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500: Donny Schatz Reaches Massive Milestone with Volusia Victory

At one point in time Donny Schatz was a North Dakota kid in the stands watching races as Sprint Car dreams bloomed within his mind. Now, he’s a 500-time Sprint Car Feature winner.

He fought through early struggles that every driver combats. He began to collect some checkered flags in the 1990s. He ascended to the highest level of the sport with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and eventually became the most dominant force with the Series for a stretch. Wins on the sport’s biggest stages at the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal, National Open piled up along with so many more. And on Monday at Volusia Speedway Park, he made his 500th trip to Victory Lane and 312th with the World of Outlaws.

The 10-time Series champion lined up fourth on the grid, got a strong start, and was at the right place at the right time when misfortune struck a leading Michael Kofoid. A shredded tire gifted Schatz the lead, and he never looked back on his way to win number 500.

Volusia has been a helpful racetrack for Schatz on his path to 500. Monday’s Bike Week Jamboree marked his 24th overall Sprint Car victory at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile.” The driver of the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15 has earned 15 of those with The Greatest Show on Dirt. Volusia is the fourth winningest track on Schatz’s World of Outlaws résumé, trailing only Williams Grove Speedway, Knoxville Raceway, and Eldora Speedway.

But even with the enormous magnitude of the achievement, it was business as usual for Schatz when the race concluded. He’s not focused on any milestones. He’s focused on getting the next win and the many more that will surely follow.

“I really don’t want to think about it,” Schatz said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of years left in me. I’ve got a lot of good racing left in me because I still love to race. That’s the important part. Numbers are numbers. That’s the stuff that I’m probably going to roll over to Steve Kinser’s bus someday when we’re sitting here at Volusia watching our kids or our kids’ kids and we’ll have talks about it. But for now, it’s just a number you don’t even want to think about. I’ve been very fortunate to race with a lot of great people and have great partners behind us.”

The front row consisting of Sheldon Haudenschild and Buddy Kofoid brought the field to green for the 25-lapper. The outside line proved to be the place to be as Kofoid blasted by Haudenschild for the lead while Schatz ripped ahead of both Giovanni Scelzi and Haudenschild to take second from the fourth starting spot.

As the opening laps clicked away Kofoid set a torrid pace in the Roth Motorsports #83. He remained glued to the high side and on rails. Behind him, Schatz tested different lines as he’s known to do and didn’t let Kofoid build too much of an advantage.

When the lead duo entered traffic, Kofoid managed to extend his lead at first as the gap grew to just over a second on Lap 9. But Schatz began to regain his footing and cut away at the margin as the race neared the halfway mark. Only two laps later, he had sliced Kofoid’s one second advantage in half.

Right when it looked as if a battle may be brewing between the rising star and the living legend, heartbreak hit Kofoid. The left-rear tire on his machine let go entering Turn 1, sending him spinning and backing into the fence. Adding salt to the wound, the incident occurred a lap after the halfway point meaning no guaranteed time in the Federated Car Care Work Zone. His team wasn’t able to make repairs in time for the restart, leaving him trapped in the Work Zone as the field came back to green.

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