By Bill Klingbeil
INDIANAPOLIS (April 28, 2011) – It’s been a long month for the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series competitors. After losing consecutive weekends of action to Mother Nature, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz will once again try to make their 2011 Midwest debut Saturday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. The Outlaws event will help kick-off one the busiest four weeks of motorsports in the Hoosier state.
Saturday’s race will be a homecoming for Kinser, who hails from nearby Bloomington. The driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim is looking to take advantage of racing within a couple hours of home and the fact that he’s made more laps around the high-banked quarter mile dirt oval than any of the other traveling Outlaws.
Schatz, who will pilot the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, made his debut at Tri-State during his WoO rookie campaign in 1997 and is still seeking his first win at the track. Both drivers are more than ready to return to action for the first time since April 2 when the Outlaws last raced at Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway.
Following a scheduled weekend off on April 9, the Outlaw events at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway, I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., and Salina (Okla.) Highbanks have all been postponed because of wet weather. The event Saturday begins a stretch of 10 races in the upcoming 31 days for the Outlaws.
Kinser, who started the 2011 WoO season with consecutive wins, is looking forward to racing in southwest Indiana at a track where he’s been very successful. “The King of the Outlaws” has won 22 Sprint car feature events at the track during his career. In 1978, he competed in 10 Sprint car races at the track and won every race. Kinser’s first of eight WoO wins at Tri-State came in May 1980, and in his previous three WoO wins (1997, 2005 and 2007) at Tri-State, he’s dominated the A-Feature events by leading all 40 laps each time.
The flag-to-flag win he scored in May 1997 came on one of the more memorable days of his historic racing career. That particular Sunday began with Kinser qualifying for the 81st Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and concluded at Tri-State with him scoring his 415th career WoO A-Feature triumph.
That historic Sunday in May 1997 also happened to be the night Schatz made his debut at Tri-State. It was one of his best outcomes during a tough rookie season. Early in the 40-lap race, he found himself in second position chasing Kinser. Schatz ended up finishing the race in sixth, scoring the first of his nine career top-10 finishes at the track. In 2007, Schatz passed 12 cars to finish sixth again, and his best career finish at the track came in July 2008, when he charged to a third-place finish. Last fall, Schatz led 21 laps in the 40-lap A-Feature before finishing fourth.
Through 11 of 67 WoO races, Kinser ranks second in the 2011 WoO championship standings with 1,542 points. He trails Joey Saldana by four markers, but leads the series with four wins and 10 top-10 finishes. Schatz has earned six top-fives and seven top-10s and ranks fourth in the standings with 1,493 points, 53 behind Saldana.
For Saturday’s event at Tri-State, the pit gates open at 2:30 p.m. CDT, and the grandstands open at 3:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets, visit www.tristatespeedway.com or call the track at (812) 768-5995.
Race fans unable to attend Saturday’s race 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:
Every year that you’ve competed at Tri-State you seem to do well. What’s the biggest factor in your success there?
“It’s one of those small tracks that I started racing on and usually run pretty well at. It’s always nice to be close to home and do some racing in your home state. Any time you can compete at tracks where you started racing at, you have a little advantage. Tri-State is still the same track, as far as layout, banking, dirt, everything from when I started.”
“We’ve won a lot of races there and been right there battling for wins quite a few other times, too. It’s a bullring. You’ve got to be fast from the start, but you also have to be able to adjust to things quickly. Traffic is a big factor, so making the right decisions at the right time is important. Maybe having raced there as much as I have, I’m better prepared for some of that. We’re looking forward to it.”
The weather has been tough on your racing schedule the past couple of weeks. What have you been doing to keep yourself occupied?
“I’m kind of running out of things to do. I love being outside this time of the year. I’ve got a lot of property to keep up with, but you can’t get out there and mow when it’s pouring down rain. I’ve played some racquetball and just keep trying to find things to stay busy. The guys on the race team have looked things over pretty close many times. I know they are ready to get going too. Hopefully, we’ll get Saturday’s race in and have a busy May full of racing.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Tri-State is one of the tracks you’ve competed on since your rookie days with the Outlaws. What are your thoughts on racing there?
“It’s always fun to race in Haubstadt. When I first started, it reminded me of Sunday nights at Huset’s Speedway (in Brandon, S.D.). It’s small and the action is fast and furious. We haven’t really had that much success there, but we are getting better. Last fall, we were actually pretty decent early in the race and led the first half of it. Hopefully, we can build on that and put ourselves in a position to win again this time. You want to win everywhere you go, but sometimes it just takes longer to get a handle of a track. Like I said, I feel good about what we did last fall and nothing would make me happier than winning my first race of the year at Tri-State.”
The schedule in May has number of races at tracks where you’ve been successful in the past. How important is it for you to have a good result on Saturday night?
“We haven’t raced for a long time. Three weeks is like an eternity for us. I know we can control the weather, but what makes the Outlaw competitors so good is by racing one another. When I first started, we would race 100 nights a year. Every time you raced you had to get better if you were going to succeed. We’ve only raced 11 times this year and it’s almost May, so every night is important. Do we want to do well at Eldora, Williams Grove and Charlotte? Absolutely. You can’t just show up at those places and be good. The guys that we’ll be racing have been getting plenty of seat time. Like I said before, you have to race to stay sharp and get better. We have to be good at Tri-State on Saturday and then just as good or better at Salina (Okla.) on Tuesday. We put some big goals on the board this year, and the only way we’re going to reach them is by doing well every night. We didn’t get off to the kind of start we wanted to, so it’s really important for us to pick up the pace during the next 30 days or so. It starts with Saturday.”
About Armored AutoGroup
Armored AutoGroup Inc., headquartered in Danbury, CT, is primarily comprised of the Armor All® and STP® brands. Armor All’s® current product line of protectants, wipes, tire and wheel care products, glass cleaners, leather care products and washes is designed to clean, shine and protect interior and exterior automobile surfaces. STP’s® offering of oil and fuel additives, functional fluids and automotive appearance products has a broad customer base ranging from professional racers to car enthusiasts and ‘‘Do-it-Yourselfers’’. The company has a diversified geographic footprint with direct operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K. and distributor relationships in approximately 50 countries. For more information, please visit www.armorall.com and www.stp.com.
About Bass Pro Shops Group
Bass Pro Shops – 56 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 109 million people annually, international catalog and internet retailing, American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide, Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations. For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com. To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO.
Tracker Marine Group – Manufactures and sells Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats through Bass Pro Shops retail stores and over 400 dealers worldwide.
Resort Group – Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. Visit www.bigcedar.com for more information.