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RACING: Schatz still the one to beat

Donny Schatz climbed out of his sprint car at the Red River Valley Speedway earlier this week after picking up another checkered flag. He was tired. "It's getting tougher for me," said Schatz, the 34-year-old driver from Fargo. "I'm getting old."...

Donny Schatz
Donny Schatz (AP photo)

Donny Schatz climbed out of his sprint car at the Red River Valley Speedway earlier this week after picking up another checkered flag.

He was tired.

"It's getting tougher for me," said Schatz, the 34-year-old driver from Fargo. "I'm getting old."

But he's still fast -- lightning fast. And he's still the driver to beat tonight when the World of Outlaws roll into River Cities Speedway for the third time this season.

Schatz is on a big-time roll, having won last week's Knoxville Nationals -- the biggest sprint race of the season. It was the fifth time in six years Schatz has captured the sports biggest prize. His goal now is to overtake Jason Meyers to win another WoO season-points title.

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Entering tonight's competition, Schatz trails Meyers by 52 points.

And River Cities Speedway is a track Schatz knows well. He's raced at RCS a number of times in non-WoO shows and has captured two of the eight previous WoO features in Grand Forks.

Schatz won last week's Nationals -- a WoO-sanctioned race -- from the 13th starting position. Wednesday night at the RRVS, Schatz raced the same car to a dominating win in an All Star Circuit of Champions feature on the track he and his family operate.

"This was the same car that won the Knoxville Nationals," Schatz said. "The car has some karma."

A field of more than 30 sprints is expected for today's races, which originally were scheduled for the Nodak Speedway in Minot. But the city's flood earlier this summer forced the Outlaws to move the show.

The field will include three of the top six finishers in the Knoxville Nationals. In addition to Schatz, Sammy Swindell, who finished third, and local standout Mark Dobmeier, who finished sixth, will also race.

Tonight's winner of the 40-lap feature will receive $10,000.

Schatz, however, will face challenges from the usual suspects on the WoO circuit. And the high-banked, quarter-mile track at RCS doesn't give cars with the most horsepower a decided advantage.

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Drivers expected to be in the mix for tonight's win include:

- Craig Dollansky. The Elk River, Minn., driver won back-to-back WoO features at RCS in June. Overall, he has three of the eight previous WoO wins at RCS.

- Meyers. The California driver holds the RCS track record at 9.269 seconds (116.517 mph) but has not had the best of luck in Grand Forks. After setting the track record in 2009, he crashed during the feature on the lightning-fast track at RCS -- a wreck that basically cost him the season-points title.

- Steve Kinser, the 20-time WoO champion. The legendary driver from Indiana won at RCS last season. He and Schatz both drive for Tony Stewart Racing. Each has won five times this season.

- Brad Sweet. The Californian is filling in for Joey Saldana, who was injured last month in a crash at the Eldora Speedway in Ohio. Sweet's car, owned by NASCAR star Kasey Kahne, has been just as fast with Sweet behind the wheel. Sweet finished second to Schatz in West Fargo. The difference came down to experience. "Donny is on a roll right now," Sweet said.

Tonight's WoO event kicks off the circuit's Great Northern Tour. After tonight's show, the Outlaws race Saturday at Huset's Speedway near Sioux Falls, S.D. On Tuesday, the Outlaws race in Rapid City, S.D. The tour concludes with back-to-back shows Aug. 26-27 in Edmonton, Alta.

Tonight's races

Who: World of Outlaws.

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Where: River Cities Speedway, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $35 reserved ($33 in advance), general admission $35 ($30 in advance); children (6-12) $15.

Classes: WoO 410 sprints; late models.

Of note: Jason Meyers is the WoO season-points leader. Donny Schatz is second, 52 points behind Meyers.

WoO winners at RCS

2007: Joey Saldana.

2008: Donny Schatz.

2009: Schatz, Craig Dollansky.

2010: Steve Kinser, Saldana.

2011: Dollansky (2).

Track record: 9.269 seconds (116.517 mph), set by Jason Meyers, 2009.

Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

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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