GRANVILLE, NSW, AUSTRALIA (January 21) - As a competitor there is no better feeling than believing you can win every time out. World of Outlaws sprint car star Donny Schatz left the United States in late December hoping to win every race he started during his month-long assault on the Australian sprint car scene.
On Saturday night, Schatz completed an incredible three-night sweep racing the #2 Pick N' Payless J&J with Shaver power owned by Gary Rush Racing to victory in the "Outlaws Down Under III" finale at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway (PCR) near Sydney.
"This is a great feeling," said Schatz, following his eighth win in nine Australian starts. "To win two out of the three annual Outlaws Down Under events here, and winning all three nights. It's been an awesome performance by this race team to produce this car, and even I did a few good things tonight."
With arguably the best sprint car drivers in the world competing in the three-day event, Schatz was the class of feeling looking as strong as he has been since arriving. After winning five of his first six races, he continued his dominance leading all 30 laps of Thursday night's preliminary feature and 25 of 30 laps in Friday's race.
The Fargo, ND racer accumulated the most points in preliminary action and started the Dash event on the pole. He dropped to fifth after a near incident and started the 40-lap feature from the inside of row three.
"Starting five wasn't the plan, but at least I didn't have to build a race car," explained Schatz. "Joey (Saldana) and I came really close when he tried to get by me in the dash, and we nearly got wiped out."
Schatz used the starting position to his advantage during the first 10 laps of the race. He searched the racetrack looking for the best way around the extremely slick surface. Saldana and Daryn Pittman took turns leading the race early on running the high groove, but by lap 15 the cushion was nearly gone. Two laps later, Schatz made his move for the lead and never looked back.
"I didn't want to start off the front row of the A-Main, because look at the two guys that started off the front - they didn't know where to run and it bit them," said Schatz who also won last year's Outlaws Down Under finale. "It was one of them tracks were you were better off coming from behind.
"I could run the top, the middle or the bottom. It was only a matter of time in a forty-lap race before the kerb was going to be blown over the edge; it has been doing that night after night. We knew our race car was good through the middle, so we went back to what worked last night with a few adjustments."
The journey to Australia each "off-season" is used to keep the WoO racer sharp and ready for his "regular" job. He has won his share in the past, but this year's trip has provided the best stretch of results during his time behind the wheel of sprint car.
"This is as good a run as I have ever had in my career," said Schatz. "If you would have told us a month ago we were going to win eight, I wouldn't have believed you. It has been a lot of fun - winning eight out of nine nights, no matter who was here. The team has everything clicking right now, so hopefully I can take this form back to the USA."
The success has been all about teamwork according to Schatz, who now will venture away from PCR for his final few races entering the King's Challenge in Mt. Gambier and prestigious "Classic" at Premier Speedway in Warnambool.
"A car owner is never really going to show he is happy, because they think the driver is going to get slack on them, but deep inside he'd be pretty happy right now," noted Schatz. "Rushy expects a lot of me, and rightly so, he's been a ten-time Australian Champion, and his trophy room is breathtaking with all the races he's won. I have done a lot in my career, but I can't compare it to the career of Garry Rush."