Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance-backed team embarked on a busy week of action as the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series continued the “Month of Money” with four races scheduled in a six-day stretch. The eight-time and reigning WoO champion added to the momentum from his Kings Royal triumph the previous weekend by winning his sixth career Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania last Tuesday. The Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team continued its podium streak Friday night in the opener of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with a third-place run. Mother Nature was the winner the rest of the weekend, forcing WoO officials to postpone the 30-lap, $20,000-to-win Summer Nationals finale until Sept. 28 and Sunday’s scheduled race at Ransomville (N.Y.) Speedway to a date to be determined in October.
“We had a great start to the week with the night we had at Lernerville,” said Schatz, who drove the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J to his 15th WoO win of 2017. “Coming off the Kings Royal, we knew it was going to be a big week. Tuesday was one of those nights where things just worked extremely well. My guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti) gave me a great machine all night. There is a lot of prestige to these big races, but we treat them all the same. Every race out here counts. There are some guys who get in these races and try to do too much. We had to survive a little scare early in the race and then we knew we had to be there at the end. It takes a complete team to win races like the Kings Royal and the Silver Cup and, thankfully, Tony (Stewart) has surrounded me with great people.”
The 92-race WoO schedule is highlighted by a number of marquee events and the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup is one of them. Schatz won the event in 2006 and 2007 by racing to victory in the 40-lap contests and earned the Silver Cup title in 2010, 2013 and 2014 when the event was split into twin 30-lap features. Last season, the format returned to a single 40-lap race with $25,000 up for grabs. Schatz opened the evening by qualifying third in his qualifying group and followed that up by racing to victory in the third heat. He finished third in the Craftsman Club Dash to earn the second starting spot for the 40-lap A-Feature. Schatz held the fourth position during the first handful of laps and survived a couple of close calls with Tim Shaffer by lap 10. Shaffer made a bold move on lap nine and forced Schatz to take evasive action in turn one. The result was Schatz losing a couple of spots and a lot of track position on leaders Sheldon Haudenschild and Daryn Pittman. He charged his way forward, ultimately passing Shaffer and Pittman to reach second. With only 10 laps remaining, Schatz did everything he could to get around Haudenschild. The two exchanged the lead while working through heavy traffic, setting up what looked to be a thrilling last five laps. A caution on lap 35 took the leaders out of traffic and provided Haudenschild with an open track. On the restart, Haudenschild pulled away in turns one and two, but he got hung up on the cushion leaving turn four, resulting in his racecar flipping. Schatz would assume the top spot and he drove away following the restart and raced to his eighth career triumph at Lernerville and 244th career WoO A-Feature win.
After traveling across Pennsylvania, Schatz and the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team took on the “PA Posse” for the second time in 2017. The two-night Summer Nationals is recognized as the third event of the Outlaws’ “Month of Money” with $20,000 on the line in Saturday’s finale. Friday night offered the No. 15 team an opportunity to chase another WoO victory and add to its two-race winning streak. Schatz qualified seventh in his group and flexed his muscle in the third heat race when he charged past two cars to score a coveted spot in the Craftsman Club Dash. Schatz finished third in the six-lap dash and started the 25-lap A-Feature inside of row two. He held the fourth position for the first 15 laps of the race before a caution slowed the action. On the ensuing restart, leader Lance Dewease flipped in turn two, forcing another restart. David Gravel was called for jumping the start, which moved Schatz to the outside of row one alongside leader Brock Zearfoss. Zearfoss was able to pull away from Schatz on the restart and the battle for Schatz was on with Gravel for the next three laps. A final caution on lap 19 offered another double-file restart with Schatz in third. He passed Gravel for second on lap 20, but Gravel got the spot back on the following lap. With Schatz and Gravel fighting for second, Zearfoss pulled away to score his first career WoO A-Feature win.
Saturday’s Summer Nationals finale was pushed through quickly with threatening weather all around the historic half-mile oval. Schatz was the 10th car to make a qualifying lap in the field of 38 cars and he turned the seventh-fastest lap. He finished third in the first heat and was scheduled to start the 30-lap A-Feature ninth. Rain began to fall just as the teams were called to push their cars to the starting grid. After a 40-minute delay, WoO officials postponed the running of the A-Feature until Sept. 28, when the Outlaws return to Williams Grove for the National Open.
The rain unfortunately followed the traveling Outlaws north on Sunday. After making the nearly seven-hour trek to Ransomville Speedway, the Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team was ready to lead the WoO stars into action at the half-mile dirt oval for the first time since 1997. A heavy rain shower hit the track just after 5 p.m. and the amount of water the storm delivered caused the race to be postponed until later in the season.
With 50 of the 92 scheduled races complete, Schatz has accumulated 7,030 points and leads the championship standings over Brad Sweet by 76 points. The eight-time and reigning WoO champion also leads the series in wins with 15 and top-fives with 39.
The Arctic Cat/Ford Performance team traveled into Canada Sunday night to prepare for the season’s only race north of the border on Tuesday night at Ohsweken (Ontario) Speedway. Schatz will look to race for his 16th WoO victory of the season in the Arrow Express Six Nations Showdown. He is the defending race winner and has won three of the last four WoO races at Ohsweken. The team will return home after Tuesday’s race to get ready for a Michigan-Wisconsin doubleheader over the weekend with a race Friday at Hartford (Mich.) Speedway and Saturday at the Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway.