INDIANAPOLIS (March 20, 2013) – Just as a number of college basketball teams are hoping to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow over the next three weeks of NCAA March Madness play, the best Winged Sprint car drivers are seeking gold this weekend with a pair of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series events in The Golden State of California. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser look to rebound from a tough weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., by christening Stockton 99 Dirt Track Friday and returning to Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico for the annual Mini Gold Cup Saturday.
Friday’s inaugural appearance by “The Greatest Show on Dirt” at Stockton 99 Dirt Track will be the first of three races at new facilities this season. Both TSR drivers have been maiden winners at several facilities throughout their careers, including each in the past two seasons. In September 2011, Kinser raced to victory at Antioch (Calif.) Speedway, leading the final five laps to become the track’s first Outlaw winner. Last season, Schatz dominated the Outlaws’ first visit to Cornwall (Ontario) Motor Speedway, leading all 30 laps of the A-Feature. That win started his monumental run to a fifth WoO STP Sprint Cars Series title.
Schatz will return to Silver Dollar Speedway Saturday as the defending Mini Gold Cup champion. The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J led all 35 laps of last year’s Mini Gold Cup and made it consecutive wins at the semi-banked, quarter-mile dirt oval when he was triumphant in the opening night of last fall’s 59th annual Gold Cup Race of Champions. The Fargo, N.D., racer followed those victories with fourth- and second-place finishes, giving him five top-five finishes in his last seven starts at the track.
Kinser is looking to kickstart his 2013 campaign behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, and a trip to Silver Dollar Speedway may be just the right recipe. The 20-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has 22 career WoO wins (13 A-Feature and nine preliminary) at the track, including the 1992 Mini Gold Cup. He’s earned 43 top-five finishes in 74 career starts in Chico and came home fifth in last year’s Mini Gold Cup.
Both drivers are looking forward to getting back into action Friday following a pair of difficult nights in Tulare. Schatz had a broken front axle end his shot at victory Friday and managed to advance from 20th to 13th on a rubber-down surface Saturday. Kinser got off to an inauspicious start to the weekend when he got upside down in qualifying Friday. It was the first of three trips to the work area during the two nights of action for “The King of the Outlaws.”
Through eight 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series events, Schatz has a victory, three top-five finishes and four top-10s and ranks fifth in the WoO championship standings. Schatz has 1,036 points and is currently 111 markers behind leader Daryn Pittman. Kinser has one top-10 finish and has accumulated 928 points, which ranks him 12th.
Friday at Stockton 99 Dirt Track, the grandstands open at 1 p.m. PDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For Saturday’s Mini Gold Cup, the grandstands open at 1 p.m. PDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. More information and ticket details for both events are available at WorldofOutlaws.com/tickets or by calling 877-395-8606.
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 the way things went last weekend in Tulare, it’s nice to be able to get to a new track and start over. What are your thoughts heading into the weekend?
“It was just one of those rough weekends, I guess. For all of us. Donny (Schatz) had some bad luck. Tony (Stewart) had some bad luck at Bristol. I guess the only good thing from last weekend was my Indiana Hoosiers (men’s basketball team) got a number-one seed. Hopefully, they have a good run in the tournament. They have a great bunch of guys on this year’s team and, if they work together, I think they have a great chance at winning the whole thing. I know my team’s sticking together and we’re going to find a way to get back to racing better. The start of the season hasn’t gone the way we hoped, but we know all we can do is continue to work hard.”
This weekend, you’ll be racing at a brand new facility (Stockton 99 Dirt Track) and one where you’ve been to just about every year of your career (Silver Dollar Speedway). What’s the game plan for the weekend?
“It’s always nice to race at a new facility. And, it sounds like they’re expecting a big crowd at Stockton. We always enjoy racing in front of new fans. The challenge is to learn as much about the track’s charactheristics as quickly as you can. You have to pay to attention to how it changes. We’ll all be in the same situation without having been there before so, hopefully, our experience will help us. As far as heading back to Chico goes, Silver Dollar has always been a good place. We’ve had some great nights there. It’s a bullring where you are in and out of traffic all night. It’s been way too long since we’ve won there and I’d sure like to have a shot at winning Saturday.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
The weekend starts with your first race at Stockton 99 Dirt Track. Do you do anything out of your regular routine when you race a track for the first time?
“There really isn’t anything much different. You may pay a little closer attention to how the track is changing throughout the night. Watch how it comes in for hot laps and see if it changes during qualifying. The heats are usually a pretty good indicator of what it’s going to do. I’m sure most of the guys will be checking out the track quite a bit. In the end, you’ve got to do what you know. We’ll talk as a team and come up with a game plan each time we hit the track and see if we can put ourselves in position to be a factor at the end of the night.”
Last season, your results at Silver Dollar Speedway were some of the best of your career. Will you and your STP team prepare for Saturday’s Mini Gold Cup the same way you did last year?
“We prepare for every race the same. The STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, Jim Oare) work hard to give me a good car every time I hit the track. Last year, we had some good runs in Chico. Winning in March was kind of like last week’s race where you wanted to start up front because of how abrasive the track was, but in the fall it was classic Chico where you could race all over. Those three finishes inside the top-four at last year’s Gold Cup went a long way toward us earning the championship. We’ve got a basic setup for racing at Chico. After seeing what the track is doing, we’ll adjust from there. It’s a fun place to race when your car is right. Our car’s been right quite a bit this year, so we’re optimistic.”