Donny Schatz, a 28-year-old racer from Fargo, N.D., leads the World of Outlaws Sprint Series point standings as the nomadic series races its way to the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown Wednesday night, May 24, at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Schatz and his fellow World of Outlaws competitors were regular visitors to The Dirt Track during the facility's first three seasons, but the last time the 800-horsepower winged sprint cars raced at the four-tenths-mile clay oval was May 24, 2003.

"I'm really excited to be going back to Charlotte Motor Speedway," said Schatz, who wheels the No. 15 ParkerStore sprint car. "It's a first-class facility and we've had such great support from the fans there in the past, and to be a part of the 600 weekend activities again is a big thrill. For me personally, I've made a lot of friends over the years and a bunch of them live in the area, so we're looking forward to going back down there and putting on a good show.

"I want to commend the people at DIRT and Charlotte Motor Speedway for getting us back to these NASCAR markets," Schatz added. "When The Dirt Track opened back in 2000, sprint car racing was really on the climb. We're hoping our return to Charlotte is an indication we are working toward a strong future for sprint car racing."

In 13 World of Outlaws races at The Dirt Track, Schatz has eight top-10 finishes, including a victory on Oct. 5, 2000.

"It's a fast race track and historically, we've been really good on the bigger, faster tracks," he said. "We feel like our motor program with Ron Shaver is the best available and when you look at most of the bigger races they are on the faster tracks. Obviously, we want to be at our best at those tracks, and Charlotte is no different.

"Lowe's is a unique track that starts out wet and locked down, but usually at the end of the night the surface slicks up. That makes for really good racing," Schatz continued. "I'm looking forward to getting back on that red clay. We only see it at a few places, so the track provides us with some diversity. It puts a premium on being able to react to the changing conditions, so you've got to keep up with the race track all night."

The sprint car racing landscape has changed considerably since the World of Outlaws Sprint Series last raced at The Dirt Track, but Schatz, who has 53 career World of Outlaws feature victories, has been a perennial contender since claiming the rookie title in 1997. He finished third in the championship last season and appears to be the man to beat this year.

"We all knew 2006 was going to be unique because of some of the other factors going on, but honestly for the last three years we started the year feeling like we were a contender for the championship," Schatz said. "I couldn't be happier with how the season has gone so far. Sure, we would have liked to win a few more races, but lately Mother Nature has been slowing us down."

In the first 11 races, Schatz led 64 feature laps and claimed three victories.

"Right now, I've got the best race team I've ever had," Schatz noted. "My car owner is really making some good decisions that is going to help us this season and beyond.

"We know the points deal is a long way from being settled, but to be in the lead right now is a far cry from how we usually are when May rolls around. This ParkerStore team has been consistently strong in qualifying and in the feature races all season.

"It's exciting to be a contender to win every night and we know if we win the most races, then the points deal should take care of itself," he concluded.

The late model stock cars of the Goodyear Fastrak Challenge will join the World of Outlaws sprint cars for a full night of racing during the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown on Wednesday night, May 24.

If purchased in advance, reserved tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. They can be obtained by callingthe Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online here.