Donny Schatz was clearly depressed following his performance at the Kings Royal. He dutifully signed autographs and posed for photos with a throng of fans, but his face wore the evidence of the loss of what would have been his fourth consecutive Kings Royal crown, and would have earned him a $175,000 check.
“We were under the impression that we weren’t having a fuel stop so we put a big tank on, and we had a fuel stop,” Schatz stated. “So, we paid the price getting to that point and it just made my car handle terrible. We’ll never do it again, I can assure you. I guess we’ll walk around the pit area before we start on these big races and see who’s got what size tank on. It is what it is. It’s crazy how one thing like that can make your car that ill when you fill it with fuel, but it did. There’s no way around it. It is what it is.
“I can assure you, the cars that were running first and second when the red came out – with small tanks – weren’t gonna make it.”
Schatz has struggled in 2019. Not by normal standards – most teams would be more than satisfied with the results of the first half of Schatz’s 2019 season – but, by Donny Schatz standards.
This is a team accustomed to winning more than 20 World of Outlaws races each year.
Two facts stand out: first, that longtime crew chief Ricky Warner is not on the road, and the team is adjusting to crew man Steve “Scuba” Swenson transitioning to take on the role, and second, that despite being a driver for Tony Stewart Racing and not in family-owned equipment in years, the 15 car is very much a family team.
Schatz’s family is a close family and its members are involved on a day-to-day basis. Donny’s father, Danny, has been fighting some health issues and that has undoubtedly taken a toll on the 10-time WoO champion.
Approaching the mid-point of July, Schatz had only earned three Outlaws features. Then, Donny became Donny.
On July 13, he dominated the Badger 40 at Wisconsin’s Wilmot Raceway. After a rain-out at the Doty Classic at Attica (which will now be competed as a two-day All Star Circuit of Champions event on Aug. 30-31), Schatz towed into Eldora Speedway for four nights of racing – the makeup feature of the rain-delayed Let’s Race Two alongside the USAC National Sprint Car Series, as well as the three days of the Kings Royal.
In Wednesday night’s USAC sprint feature, Tyler Courtney took the win, in what was celebrated as the 200th USAC National Sprint Car Series event contested at Eldora Speedway. The win was Sunshine’s third straight at Eldora.
Only three other drivers (Jud Larson, Bubby Jones and Jack Hewitt) have won three consecutive USAC sprint races at the Rossburg, Ohio oval.
But, in the WoO feature, Brad Sweet led early before Schatz took over on lap eight and went on to take the checkers.
David Gravel, Logan Schuchart, Sweet and Greg Wilson made up the top five.
Sweet entered Eldora Speedway in the midst of a stellar season, with nine wins and leading the point battle.
He knows what it takes to win the Kings Royal, having worn the crown in 2013. He qualified second in his group, with Schatz third in his qualifying group, and put himself on the front row before leading early and then finishing fourth in the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49.
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