Thursday, April 11, 2013
3:42:00 PM Donny Schatz , Kings Speedway , Perris Auto Speedway , Press Release , Sprint Cars , Steve Kinser , Tony Stewart Racing , World of Outlaws No comments
INDIANAPOLIS – There was a time when heading to California meant filling your pockets with as much gold as possible. It was just the kind of recipe to attract Outlaws from everywhere. Even though many years have passed and most of the gold has already been pocketed, there’s still money to be made, but it’s a lot tougher now. Just ask any competitor on the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series who has spent the last four weekends mixing it up at some of the toughest dirt tracks on the West Coast.
There has yet to be a repeat winner through six of the nine scheduled California WoO spring tour stops. Mother Nature has even claimed one event. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz would like to extend that number this weekend. Despite having combined to win 699 WoO A-Features in their illustrious careers, neither Kinser nor Schatz has come out victorious during this uear's swing. They’ll try to change that Friday when the Outlaws return to Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif., for the first time since 2011, followed by the SoCal Showdown at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway Saturday.
Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, has been the biggest winner in California during the series’ 35-year history by scoring more than 50 of his 574 career A-Feature wins in the state. The 20-time WoO champion is not only looking for his first win of the 2013 season, but also his first in California since winning at Antioch Speedway in September 2011. Qualifying woes have hindered his chances early this season, and his best finish of the campaign came in the Outlaws’ debut at Stockton 99 Dirt Track on March 22.
Schatz came to California in mid-March looking to duplicate the torrid run he made through California last fall. During a five-race stretch on consecutive nights last September, he raced the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J to a pair of wins, a pair of seconds and a fourth-place finish. It was easily the best California run he’s had since joining the series in 1997 and it led to him claiming his fifth WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship. The Fargo, N.D., racer got off to a good start at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare during the opening night of the swing March 15. Schatz led the first 14 laps of the 35-lap A-Feature before breaking a front axle. He bounced back the following week with a charge from 13th to third in Stockton and has earned a pair of top-10 finishes in the two most recent events.
Friday’s stop at Kings Speedway will be the 29th appearance by “The Greatest Show on Dirt” at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval. Two seasons ago, the series returned for the first time since 2003, but a rain shower that occurred just before the A-Feature was set to start washed out the race. Kinser leads the series with seven wins at the track, but recently the track has seen a number of different winners, including each of the last eight races. Schatz, who raced from 24th to ninth during his rookie season with the Outlaws, will be making his 11th start at the track and is in search of his 126th career WoO A-Feature victory.
The final stop on California soil this spring is slated for Saturday in Perris, where the Outlaws have staged 12 races since the racetrack opened in the fall of 1996. Last March, Kinser finished third in the 30-lap A-Feature to give him eight career top-fives. His best result was a second-place finish back in February 2002, the same race where Schatz charged from 12th to fourth to score his best finish at the half-mile, dirt oval.
Through 12 of the 85 races scheduled to decide the 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship, Schatz has one victory, three top-fives, eight top-10s and ranks fifth in the WoO championship standings. The five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has 1,558 points and is currently 155 markers behind leader Daryn Pittman. Kinser has a pair of top-10 finishes and has accumulated 1,416 points, which ranks him 12th.
Friday at Kings Speedway, the grandstands open at 5 p.m. PDT. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For Saturday’s race in Perris, the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 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:
This nine-race tour through California has been one of the longer runs through the state in quite some time. How does this spring tour compare to when the series would spend a good part of August and September racing in the state?
“The biggest thing is probably the weather. It’s early in the year when you are getting a lot of rain. That keeps the tracks really wet and when the surface is that wet, it stays awful fast and makes it really hard to move around and pass guys. When we were here to end the summer, there wasn’t much rain. The tracks were dry, and you would have to keep your car underneath you. It put a lot more on the driver and crew chief to come up with a combination that would allow you to drive the car a little more. So far, it’s been about getting a good spot in qualifying, laying down a good enough lap to start up front in your heat and getting into the dash. We haven’t been able to do that much out here at all. Maybe things will go a little better this weekend, and we can end on a positive.”
Last year marked your first time racing at Perris Auto Speedway in more than five years. Following a third-place finish last year, are you looking forward to returning there this weekend?
“Southern California is always a good place to be. We haven’t raced in the area much the past few years, but I can always remember hearing about Ascot Park (in Gardena, Calif.) when I was kid. I remember when I first got to race there and how neat of an experience that was. It wasn’t there long after that, so I was honestly excited when they built the track in Perris. We’ve had our share of decent runs there, but I don’t think I’ve won anything there, yet. I’m sure we’ll look at what we did there last year and see if maybe we can be in the hunt again. The guys on this Bad Boy Buggies car have really been working hard, so we could use something to build on as we head back to the Midwest. ”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
There have been 10 drivers who've won during the 12 events this season. If you had to provide a reason why so many drivers are winning, what would your answer be?
“I’d say there are a lot of variables, but the biggest thing is that, for the first part of the year, not too many people have been able to do a lot of passing for the lead. We won at Las Vegas from the front row and led the next night after starting up front, too. When we led in Tulare, we started on the front row. Unfortunately, we only have one win instead of possibly three or more, but right now things are pretty close for a lot the guys racing out here. The tracks have been really fast and that means it’s likely going to come down to track position. You have to qualify in the right spot and make your way into the dash. A lot of guys have been able to do that.”
This run through California hasn’t been what you and your STP team were shooting for. What would strong results this weekend do for you guys as the series heads back to the Midwest?
“You always enjoy racing for wins. That’s the mindset we have entering the weekend. Let’s work to get the car performing extremely well and then go see what we can do with it. Obviously, we have a team that has won championships and know it’s a long season. We just need to get better every night. We came out here last fall and really had things going well so, naturally, our goal this time was to be just as competitive. It hasn’t worked out that way so far but, if we can end this run out here on a good note, it’ll help.”