BEAVER DAM, Wis. – Donny Schatz just wanted to win one race. Then he’d feel complete as a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series driver.
Twenty-five years and 10 championships later, the 42-year-old Fargo, N.D., driver is four victories away from 300 career World of Outlaws wins. His next chance to win will be this weekend at Beaver Dam Raceway – where he has two victories already.
“You look at trophies. You look at some things that have happened in the past and you think ‘How did I get here?’” Schatz said. “It’s crazy to think how I got to this point.”
He has two wins, so far, this season with Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – winning the season opening race at Volusia Speedway Park and at Lake Ozark Speedway in May. With those victories, he currently sits at 296 career wins. Reaching 300 this year, while not guaranteed, is highly likely as Schatz hasn’t won less than eight races in a single season since 2011.
Milestone numbers were never a goal for Schatz when he first started. He approached them in stride, he said. First, he wanted to win one race. Then a second. Then a third. Once the wins came on a regular basis, he looked to have the most wins, the most top-fives and the most championships. However, it’s not the numbers that have kept him going. It’s the competition.
“You know how hard it is to stay on top,” Schatz said. “That’s a challenge amongst yourself. You know you can do it, but it changes every day. A lot of guys that are trying to do it have nothing to lose. That’s what makes the level of competition in this sport what it is. That’s what makes me want to keep doing it is it’s always challenging, and the target is always moving. So, you hope when it’s all said and done that you’re the bullseye that keeps moving along with it.”
Once at 300 career wins, he’d remain third on the all-time wins list. Ahead of him are three-time series champion Sammy Swindell in second with 394 wins and 20-time series champion Steve Kinser with 690 wins at the top.
To Schatz, they’re all just numbers. He’s focused on winning however many races he can. What that number is at the end of the day doesn’t matter.
“I never met anybody that said, ‘Man, I hope when I retire I’ve won 600 career [Features],’ because there’s not many people in this that I don’t know would be arrogant enough to say something like that and actually believe they could do it,” Schatz said. “It’s just one day at a time. Take what’s in front of you. Make the best of it. Hopefully you have some success along the way and self-satisfaction.”
Before joining three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart’s World of Outlaws team in 2008, Schatz drove for his own team, based out of North Dakota. It was fun. It was tough. And it was necessary to get him to where he is now.
“There’s no way I would’ve been able to get to this part of the sport without having my own team,” Schatz said. “You know, because I wasn’t good enough to drive for car owners and those sorts of things and my family always supported me. But it got to a point where I had the opportunity to go drive for Tony Stewart and it allowed my family to focus on their business and the family and the racing was what we all loved to do.
“But it was someone else’s financial problem and management problem. Tony is the perfect person for that. He has a great race team and a great business setup there (in Indiana) and a great background and great location. A lot of things would have had to change for me to continue on with my own team. We just couldn’t make it work. So, we’re able to race the same way and as competitively and as professionally as we felt we could with our own team. And even more. And it’s allowed us to enjoy life a lot more.”
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