight WoO championship seasons, he has at least one victory at Knoxville.
  • Schatz has made 87 career WoO main event starts (69 A-main and 18 prelims) at the track.
  • Last August, Schatz finished second in the Knoxville Nationals, ending a five-race winning streak in Sprint car racing’s signature event. Since 2000, Schatz has finished first or second in the Nationals 14 of the last 16 years.

SCHATZ FAST FACTS: 2017

  • Through 32 of 92 scheduled races in the 2017 WoO campaign, Schatz leads the championship standings with 4,512 markers and holds a 76-point advantage over David Gravel.
  • Schatz leads the series with nine wins and 24 top-five finishes. His 27 top-10s are second most behind the 28 of Gravel and Brad Sweet.
  • • Six of his eight victories have come on half-mile, dirt oval tracks.

For both events at Knoxville Raceway, the pit gates at 2 p.m. CDT and the grandstands will open at 5:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.knoxvilleraceway.com or call 641-842-5431.

Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live video is available on a pay-per-view basis and free audio coverage is available as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com. Visit to DIRTVision.com for more information.

Fans are encouraged to follow the progress of Schatz, TSR and the No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J throughout the campaign on the web and social media. More information can be found at www.TonyStewartRacing.com, www.arcticcat.com, and www.donnyschatzmotorsports.com.

 

Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TonyStewartRacing or on Twitter and Instagram @TonyStewart_Rcg.

Donny Schatz: Facebook at www.facebook.com/DonnySchatz or on Twitter and Instagram @DonnySchatz.

Arctic Cat: Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArcticCat or on Twitter and Instagram @ArcticCat_atv @ArcticCat_Snow

Curb: Facebook at www.facebook.com/CurbRecords or on Twitter and Instagram @CurbRecords.

Ford Performance: Facebook at www.facebook.com/FordPerformance or on Twitter and Instagram @FordPerformance.

Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J:

 

Throughout your World of Outlaws career you’ve always appreciated the signature tracks on the tour. What makes racing at Knoxville Raceway special for you?

“Knoxville was always the place people talked about. The Nationals was like Disney World for me back when my dad took me there for the first time. I was awe, and then being able to race there was like a dream come true. When I first went out on the road with the Outlaws, you knew racing Knoxville was important. It’s always been a special place to me. We worked hard to figure out a way to be competitive and ultimately were able to climb the mountain there. Those are all special memories that I appreciate. I still get excited driving through town and making that left run into the track. It’s the kind of place that brings out the best in you. The fan support is incredible. The racetrack does a tremendous job of continuing to improve the facility and they put the work in on the track surface. It’s important to them for the racing to be good and as a competitor it’s all you can ask for. A lot has changed the past 20 years since I’ve been out on the road, but my excitement for running at the Knoxville has only continued to grow.”

With only one weekend of World of Outlaws competition at Knoxville Raceway in advance of the Nationals, does it put added pressure on you and your team this weekend?

“We have extremely high expectations as a team. Tony (Stewart) has built an incredible organization and we all have the same goal and that’s winning races. And winning at Knoxville is one of most important goals every year. All of the World of Outlaw teams are pretty much in the same situation with the way our schedule works, so you do put some extra emphasis on this weekend. Finding combinations that work not only at Knoxville, but also at other places we race is all part of. You do want to learn some things this weekend. Maybe you try something Friday in qualifying or during a heat race that could give you an advantage during the Nationals. Experience at Knoxville is really important. My Arctic Cat/Ford Performance guys – Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti – have put in a lot of time over the years there and we’ve worked with our core group of manufacturers for a long time to build a program that helps us to adapt to a lot of different scenarios that may come up there. It’s certainly an important weekend as far as the big picture goes. My team is hungry to win and we’re going to do everything we can put ourselves in a position to do that this weekend.”