INDIANAPOLIS (March 13, 2013) – One of the best things about the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series schedule is there’s always another chance to race coming up soon. With a schedule that includes more than 85 nights of action, it’s easy to see why drivers and teams who are part of “The Greatest Show on Dirt” love the opportunity to compete. With a half-dozen events in the books, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser are geared up for five consecutive weekends in the Golden State beginning Friday and Saturday at the always-entertaining Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif.
The first six races of 2013 have been contested on semi-banked, dirt ovals where speed has been maximized. Eight of the nine upcoming races are on smaller tracks, including this weekend’s venture to the 1/3-mile dirt oval in Central California, so a driver will need to be able to successfully maneuver through lapped traffic in order to come out victorious.
Thunderbowl Raceway has hosted 14 nights of WoO competition over the last 10 years with 10 different drivers emerging victorious. Kinser, who won the Outlaws’ first-ever race at the facility in September 2003, will be looking to pick his 575th career WoO A-Feature triumph and first in 2013 behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim. Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, was the winner in the Outlaws’ seventh-ever stop at the track in October 2007.
Schatz, the five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion, earned his 125th career WoO A-Feature triumph in Las Vegas last Wednesday before closing the week with a pair of sixth-place finishes Thursday in Las Vegas and Saturday in Tucson, Ariz. The Fargo, N.D., racer is excited about returning to California after posting seven top-six finishes in eight 2012 starts on California dirt ovals. He was victorious in March in Chico and used a five-race run in September, which included two wins, two runner-ups and a fourth, to seize control of the championship standings. In his 14 WoO starts at Tulare, Schatz has six top-five finishes and nine top-10s and also claimed a preliminary feature win in October 2005. Last season, he started fifth and finished sixth in the 35-lap A-Feature, a result that pushed him into the top spot of the WoO championship standings.
California has been good to Kinser throughout his WoO career. His ninth career WoO A-Feature triumph, and first in California, came in September 1978 at West Capitol Speedway just outside Sacramento. Kinser’s 2003 victory in Tulare was the 491st A-Feature of his career and the 20-time WoO champion has won a total of 52 WoO A-Features on Californian soil. “The King of the Outlaws” has 12 top-10 finishes in 14 WoO starts at Tulare and also won a pair of National Sprint Tour races at the facility in February 2006. Last March, Kinser led the first five laps of the 35-lap main event and was running second before contact with a lapped car dropped him to 12th. He charged forward to finish seventh and earn his eighth top-10 in his last nine starts there.
Through six 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series events, Schatz has a victory, three top-fives and four top-10s and ranks third in the WoO championship standings. Schatz has 808 points and is currently 48 markers behind leader Daryn Pittman. Kinser has one top-10 finish and has accumulated 706 points, which ranks him 13th.
For both events this weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway, the pit gates will be open throughout the day while the grandstands open at 4 p.m. PDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.thunderbowlraceway.com or call 559-688-0909.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim:
After staring the season with five nights of action on half-miles, the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series heads to California and several “bullrings.” Are you looking forward to returning to the short tracks?
“I’ve always been a guy who favors the big tracks, but I’ll admit I’m looking forward seeing what we can do in California. We’ve been off in qualifying just a bit to start the season. After Tucson, we spent some time testing and are hopeful some of the things that worked for us testing can help us this week.”
Last March at Tulare, you led the first five laps of the A-Feature and were in contention for the lead until you made contact with a lapped car. How important is dealing with lapped traffic on the short tracks in California?
“You have to be able to catch the lapped cars just right, that’s for sure. We were out front early in the race last year and Tim (Kaeding) was able to not only get us in traffic, but then manage his way through the field the rest of the way. The races out West can be almost like whoever can survive the lapped traffic best ends up winning. You have to anticipate where guys are going to go and figure out the best time to make your move on them. Traffic can be an equalizer and, right now, we could use a few things to go our way.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
Last week in Las Vegas, you were able to win your first WoO A-Feature of 2013 and came back the following night and took the lead before losing air in your left-front tire. Did your STP team find something in Las Vegas?
“We’ve been fast just about every time out this year. Wednesday’s win in Las Vegas was our first Outlaw win of the year, and I always say the first one is the toughest one to get. The fact is we won two All-Star races in Ocala (Fla.) before the Outlaw season and, after Wednesday, we had won three of our first six races. Luck just wasn’t on our side Thursday night in the feature. I think a rock cut the tire, but we were rolling well before it went down. The STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, and Jim Oare) have been doing a great job. We just need to keep after it. We’ve had a couple of little things not go our way, but we know it’s a long season. We’re going to be fine as long as we keep working at it every night.”
Your five-race run through California last September went a long way toward you claiming your fifth WoO championship. With nine races coming up in California, how important is it for you to have another strong showing in the Golden State?
“We had a great run through California last fall, probably the best I’ve ever had. The STP car was operating phenomenally and we were able to not only win races, but were in contention every night. If we could have a similar run over the next five weekends, obviously we’d be thrilled. The good news is we’re going to be running at some of the same places. Hopefully, what worked last fall will give us a good starting point. It’s a long season, but if we can get some wins here in the next few weeks, that would be big for us. We’re a team that focuses on winning, and that’s our goal every time we race.”