Another fantastic year of auto racing is drawing to a close and now we’re at that special time of year when everyone’s hard work is duly recognized at various award ceremonies and events. This year is no different, and already the AARWBA All-American Auto Racing Team nominees have been announced.
So far it seems that top rivals Donny Schatz and Jason Meyers have been lumped together for the ‘Short Track’ category of the AARWBA All-American Auto Racing Team. Those who have been watching the two during the course of the year will find it somewhat odd that two rivals have now been made into teammates. Donny Schatz is not exactly a newcomer to the scene. This was the third consecutive time he’d won the World of Outlaws title and also the third consecutive year that he has been given First Team honors. Schatz competed ardently during the course of the year, winning 18 A-feature events and finishing the season with as many as 25 wins. He won as many as sixteen of the various World of Outlaws races and has also taken the Knoxville Nationals for the third season in a row. He is now one of only two drivers to accomplish that feat and he is eligible for the Jerry Titus Award, which is generally given to the ‘Driver of the Year’. After such a strong racing career he is understandably the perfect candidate.
Jason Meyers doesn’t quite have the same list of accomplishments under his belt, but he certainly isn’t doing too badly for himself. This is only the first time that Meyers has been named to the team and he was given Second Team honors after finishing second in the championship standings. He managed to win as many as nine of the World of Outlaws races this season and had 48 top-five finishes. He also had the quickest time trials at sixteen different races and managed to lead the series championship standings for a while near the beginning of the season. He has progressively improved his performance and stats over the year, finishing off by winning the first-ever ‘Breaking the VAULT’ challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. In doing so, he also defeated nine other drivers including top rival Donny Schatz. Understandably both drivers are ecstatic about being named to the team.
Donny Schatz has been racing since he was only a kid. His dream of becoming an auto racing champion started when he was just fifteen years old and he has never looked back. During the past ten years of his life he has been racing almost 100 nights a year on two different continents – a clear indication of just how dedicated he is.
So it comes as little surprise then that Donny Schatz was chosen to receive the prestigious Dakota Award for 2008. The award, which is handed out by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, gives due recognition to any person from North Dakota who is excelling in other states. Schatz has long been proving himself in the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series and it seems he is driven to succeed. Schatz remarked that receiving the award was a “great honor” and said he was happy that he could represent his home state on a national level. He added: “Like a lot of things that happened as a result of our efforts last year, this award is truly a family awardâ€¦We worked together as a family to build a race team that could compete with the best in the world and ultimately came away with consecutive World of Outlaws championships.”
The last time that Schatz received the Dakota Award was in 1998. He was chosen for the honor after a successful WoO Sprint Series Rookie of the Year campaign. It’s been ten challenging years since then and a lot has changed. He is certainly no longer a rookie and these days he’s winning back-to-back championships. Just last year he made history when he became the first driver to win the Knoxville Nationals, Williams Grove National Open, Kings Royal, Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup and the Williams Grove Summer Nationals all in the same year. That was the second time in a row that he took the checkered flag at the Outlaw championship, the Knoxville Nationals and the Silver Cup. Schatz was invited to drive for Tony Stewart in the WoO Sprint Series this year and he has been hard at work wracking up points in his new car already, with 10 victories in place after driving 27 races so far this year. Clearly this 30-year-old still has a long and successful driving career ahead of him and we may yet see another Dakota Award go to Donny Schatz in the future.