BURNS: Around The Track

Donny Schatz has been strong all season, but he's ramped it up in the past two weeks.
Donny Schatz has been strong all season, but he’s ramped it up in the past two weeks.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – What’s it going to take to slow down Donny Schatz on a consistent basis?

The Tony Stewart Racing driver leads the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series point standings, he’s got a series-best eight wins and he’s fast everywhere.

Who’s got an answer for the No. 15 STP car, and when could this hot streak come to an end?

Other drivers want to know. So do many who watch the races.

Schatz, one of the winningest drivers in World of Outlaws history, was in third in points just a little more than a month ago. He was highly competitive, but had trouble distancing himself from defending champion Daryn Pittman or perennial contender Joey Saldana.

My, how times have changed.

Schatz’ latest triumph, on Sunday at Wisconsin’s Cedar Lake Speedway, was one of his most impressive. It was also his fifth victory in his past 12 races. He was third in qualifying, second in his heat, and second in the dash.

Schatz, however, was in the lead when he needed to be.

He’s had tough competition this year, primarily from Pittman – who has seven wins, including four in a row in May – as well as Saldana and Paul McMahan, but Schatz knows better than anyone, save Steve Kinser, what it takes to be an Outlaw champion.

It’s why he has five titles.

You’ve got to be fast on every type of track, qualify well, and never hit a dry spell down the stretch. Schatz has the biggest point lead – 93 points as of July 1 – of any driver this season. A good budget, courtesy of Stewart’s operation, doesn’t hurt his title hopes. Nor does having one of the best crews in the business at his disposal. He’s got plenty of talent, too.

Other drivers can’t seem to replicate his pace with regularity. Could we see another Schatz championship when the season wraps up in November?

It’s beginning to look that way, but there’s still time for someone else to emerge.

Easier said than done.