WoO Champ Schatz Eyes Eckerd Outlaw Showdown
Now, Schatz is on a mission to defend his title and the 29-year-old racer from Fargo, N.D., can bolster his championship hopes by winning the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown Friday night, May 25, at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"It feels great to have won the championship, but once this season started the focus turned to winning it again," Schatz explained. "Through the years, we have won a lot of races but to finally put the consistency together that we did last year, and win big races like the Knoxville Nationals and Lernerville's Silver Cup, was quite an accomplishment.
"Our goal this year is to win the most races," Schatz added. "The guy who wins the most races almost always wins the championship. Winning is pretty addictive, and the more you win the more you want to win the next one."
Even with a championship trophy already on his shelf, Schatz still feels the pressure of racing in one of the world's most competitive dirt-track series.
"There is always pressure-it's just a matter of where it comes from," he said. "Winning the championship was a huge accomplishment and something no one can ever take away from me. But I wouldn't say there is any less pressure now, because once you reach a certain level you want to keep reaching higher."
Following in the tire tracks of his sprint car racing father, Schatz started his career in go-karts at age 5 and was just 15 years old when he made his sprint car debut in 1993.
Schatz captured the WISSOTA sprint car championship in 1996 and was the World of Outlaws' rookie of the year in 1997. This is his 11th season with the World of Outlaws and he has 73 series victories, including four this year.
Included among Schatz's WoO victories is a 2000 triumph at The Dirt Track and he's eagerly anticipating the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown, which is part of Coca-Cola 600 Week.
"We're going back to The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway to do one thing-win," said Schatz. "I haven't won there since 2000 and we need to do it again. It's a great atmosphere with a great crowd. It's awesome for our corporate partners like Global ParkerStore and Hose Doctor and it'll be shown on SPEED so we want to put on a good show.
"I really like The Dirt Track because it's a high-speed track," he added. "It's wide and allows for some good side-by-side racing." Schatz, who drives the No. 15 Global ParkerStore J&J sprint car owned by his parents Danny and Diane, enjoys driving World of Outlaws sprint cars but is keeping his options open for the future.
"We're not thinking of anything more than sprint cars right now, but we're always open to options," he said. "I spent a season racing USAC Silver Crown cars and I've tested pavement late models. There are a lot of guys that have dirt racing roots that are succeeding in NASCAR. There's always a chance something like that may work out in the future."
In addition to Schatz, the entry list for the May 25 Eckerd Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track includes 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser and 2001 titlist Danny Lasoski.
Second-generation driver Joey Saldana, piloting the No. 9 sprint car owned by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne, and veteran Paul McMahan, driving the No. 20 sprint car owned by two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart, will also be among the more than 30 cars expected to battle for the $10,000 first prize.
The late model stock cars of the Goodyear Fastrak Challenge will join the sprint cars during the action-packed program when on-track activities begin at 7:30 p.m.
Reserved seats for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown on Friday, May 25, are just $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online.