INDIANAPOLIS – The traveling odyssey from dirt track to dirt track continues this weekend for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series as the spring California tour marches on. For the fourth consecutive weekend, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser will chase victory in the Golden State racing Friday at Antioch (Calif.) Speedway and Saturday at Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway. Five different drivers have won the first five races of the California tour and both Schatz and Kinser are vying to join the list.
The race Friday will be the Outlaws’ third-ever event at the 3/8-mile, high-banked dirt oval in Antioch. The first two have been thrillers, with the outcome in doubt until the end each time. Kinser, who pilots the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, won the WoO STP Sprint Car Series debut at the track in September 2011, leading the final five laps and holding off a hard-charging Kyle Larson. Last September, Schatz raced the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J into the lead during a late restart but came up just a few feet short of victory and finished second.
Saturday’s stop at scenic Calistoga Speedway will be the 25th race at the half-mile oval over the past 28 years. Kinser leads the series with five wins during that span. Schatz has won twice in the last seven races at Calistoga, including last September when he led all 25 laps en route to the victory. The win was his second in a five-race swing last fall that allowed him to seize control of the WoO championship standings. The Fargo, N.D., racer would go on to claim his fifth series title in the last seven seasons.
Both drivers are looking to pick up some positive momentum during this weekend’s doubleheader. Schatz opened the nine-race California tour by leading the first 14 laps of the 35-lap A-Feature at Thunderbowl Raceway before a broken front axle ended his night. His charge from 13th to third at Stockton 99 Dirt Track has been the highlight of the tour so far. Kinser’s eighth-place finish at Stockton has been his best result to date during the 2013 campaign. The California tour concludes next weekend with races at Kings Speedway in Hanford Friday and the SoCal Showdown Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway.
With 11 races of the 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series 85-race schedule complete, Schatz has a victory, three top-fives and seven top-10s and ranks fifth in the WoO championship standings. The five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has 1,424 points and is currently 154 markers behind leader Daryn Pittman. Kinser has a pair of top-10 finishes and has accumulated 1,304 points, which ranks him 12th.
Friday at Antioch, the grandstands open at 1 p.m. PDT. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For Saturday’s race at Calistoga, the grandstands open at 1 p.m. Qualifying is 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 STP Sprint Car 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 live results from the track.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim:
You head to Antioch as one of only two WoO winners at the facility. Is there anything you can take from your win that can help you Friday?
“It’s always good to show up to a track where you’ve had some success. We had a really good car that night and just kept plugging away and ended up winning the race. Last year, we missed it a little in qualifying but were able to race forward (from 17th to ninth). It’s a pretty exciting track. You have to be able to move around and get your car working all over the track. It’s going to come down to qualifying and putting yourself in a spot to make the dash. We aren’t seeing guys from 11th or further back winning races this year, so you have to be in top-10 spots if you want to have a chance to win. We qualified second overall the night we won and that really helped. Hopefully, we can start Friday the same way.”
Calistoga Speedway will give you a chance to be back on a half-mile for the first time since Las Vegas. Are you looking forward to competing on a bigger track?
“I’ve always said these Sprint cars are best on the bigger tracks because you can really use all the horsepower. If we get on a bigger track and it opens up a little bit, we can really push these cars. If the track slicks off and slows down a little, it puts the racing back into the driver’s
hands. That’s when you usually see good racing. When the track stays locked down fast, it’s hard for anybody outside of the top couple of rows to do much. These cars are so equal now and if everybody can just ride around wide open, the racing isn’t that great. We’ve always enjoyed Calistoga and have had some great times there in Wine Country over the years when we used to be there for three days during Labor Day weekend. I’m looking forward to it. ”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
The California tour continues with another short track on Friday night. How does Antioch compare to some of the other California tracks?
“It’s a neat little track with some good banking in the corners and short straightaways. The surface is pretty similar where it’s pretty wet early in the night. We’ve been there twice and had two completely opposite results. The first year, we were one of the first cars to go out and qualify and the track kept getting better and better. That pretty much put us behind the eight ball for the rest of the night and we never really got going that great. Last year, we qualified in the perfect spot (seventh), won our heat, won the dash and had a shot to win on the last lap. Our goal is to have the same kind of night Friday. We haven’t had the results we’ve wanted so far on this tour, but we still have a chance to end it with some successful nights.”
The weekend concludes with a race at Calistoga Speedway and your first opportunity in almost a month on a bigger track. How different is racing on the bigger tracks?
“It’s still about getting your car to perform as best as possible. The bigger tracks just allow for you to use more speed. At the smaller tracks, you are in traffic pretty quickly and so much of the racing is on and off the throttle. On the bigger tracks, you can work on getting your car right and if the track surface slows down a little bit, you can actually set guys up to do some passing. We’ve had a really good package for the bigger tracks and Calistoga has been a favorite of mine. We’re all working hard to try and get the results we expect. If you look at how most of the races have gone here in California, it seems like it all goes back to how you qualify. If you can qualify inside the inversion, your chances of starting up front for the feature are pretty good. We had a really good run of qualifying last fall when we made our move in the championship standings. We qualified well, put ourselves in position to win and finished on the podium quite a few times. That’s the same formula for success right now. We need to qualify well at both the smaller tracks and the bigger ones. This weekend, we’ll have a chance to do both.”