ALGER, Wash. – On the strength of four wins in a row since the Knoxville Nationals, Donny Schatz leads the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series into the Western Swing, beginning this weekend at the Skagit Speedway in Alger, Washington.
The Western Swing encompasses six nights of racing up and down the left coast, including events in Skagit; Elma; Lebanon, Oregon and Chico, California.
Since finishing second at the Knoxville Nationals, Schatz has been on fire, claiming the last four series events at the helm of the Tony Stewart Racing No. 15 machine.
Schatz earned a sweep of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series events in Skagit during the 2014 season, in addition to winning the last three races at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, the site of Monday night’s race. To top it off, he is also the defending Gold Cup champion at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. His most recent win on Sunday night in his home state of North Dakota marked his 20th overall triumph this season.
However, Schatz knows that a fifth-straight win isn’t assured in any way.
“It’s still about working hard and having the best car,” the Fargo, N.D. veteran expressed. “Just because we had the best car and won the races in North Dakota doesn’t guarantee us anything at Skagit or Elma. The guys made the two-day drive from North Dakota and then spent the past couple of days getting ready for Skagit. It’s a little different place, but we have a good starting point (with our setup).”
“It’s going to come back down to qualifying and advancing to the dash. Sometimes passing can be difficult, so we’re going to try and position ourselves in a good spot. I’m looking forward to it.”
The question everyone will be asking is: can anyone beat Schatz?
If someone can, it may very well be Shane Stewart, who captured last year’s visit to Skagit Speedway and is a two-time Dirt Cup champion in his career at the track.
Stewart has also won in the past at Willamette Raceway and scored opening night at the Gold Cup Race of Champions last season. He has scored five wins so far this season aboard the Larson Marks Racing No. 2 and hopes to add to that number during the Western Swing.
“We look forward to getting back to Skagit Speedway this weekend,” Stewart commented. “After winning there last year it definitely gives us confidence going back this Friday & Saturday. Skagit has always been a good track for me and hopefully that will be the case this weekend. A strong run can certainly set the tone for the Western Swing. Everything sort of winds down after the swing as well, so we definitely look forward to having six nights of racing this next week.”
California’s Brad Sweet is second in points going into the swing and will hope to bring home his first Gold Cup triumph at the end of the end of it. The driver of the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 has raced to seven victories so far this season.
Oklahoma’s Daryn Pittman; Connecticut’s David Gravel and Indiana’s Joey Saldana round out the top-five in points going into the Western Swing.
Sweet, Pittman and Gravel are locked in a hotly contested battle for the runner up spot in the standings, as just seven-digits separate the trio. All three traditionally run strong on the West Coast.
Completing the top-10 in the standings are Stewart; Louisiana’s Jason Johnson; Pennsylvania’s Logan Schuchart; Tennessee’s Jason Sides and Paul McMahan.
CREDIT: World of Outlaws