INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After a gunslinging weekend of action in Dodge City, the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series competitors have reloaded and are ready to continue their crusade through middle America. First, it’s a Wednesday-night stop in central Missouri for round three of the Showdown for the Bud Crown at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, followed by a weekend doubleheader at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D.
Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz are eager to return to the fray with each having prior success at this week’s venues. Kinser, who will pilot the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, is a five-time winner at State Fair Speedway, while Schatz, the driver the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J, has three career wins at River Cities Speedway.
Kinser, “The King of the Outlaws,” made his debut at State Fair Speedway in July 1978 during the Outlaws’ inaugural campaign. He finished fourth in both races at the track that summer. His next appearance came with the Outlaws in 1982, and that night he finished second. Kinser captured an unsanctioned feature win at the half-mile dirt oval in June 1983 before scoring his first WoO A-Feature triumph at the track in July 2000. Kinser recorded three more victories at State Fair since that win, his most recent coming in June 2007. In all, he has 25 career starts at the track and remarkably has finished in the top-10 23 times.
Schatz officially raced a Sprint car for the first time at State Fair Speedway in 1993. He qualified for his first WoO A-Feature at the track in April 2007 and has a total of 16 WoO A-Feature starts at half-mile facility. His first A-Feature triumph came in July 2003, and his last two races there culminated in a runner-up finish to Kinser in June 2007 and a victory in June 2008.
Those recent results are similar to the numbers the four-time and reigning WoO champion has put up at River Cities Speedway. In his last four starts at the high-banked 3/10-mile track, Schatz has a pair of WoO wins, a third- and a fourth-place finish. He first competed at the track in June 1995, and his first victory at River Cities came one month later. In 2004, he picked up a weekly show victory before making his return to the track with the Outlaws in June 2007. He collected WoO victories at the track in June 2008 and June 2009 and finished fourth last August in his most recent visit.
Kinser has raced in Grand Forks six times, first circling the track in July 2006 when it hosted a two-night National Sprint Tour show. He finished third in his debut and is still trying to better that performance. Last August, he scored a fifth–place finish.
Following last weekend’s Boot Hill Showdown, Kinser remains in third place in the 2010 WoO championship standings, trailing leader Joey Saldana by 48 points. He has won a pair of races, finished in the top-five 16 times and has a series-leading 23 top-10 finishes. Schatz ranks fifth in the standings, 200 points back of Saldana. He also has won twice this season and has 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.
Wednesday at State Fair Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For more details and ticket information, visit www.missouristatefairspeedway.com.
On Friday and Saturday at River Cities Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact River Cities Speedway at (218) 773-3002. The official Web site of River Cities Speedway is www.rivercitiesspeedway.com.
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/Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/J.D. Byrider Maxim:
The season has been a consistent one so far for you and the Bass Pro Shops team. You have the most top-10s of any driver and are still within striking distance of the point leader. What is it going to take for you to close the gap on the leader?
“I’m really happy about how things have started. We’ve been really competitive, but just not quite as fast as that No. 9 car has been. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a way to get just a little faster. If we can continue to be right up there every night, that is going to help, but we need to be fast enough to be racing for wins. The guys in front of us have a few more victories than we do. It’d be nice to get even with them in the win department within the next few weeks.
“We’ve got a long way to go. Right now, it’s important for everyone on the Bass Pro Shops team (crew chief Scott Gerkin, crewmen Gary DuBois and Travis LoGrande) to keep plugging away. We’re close, and if we keep after it, hopefully we’ll close the gap.”
The schedule ahead includes stops in Sedalia and Grand Forks. You first raced at State Fair Speedway in 1978 and made a number of laps there over the years. On the other hand, you’ve only raced at River Cities Speedway on five occasions. What’s the biggest difference between racing at a track where you’ve made a lot of laps versus one where you’ve made only a few?
“I’d say the biggest thing is that turning more laps usually means you have a better idea of what might happen in more situations. What the track characteristics are and how they might change. We’ve raced at Sedalia a number of years and have been there in the spring, early summer and late summer. We know it’s a big, fast half-mile. Sometimes it gets hard on tires. Sometimes you have to hug the bottom and other times you have to rip the top. Experience plays a big role in keeping up with the changes throughout the night. We work pretty hard as a team to stay on top of the changes.
“At places like Grand Forks, where we’ve only been a few times, we just try to keep in mind what the track has done in the past. Even though we’ve only been there five times, I think the track has been pretty consistent. The last time we were there, it rained and the track was super wet, so that was the exception. It’s a pretty demanding place. Traffic is a big factor. Getting your car to work on multiple lines is pretty important. Don Mack and the folks up there do a great job and the fans really enjoy the races.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
The week of racing starts with a return to State Fair Speedway. The track has some special memories for you. What are some of the things you remember most about racing in Sedalia?
“I’ll always remember pulling into the gates there for the first time. It was my first Sprint car race and we pitted next to Danny Young. I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but I know we were all pretty excited. Quite a few years later (in 2003) we came to Sedalia in the midst of a pretty good season. The track is pretty close to Danny Lasoski’s hometown, so it’s kind of his home track. A few weeks earlier, he beat us in the feature in Fargo, which is my home track, so I was really hoping to return the favor. It was one of those nights for us. The car was working really well, and we had a lot of fun winning that race.
“The last time we were there (in June 2008) we had things rolling pretty well, too. The guys gave me a really good car and we had put ourselves in a pretty good spot. Earlier in the night, they were talking about a celebrity race in the modified class over the PA system. They kept saying Tony Stewart was going to be racing, and I knew he had a sponsor obligation and wouldn’t be there. I talked to the owners of the car he was supposed to drive and told them I’d make a few laps for them. I never had been in a Modified before, so it was quite an experience just hot-lapping the thing. I was all over the place, and I remember my dad saying afterward, ‘Who was in that thing?’ I didn’t want to tell him, it was me.
“After hot-lapping the Modified, I jumped back into the Sprint car and we moved forward in the dash. Then it was back to the Modified for the feature. I think I got a good starting spot and just kind of rolled around there good enough to keep the lead. We had a late restart and I know Clint Bowyer was right behind me. He’d obviously driven one of them before, and I figured he’d be all over me. I just drove it into the corner as hard as I could and it stuck and I won the race. The car owners were really happy. A few minutes later, I jumped back into the Armor All car and we drove into the lead and won the Outlaws race. That was a really fun night.”
The weekend ahead will mark your first stop in your home state of North Dakota. You’ve raced at River Cities Speedway a number of times in your career, including four times with the Outlaws. You’ve won two and finished third and fourth in the others. What would picking up another win there do for you and the team?
“Any time you can win, it’s big. Right now, we’ve been really battling it. The wins have been much harder to come by, and the guys on this Armor All team (crew chief Rick Warner, crewmen Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) are really working hard so that we can get that next win. North Dakota is my home state, so any time we get to race there, it’s special. I grew up watching the Outlaws race in Fargo every summer and, since I started racing with the Outlaws in 1997, I always look forward to getting a chance to race here.
“We’ve been pretty decent at Grand Forks the past couple of years. The breaks have kind of worked in our favor. Two years ago, the leaders got to banging around and we were there to take advantage. Last year, we got taken off the track by a lapped car, but the yellow came out, so we were able to keep our spot up front.
“It’s always special winning races, and we’d like nothing more than to win another one there in front of a lot of our fans. These guys work really hard on this team. Results are what matter and maybe a couple of good nights in North Dakota will get us headed in the direction we are all hoping to be heading.”