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Nelson: No time to slow down for Donny Schatz

Grand Forks Admittedly, it was a demanding Friday night for driver Donny Schatz at River Cities Speedway. "I'm tired," said Schatz, after racing two late model features at RCS. And he had good reason to be exhausted, considering the race schedule...

Grand Forks

Admittedly, it was a demanding Friday night for driver Donny Schatz at River Cities Speedway.

"I'm tired," said Schatz, after racing two late model features at RCS. And he had good reason to be exhausted, considering the race schedule he keeps.

The Fargo driver may have one of the toughest-if not toughest-schedules in motorsports as he competes with the World of Outlaws sprint cars and runs as many late model races as he can each season.

After loading his No. 15 late model into his hauler at RCS, it was back on the road to his home in Fargo. On Saturday, he raced his sprint car with the Outlaws in Huron, S.D. That capped a week that saw him race with the Outlaws in Joliet, Ill., on Tuesday and in Deer Creek, Minn., on Thursday. On Wednesday, he raced a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event in Joliet.

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He'll race 92 nights this season with Outlaws, a schedule that began in February and will end in November. His nights in the late model may push 20 or so when the season ends, meaning he'll race more than 110 events in 2017.

"I'll race wherever I can," said Schatz. "Actually, I've been running wild here lately, to the point where I can't even get (a late model race) on my schedule.

"If my guy tells me I'm not racing somewhere or it's raining and there is a (late model) race to go to, I plan on being there."

He finished second in both late model features Friday night. Dustin Strand won both, but he had to hold off a hard-charging Schatz in both races. Schatz started 10th in the first feature and eighth in the second. In both features, he finished less than a second behind Strand.

"For as little as I get in the late model, I was happy with my result," said Schatz.

Strand, meanwhile, said wins coming against Schatz carry more weight.

"It's a lot of fun racing against him," said Strand. "He's probably one of the most-if not the most-accomplished race car driver of our time. He's a great competitor and a great guy to race against.

"It's always an awesome feeling when you can beat him."

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Schatz is the face of the World of Outlaws. He's the best sprint car driver in the country and is shooting for his ninth WoO championship this season. In the history of the Outlaws, only legends Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell have more feature wins than Schatz.

It seems the more he races, the better he becomes.

There are major differences in racing an open-wheel sprint car and a big-body late model. But he's tough to beat in either car.

"These late models are technical," he said. "They're pretty tough. You have to stay on top of everything. I'm not very good with the brakes so I have a little bit to learn."

He raced his late model for consecutive nights early this season in Florida.

"I raced it five or six straight nights, and by the third or fourth night you start to feel pretty good because you're becoming comfortable with the adjustments and what you're doing with the car," said Schatz. "But when you take a month or two off from racing it, and it's just here or there, it's tough."

Regardless, Schatz is tough to beat in his late model wherever he goes. He won a WoO LMS heat race in Joliet earlier this week and was scheduled to start third in the feature before it was rained out.

He likes racing both the sprint car and late model. He doesn't have any plans to slow down, even though he was tired after double features Friday night at The Bullring.

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"When you get that way in this sport, you don't stop; you keep digging," said Schatz. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Donny Schatz, left, and Brad Seng chat before they raced their late models at River Cities Speedway on Friday night. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Donny Schatz, left, and Brad Seng chat before they raced their late models at River Cities Speedway on Friday night. photo by Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

Related Topics: WORLD OF OUTLAWS
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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