INDIANAPOLIS – As if the competition within the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series wasn’t tough enough, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz are also having to deal with the weather since the series made its way to the Midwest. Eleven different drivers have already claimed victory in the first 16 WoO events of 2013, and even Mother Nature has scored a pair. Both TSR drivers look to add to their win totals Friday when the Outlaws return to northwest Oklahoma for an event at the Salina Highbanks.
Schatz, Kinser and the rest of the Outlaws were scheduled to compete Saturday at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., but flooding near the track forced the event to be canceled.
Friday’s visit to the 3/8-mile, high-banked dirt oval will be only the second-ever stop at the facility for the Outlaws. Schatz nearly stole the show during the inaugural event back in May 2011. The five-time and reigning WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion started the 30-lap A-Feature 18th and raced his way up to second. If the race would have been 31 laps, he may have gotten the victory as he was right on eventual winner Craig Dollansky’s bumper at the finish. Kinser followed Schatz to the line after starting third and running inside the top-three throughout the event.
Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J, and Kinser, pilot of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, are two of the 11 winners in 2013 WoO competition. Schatz earned his first win of the season in early March at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway and won again two weeks ago in California at Kings Speedway in Hanford. Kinser, the 20-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion, picked up his first victory of the campaign April 16 at El Paso (Texas) Speedway. Both drivers are chasing Daryn Pittman and Tim Kaeding, each of whom has scored three wins this season.
Kinser is a 12-time winner in Oklahoma with the WoO STP Sprint Car Series. He scored his first win in the state at Lawton Speedway in 1982. Seven of the 12 victories came at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, and his most recent Oklahoma victory came in 2005 at Outlaw Speedway in Muskoegee. Schatz has one career WoO win in Oklahoma and that came at State Fair Speedway in 2003.
Through 16 of the scheduled 85 nights of racing, Pittman leads the championship standings. Schatz currently ranks fourth with 2,119 points with his two wins, five top-fives and 11 top-10s to date. The Fargo, N.D., racer trails by Pittman by 159 markers. Kinser is beginning to bounce back from a tough start. He currently ranks 11th with 1,962 points, but he is only 16 points out of ninth. “The King of the Outlaws” has one win, one top-five and five top-10s this season and three of those top-10s have come in the last four races.
Friday at the Salina Highbanks, the grandstands open at 5 p.m. CST. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. More information and ticket details are available at slspromotions.com or by calling 815-344-2023.
Race fans unable to attend Friday’s event 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:
It’s been a couple of seasons since you raced at the Salina Highbanks. What is it going to take to match your podium finish from that event?
“The main thing is we have to start the night by qualifying pretty well. In three of the last four races, we’ve been able to do that. Those were also the nights where we were able to finish inside the top-10. Hopefully, we can start the night out in Salina the same way. If I remember correctly, the track stayed pretty fast for most of the night. We were really leaning on the banking and just building up our momentum. I’d like to be back on the podium again, but maybe a couple spots higher. Winning in El Paso helped us. (Crew chief) Scott (Gerkin) and (crewman) Gary (DuBois) have been working hard this week tweaking a couple of things. We need to keep racing as much as we can and really get to the point where we are racing in the dash every night. To have a shot to win races, you have to start somewhere close to the front. We’ve been able to do that recently and, hopefully, we don’t lose any more races to the weather.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet Performance J&J:
Throughout your career, you’ve been a driver who could go to the front no matter where you started. Last weekend at Tri-State Speedway, you drove from 24th to 11th. Two years ago, you raced from 18th to second at Salina. What is the key to coming through the field?
“The key is not to start so far back. These races are hard to win from the back. When I first started racing, my dad always had me go to the back of the heats and try to drive my way forward. I was learning and, with him being a former racer, he knew what it was like to have a rookie driver in front of the heats. It helped me learn how to look a little ways in front of me and understand how to anticipate what might be happening the next time you get to a particular spot on the track. I know it helped me become a better driver. We’ve had some times over the years where we struggled to qualify and that just put you to the back of the field. Your only option is to work your way forward and find a line where everyone else isn’t. You can’t pass by following. That kind of was the case at Salina, if I remember correctly. Just about everybody was pounding the middle to the top of the track and I started moving around. We got the bottom to work and then could also move high if we needed to. It was a fun race. It was almost a really fun race, but we only had 30 laps. I’m looking forward to getting back there.”