Donny Schatz will be looking to catch up in the World of Outlaws points race this weekend. (Photo by Frank Smith)
FARGO, ND – Ten-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz still loves coming home to North Dakota, but this weekend has added meaning.
In a pandemic-hit season now in its final third, Schatz is hoping a strong North Dakota swing will help him propel him to an 11th series title. He is third in points, 62 behind leader Logan Schuchart.
Schatz was in the thick of the championship hunt before a tough weekend at The One and Only in Knoxville, Iowa Raceway pushed him down in the standings.
However, home cooking may be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Fargo, North Dakota native. Schatz has won Friday night’s venue, River Cities Speedway 12 times, and has won three World of Outlaws victories at Red River Valley Speedway, where the tour takes place on Saturday night.
This earlier success prompted Schatz to start putting pressure on those who came before him in the points again.
âNorth Dakota has been very good to me overall. This is where I still reside and this is where I love to be, âSchatz told SPEED SPORT in a video interview Thursday. âI spend a lot of time here, but I think all the teams will tell you that they have a lot of fun when they come here. The fans are great and it’s just a good time. It sounds like a destination event for everyone except me, you know? I sleep in my own bed. The rest of themâ¦ no one is even close. So it’s really like a destination event.
âWe have had good results in River Cities. We had good results at Red River Valley Speedway. So hopefully we can add to that here this weekend, âSchatz added. “Hopefully we can try to position ourselves a little better in the championship by the end of the weekend and go from there.”
The top five in points – Schuchart, Brad Sweet, Schatz, Carson Macedo and Sheldon Haudenschild – are separated by just 96 markers entering Friday night’s event at Red River Valley Speedway.
With 32 features completed until August 20 and a three-month hiatus from February to May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a very unusual season for The Greatest Show on Dirt.
However, Schatz scoffed at any idea that this year’s Outlaw World Champion should be viewed differently due to the unique circumstances.
âI don’t think it necessarily means more or less,â Schatz said. âI think you take it day to day. We are far from the end of this season and anything can happen. I think if you talk to someone they said early on that they didn’t know how the outlaw world would be able to afford a champion at the end of the yearâ¦ without having the number of races (they normally have) and miss the two west coast swings and have a reduced season. I don’t know if this is the case. I know the All Stars said, âHey guys, we’ve got ‘X’ race count and we’re getting paid. And I think we have some sort of verbal confirmation from the outlaws on this.
“But if you have to ask yourself if a championship means more or less … listen, there will always be questions in your mind as to whether or not it is as important or not, but a reduced number of races is what it boils down to in this case, âhe added. âAt the end of the day, whoever is at the top at the end of the season is going to be a world champion outlaw and that still carries weight.
“It’s going to mean a lot to someone again and hopefully it’s our No.15 team at the end of the day.”