Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevy J&J:
With the way you ended last year’s World of Outlaws campaign, would you have liked the 2012 season to start right away?
“We finished the season off pretty strong and really started to get that feeling back. Any time you are winning, you want to keep racing. Last year, we had some struggles and fortunately found our way toward the end of the year. The crew needed some time to get our program where we need it to be. I was happy to be able to stay active and race both in New Zealand and Australia. I spent some time at the raceshop recently and I can tell you Ricky, Steve and Bob worked hard this winter. I’m excited to get things going.”
You mentioned your team. How important is it that you have all the same people working together for the second year in a row?
“It’s really big when you are in a competitive environment like we are. At the end of last year, we were all getting along great and having an absolute blast. Even though we struggled at times during the year, we just had to keep working together. You can’t have success without failure. If you don’t learn what not to do, you don’t know what to do. The team that Tony has assembled, we’re all competitive people. We pushed each other to the limit and maybe even over the limit. The same mentally that got us in trouble is what brought us back to the winning stages and having a dominant racecar. I know how hard they work and it motivates me to be the best I can in the car and win races for those guys.”
The journey to a championship starts at Volusia again. You’ve had some really good starts and ones that you’d like to forget. What are your thoughts on the weekend ahead?
“It’s exciting. There’s definitely a buzz when you get to Florida to start the year. The proximity to Daytona helps that. It’s also the first race of the year and everyone wants to get started on the right note. We know it’ll be a very intense week. As far as the track goes, it’s big and fast, so you have to keep as much speed up as possible. Track conditions can be so different from day to day, and that’s where having a great team is such an advantage. My guys do a great job of giving me a comfortable car to drive. It’s pretty tough to win one race down there, so we’re going to do everything we can to get that first win of year.”