WOO: Donny Schatz - 2001 World of Outlaws season preview

WOO: Donny Schatz - 2001 World of Outlaws season preview

Post by pr.. » Sun, 18 Feb 2001 15:29:27

MINOT, ND (February 16) - When a series has only had five different    
champions in almost 25 years of competition, it's clear that winning    
the Pennzoil World of Outlaws (WoO) championship is one of the toughest
titles to claim in                                                      

sports. Winning the Outlaw championship comes down to consistent
finishes and more highs than lows over the course of the season.  Donny
Schatz,who first began his WoO career in 1997, is hoping this is the
season he will join Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Bobby Davis, Jr, Mark
Kinser and Dave Blaney as champion of the ultra competitive sprint car
series, which kicks off their season next weekend in California.

"Every year you get stronger, and right now, my mental attitude is the  
best that it has ever been," said Schatz, who will drive his family    
owned ParkerStores #15 J&J. "I'm really e***d to get the season      
started, and                                                            

hopefully, we can get a couple of wins the first weekend and charge    
on from there.  I really feel like we've got a great shot at the        
championship, and I know we're going to give it our best effort and    
that's all part of racing.                                              

There's very few guys that have won a World of Outlaws championship and
I'd be honored to have my name on that list."

Schatz's WoO career has been on a steady climb towards the top since he
made his national debut at the 1996 King's Royal. As an 18-year old on
his way to the National WISSOTA Sprint Car championship, Schatz finished
eighth in the nationally televised WoO race on TNN and e***d many by
joining the Outlaws the following season. To say his rookie season with
the Outlaws was a learning experience would be an understatement, and
the North Dakota native admits things have changed quite a bit since he
his first season as a full-time Outlaw.

"The intensity level of every driver and every team seems to be so much
higher," said Schatz, who won his first WoO feature in August of 1998  
at Riverside Speedway in Cottage Grove, OR. "The fact that every team  
has put                                                                

more emphasis on their engine program and lightening their racecars
definitely upped the pace. It was pretty competitive in 1997, and it
seems like its five times tougher today.  It just makes every night
tougher."

Things have changed somewhat with the World of Outlaws since Schatz
started the annual 100 race schedule, but many racing champions will
tell you that the driver's mindset has a lot to do with who wins and who
doesn't.

"I know mentally I'm a lot more prepared to win races now," claimed
Schatz, who was awarded the Viviran Perseverance Award following the
2000 season.  "When I got in the car before, I'd try to figure what I
was going to do and wonder if I could do it. Now, it's not a question of
if I can do it. I know I can do.  When you get in the car every night
and you're confident of what's going on no matter where you start, your
chances of moving forward are a lot better."

Schatz felt he was ready for a championship last season after winning  
three of the final five WoO races in the 1999 season. The 2000 season  
proved to be one of the most difficult in Schatz's career as he        
struggled through early                                                

season problems, which ultimately led to his crew chief moving
on. Schatz and crewman Shane Anderson spent two months handling the
car alone before Kenny Woodruff joined Donny Schatz Motorsports at the
Knoxville Nationals.  Woodruff's presence helped Schatz get his mental
toughness back immediately as Schatz almost won the biggest race in
sprint car racing.

"My confidence wasn't really great last year from probably a            
combination of things," said Schatz, who was tabbed the "Minot Missile"
by the late Steve Evans while dominating the early laps of the          
Nationals. " I don't feel that                                          

it was all me, but when we teamed up Ken Woodruff after doing all the
work myself, I knew when I got in it every night what to expect.  When
he told me what it's going to do, that's what I expected and that's what
happened. When I was working on the car, it was kind of a hit or miss
situation."

As a more confident driver, Schatz finished the season by winning the  
Williams Grove National Open and became the first driver to finish      
second at the Nationals and to win the National Open in the same        
season. Kenny Weld                                                      

(1972), Doug Wolfgang (1984&1985) Steve Kinser (1992 & 1994) and Mark
Kinser (1999) are the only drivers to win both in the same season, which
makes the accomplishment pretty amazing, but not unbelievable since
Woodruff is one of only a handful of crew chiefs that have ever claimed
the WoO title.

In preparation for the upcoming 2001 WoO season, Schatz recently        
traveled to Australia to keep his driving skills sharp. His ten race    
journey was designed to build his confidence, and it turned out to be  
more than that. Schatz won the 4 of his ten races including Australia's
biggest race, the Warrnambool Classic, and the $50,000-to-win race at  
Parramatta City Raceway.  According to Schatz his recent success "Down  
Under" is going to help him when the                                    

Outlaws begin their season on February 23 at King's Speedway in Hanford,
CA.

"I know a lot of people don't believe me because of what happened last  
year," continued Schatz, who won several races in Australia between the
1999 and 2000 seasons.  "The people I was surrounded by were positive  
all the time. If you have a bad night, it's not your last one. Live    
life, have fun.  Enjoy what your doing and just keeping on going. The  
further you get drug down the worse off you are. Last year, I drug      
myself in the ground and it s                                          

awful tough to do well when you get in the racecar with a poor          
attitude.  I think that is something that I learned in Australia; Win  
or lose, you've got to have a good time and enjoy what your doing. I    
probably learned more this                                              

winter about the mental aspect of racing than I did in the previous two
years."

If this is going to be a championship season, Schatz knows some things  
will have to be different from last season.  The team will utilize a    
new J&J Chassis and have their motors built by Shaver Specialties. Last
year, it took                                                          

Schatz fif*** races to get the ParkerStores #15 inside the top five    
and this year they won't be able to wait that long, and he also knows  
that he needs to continue his success at the "big races".              

"We've been pretty good the last couple years in the big races,"        
commented Schatz.  "I don't really know why that its, but after coming  
that close at Knoxville last year, there's one thing on my mind right  
now and that's                                                          

winning the Nationals. I want to win the races leading up to it, but    
you just have to take it night by night and come Nationals time, I      
think we're going to be pretty impressive. We'll see if can't knock off
as many races as we                                                    

can along the way and stay close in the points chase.  Our goal is for
everybody to keep a good mental attitude and have a lot of fun in the
process."

-Bill Klingeil

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