Story By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Donny Schatz will be on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car tour for his 28th consecutive year in 2024, continuing to pilot the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15.
For Schatz, who grew up admiring the stars of the World of Outlaws, next year serves as a continuation of living out his childhood dream, while chasing an 11th title.
“Once you get that knowledge in the Sprint Car world, the premiere drivers were the Steve Kinsers and the Sammy Swindells and Doug Wolfgangs, the guys that ran the World of Outlaws,” Schatz said. “That was what my goal and my vision and dream was as a young child. So, getting into racing and doing all that you realize that under this World of Outlaws banner the man with the vision was Ted Johnson. I got the great fortune of meeting Ted.”
The 10-time Series champion finished sixth in the 2023 standings with four victories, including his sixth Kings Royal crown at Eldora Speedway, worth $175,000. Schatz bumped his career win total to 311 (third all-time), and he helped Tony Stewart up his total as an owner to 325 with the World of Outlaws. Schatz supplied 229 of those since joining forces with “Smoke” in 2008.
Despite some bright spots throughout the year, there were challenges that Schatz and his team strived to work through.
“We’ve had some challenges the last several years,” Schatz said. “Part of the engine development program has been real tough on all of us. And I’m not getting any younger, but I don’t feel like I’m getting any slower. Things have changed. This and that. It’s on all of us. It’s not just having performance lacking from engines. Ford has worked hard on getting us what we want. We’ve made some changes We had to change the person doing it halfway through some of this stuff.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Schatz is confident he and his team are close to returning to championship form.
“We have all these pieces to the puzzle that got scattered out across the table,” Schatz explained. “And now I feel like we have them all in the same spot where we can see the colors and align the corners… I know what I’m capable of. I know what my guys are capable of. I know what our equipment is capable of. We’ve got that stuff in a way better position than we were, and the guys feed off me. You’re going to see a different Donny Schatz in 2024. I need to lead my guys better. My focus has maybe been a little shifted for reasons outside of racing or this or that. I worked on it hard trying to make sure we got all of that right. You definitely will see better results.”
Schatz is as eager as ever to get 2024 rolling. His hunger is there. And his fire burns bright. The legendary figure has everything aligned to chase an 11th championship.
“When I wanted to win Rookie of the Year and did, I didn’t win a race that year,” Schatz said. “Then you want to win a race. Then you win a race. Once you achieve a goal, that doesn’t mean you feel complete. I wanted to win a championship. I won a championship. All it did was fuel the fire to want more. You want to do it again. I think the thing that’s hardest to portray to young guys, to fans, to whoever is just because you’ve won one championship doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it anymore. You don’t have less desire. You actually have more. I’ve won 10. I want to win 11.”
The 2024 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car season begins at Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL) on Feb. 7-10 for the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals.