Tight Confines of Merced Speedway Next Up for Kraig Kinser on West Coast Swing

Bloomington, Ind.— As far as tracks go on the World of Outlaws STP Spring Car Series circuit, they don’t get much smaller than Merced Speedway in California. After the series made its debut at the track in 2011, which at the time was a quarter-mile, the series returned last year to a reconfigured third-mile, which still poses some very tight surroundings. Kraig Kinser has raced on and adapted to many small tracks over the years, especially when he was cutting his teeth early in his career in the Indiana/Ohio area, at venues that tend to lead drivers to really “sit up” in the seat.

Kinser will take to the track in the Casey’s General Store/Mesilla Valley Transportation Maxim for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series event at Merced Speedway on Friday, March 29, with a full racing program on-tap, culminating with a 40-lap, $10,000 to-win feature.

“We had a pretty good run last year at Merced and hopefully can use some of what we learned at Chico (Silver Dollar Speedway) last weekend,” said Kinser. “Last year, they made Merced a little bigger than when we first visited there in 2011, but it’s still a pretty small track. You have to always be on your toes, because things happen in a hurry there.”

Kinser finished fourth at Merced Speedway last season in his second start at the track, and his first since it was reconfigured from a quarter-mile to a third-mile. The third-generation driver began the night by setting a new track record in time trials to best the 29 qualifiers, with a lap of 10.878-seconds. Kinser was the only driver in the 10-second bracket. He finished third in the first heat race to earn a spot in the dash, where he came home third, which put him on the inside of the second row for the 40-lap main event.

In the 40-lap A-Feature, Kinser ran third for most of the race, before slipping back to fourth on the 28th circuit. He would remain fourth for the remainder of the distance, which saw single file restarts used on each of the four cautions due to track conditions.

“Qualifying definitely sets the tone for your night and last year we set quick time at Merced,” he noted. “Track position has been pretty important at Merced in each of the two times we’ve been there, so getting into the dash and starting toward the front in the main event will be a key. We qualified pretty well at Chico last weekend, so hopefully we can carry that into Merced.”

Kinser has made four starts in California this year during the early season World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series West Coast swing. He finished ninth in the finale of the two-night event at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare on March 16 and came home eighth on March 23 in the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico.

The native of Bloomington, Ind., enters this weekend’s race ninth in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series standings on the strength of five top-10 finishes. He finished a season-best third on the second night of the season at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals.

“We’ve had three races on smaller tracks in California, so that’s helping us learn the tires on short tracks,” Kinser stated. “With just one race this week, you want to stay as focused as you can be during the week and try to roll off the truck close to where you need to be in hot laps. Merced is a quick little place and typically we seem to do pretty well at tracks like that.”

Kraig Kinser By the Numbers: Merced Speedway
0.33- Miles around Merced Speedway
2- Career starts at Merced Speedway
3- Tracks in California visited to-date in 2013
4- Starts in the state of California this season
5- Top-10 finishes in the first 10 races of the year
10- Starts in 2013 with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series
10.878- Track record established in time trials last season at the third-mile
11.5- Average finish in two career main event starts at Merced Speedway
82.736- Track record in miles per hour set last year in qualifying
206- Miles from Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., where the World of Outlaws competed on March 23 to Merced Speedway in Merced, Calif.
1248- Points earned through March 23
2011- Year of first start at Merced Speedway
14,875- Dollars earned through March 23
Tight Confines of Merced Speedway Next Up for Kraig Kinser on West Coast Swing Tight Confines of Merced Speedway Next Up for Kraig Kinser on West Coast Swing Reviewed by Dirt Racing News on Thursday, March 28, 2013 Rating: 5