CONCORD, N.C. — If you talked to Donny Schatz following yet another championship celebration at The Dirt Track at Charlotte last weekend, you might have thought he’d just won his first World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series title instead of his ninth.
After all, the smile he carried was as if he’d never done this before and his enthusiasm was infectious to the crew and surrounding fans.
Amid a season where he racked up 20 Outlaws victories for the fifth consecutive season, won his 10th Knoxville Nationals crown, scored his 10th win all-time at Charlotte and set himself up to chase both his 250th feature win and 10th-career series title with the Outlaws in 2018, Schatz has remained humble and stayed focused on bettering himself each and every race day.
After all, he knows that success in the sport is fleeting and can easily dry up at a moment’s notice.
“You have to focus forward; you can’t spend time looming on what you’ve already done or you’ll be passed before you know it,” Schatz told Race Chaser Online following the Textron Off-Road World Finals. “I appreciate what we’ve done but at the same time, we know that next year it could be someone else doing what we’re doing right now, so we have to keep pushing forward.”
“These guys do an incredible job of continuing to find ways to make us stronger as a team. When you build a chemistry, it makes that process easier. We’ve been with this team 10 years now, and you just keep building on things. Things that some teams can’t find, we do and don’t even know it. … There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, and they’re just a great group of guys. All these people standing here … they enjoy it with us, so that’s why we’re standing here with them.”
In a season where he put up numbers that again led the Outlaws in every statistical category — 20 wins, 66 top-fives and 74 top-10s — Schatz admitted that his team did have to fight through not being as strong as they traditionally have been during the hot summer months.
“We were really not stellar throughout the middle of the year and we didn’t have a big points lead like we’ve had the last few years, but even though we didn’t have that points lead, we stayed consistent, we worked through trying to get things and we actually built a little bit of a gap that way,” Schatz explained. “That’s what stood out to me about our year. You can’t sit and worry about points, but they’re always in the back of your mind if it’s close.”
“In this sport, your performance … what you do off the race track is probably what affects it the most, so that sticks out the most to me is how hard these guys dug and how under the knife and under the gun and under the pressure they were all season long. They just adhered to it and welcomed it, and when you do those sort of things that are uncomfortable, that just makes you stronger and that’s what makes me look forward to working with them again in 2018.”
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