TJ’s Prediction: Royal is Schatz’s to Lose…

Donny Schatz (Serena Dalhamer photo)
Donny Schatz looking over the race track with World of Outlaws officials. (T.J. Buffenbarger Photo)
Donny Schatz looking over the race track earlier this year at I-96 Speedway with World of Outlaws officials. (T.J. Buffenbarger Photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger


Wyoming, MI — (July 17, 2015) — Donny Schatz is having a season for the ages.  Not since the days of the prime of Steve Kinser and Doug Wolfgang has a driver rolled through the sprint car world like Schatz has this season.  Internationally Schatz has 26 victories this season with 20 of them coming in World of Outlaws competition.  To win nearly half of the races in what is the toughest sprint car series in the World is nothing short of remarkable.


Relative to his success at Knoxville Eldora Speedway has not always been Schatz’s best piece of dirt to compete on.  Schatz did not score at Kings Royal victory until 2007 and scored a second in 2009.  That win in 09 was Schatz’s last Eldora victory until May of this year when he swept the weekend.   During that weekend and Ohio Sprint Speedweek Eldora has raced differently this year with the middle and bottom very strong during the feature.  That played right into Schatz’s wheelhouse in May.


There are a few things that can help level the playing field for everyone else in the field this weekend. The NRA Sprint Invaders are on the program as well.  With a second class of sprint cars on track this weekend there could be some more wear and tear on the bottom and middle of the race track.   Typically though the NRA races over the past couple of seasons have been wore more often than not on the fence rather than the middle or bottom lanes.   More laps though on the track by sprint cars should change the completion of how the track races throughout the two days of racing.


Eldora’s big race format also throws something different at the race teams.  If someone does not have a good heat race they could end up having to work their way up from the back of the field.  With 40 laps and double file restarts the chances of doing so have increased in recent years.


The x-factor of all could be Mother Nature.  If we see a rain delay and the track locks down it should widen out throughout the 40-laps, but could reduce the amount of time to make a move.  Sometimes rain has the opposite effect on Eldora if the track moves up where its fast and up on the fence, which falls into the wheelhouse of a select few that can run the Eldora fence tenaciously.


If the track races in the same manner it has in May and June Schatz will likely collect his third throne.  If the track goes up to the fence as the fastest line I’m thinking someone like defending race winner Kerry Madsen, Brad Sweet, or Joey Saldana could sit on the throne again.


Schatz is the favorite going in, but the Kings Royal is a single day of racing.  If a team and driver hits it right on one day they could find themselves $50,000 richer on Saturday.