By Bill Klingbeil
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 21, 2011) – Winning is contagious. Last Saturday night, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser won his 570th career World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series A-Feature at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., and less than 48 hours later, his boss, Tony Stewart, parked the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala in victory lane at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. The question is whether TSR’s Donny Schatz, winner of a series-high 79 races since the beginning of the 2006 WoO season, can continue the victory parade as the Outlaws embark on their final 10 races in 2011.
The Outlaws return to action tonight at Hartford (Mich.) Motor Speedway before making their final appearance at Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Friday night. Friday’s WoO race, which kicks off Eldora’s two-night 4-Crown Nationals, will include Stewart, who will be making his first Outlaw start since July 27, when he won his first career WoO A-Feature at Ohsweken (Ontario) Speedway. The United States Auto Club (USAC) will stage a tripleheader with its Silver Crown, National Sprint Car and Midget Series divisions all competing at the track on Saturday night. TSR’s Levi Jones, the 2010 USAC National Sprint and Silver Crown champion, and Bryan Clauson were victorious in the Sprint feature and Silver Crown feature, respectively, in last year’s 4-Crown Nationals. While Jones and Clauson look to repeat at Eldora, Kinser and Schatz will travel east to Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., for Saturday’s Commonwealth Clash, which Schatz won last year.
Kinser leads the Outlaws back to Hartford tonight for the first time since July 2005, when he led all 30 laps of the main event. He’s coming off a week that included two victories in the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim. The 20-time WoO champion has 35 career WoO wins at Eldora in nearly 150 career starts at the famed high-banked half-mile dirt oval. His most recent win came in the 2010 Kings Royal last July, which marked the seventh time Kinser pocketed the $50,000 prize. On Saturday night, he’ll return to Lernerville, which has been a staple on the WoO schedule since the series’ first visit in August 1979. Kinser won that night on the 4/10-mile dirt oval in western Pennsylvania and will be looking to win his 18th career WoO A-Feature at the track on Saturday night. In his last race at the track, the Bloomington, Ind., native finished second in the Silver Cup finale.
For Schatz, Wednesday’s race in Michigan will offer the four-time WoO champion the chance to make it 26 states where he’s been victorious with the Outlaws. He has a pair of runner-up finishes at the half-mile dirt oval located in southwestern Michigan. The Fargo, N.D., racer is coming off two podium finishes behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J. On Friday, he’ll be seeking his 80th WoO A-Feature start and sixth career WoO A-Feature at Eldora. He is a two-time Kings Royal winner and finished fourth in this year’s 40-lap Kings Royal. Schatz has four career WoO A-Feature wins at Lernerville, including a pair of Silver Cup victories and last year’s triumph in the Commonwealth Clash. In that 35-lap main event, he took command following a lap-11 restart and led the final 24 circuits to score the win.
Kinser’s victory last week allowed him to cut into Jason Meyers’ lead in the 2011 WoO championship standings. Kinser ranks second, 98 points back, and has won nine A-Features and has 28 top-fives and 44 top-10s in 55 WoO starts this season. Schatz holds third in the standings, sitting 26 markers behind Kinser and 124 behind Meyers. He has won six A-Features, including his fifth Knoxville Nationals, and has 27 top-fives and 45 top-10s.
Friday at Eldora, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 2:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (937) 338-3815 or visit www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
On Saturday at Lernerville, the pit gates will open at 4 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (724) 353-1511 or visit www.lernerville.com.
Race fans unable to attend this week’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. 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/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim:
You had quite the week that started and ended with WoO wins. The only downside was an accident in Friday’s event. What does it say about your team that you can destroy a car one night and, the next night, dominate a race and earn another victory?
“It says all that matters. You have to have a great group around you to be successful. Last weekend was a perfect example. We were sitting pretty good at Clay County (Fair Speedway) on Friday with a couple of laps to go and ended up crashed. The Bass Pro Shops team (Scott Gerkin, Gary DuBois and Mikey Kuemper) loaded up the wrecked car, traveled down the road three hours, got a little sleep and built me a new car. It was a fast machine and we were able to win. As a driver, you want to repay them for their hard work and winning races is the best way to do it. This is not an easy life and I really rely on them so much. We are a team in all aspects. Now it’s time to build on that win and see if we can come back and win again this week.”
The weekend includes a return to Eldora Speedway and Lernerville Speedway. Both tracks have been part of the Outlaws since the early years. Would you say they are a couple of your favorite places to race?
“They both are. Any place where you’ve done well is a place you enjoy going to. I’ve always loved Eldora. Growing up in Bloomington (Ind.), we always knew about Eldora. I can still remember the first time I got to watch my dad there. To be able to race there and to have as much success as we’ve had there is pretty unbelievable. It’s a high-speed place – the kind of place I really believe these Sprint cars are made to race on. The wall is intimidating but you have to get up on the track and go. We haven’t had the best of luck there this year, but I hope that changes on Friday night. Maybe we can get up front and put a on a show. As far as Lernerville goes, it’s a really good place to race, as well. (Former promoter) Don Martin was really good to us and the track is always in great shape. I let one get away from us there in July, so we have some unfinished business to take care of there.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Your return to the Midwest provided a pair of podium finishes. With three more races in the Midwest this week, you have to be excited to get back to the track?
“We’re always excited to race, so having three races this week is a really good thing. It felt good to get back to the Midwest. We had a couple of decent nights. I feel like we should have won Friday night at Spencer but things didn’t go our way. The car had a really good balance and the motor ran well, which is really encouraging. We’re back to big, half-mile-type tracks this week and we like those kinds of tracks. The STP crew (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Bob Curtis) spent a couple of days back at the TSR shop working really hard. We are excited about a new package we’re going to run this week.”
After winning four consecutive WoO championships and finishing second last year, do you feel like a “playoff chase,” or point reshuffling at the end of the year, would make the sport more exciting?
“I guess it depends on where you are in the standings. This year, I’d say, ‘Sure,’ since we’ve got more than 100 points to make up. Honestly, I like the system the way we have it. It rewards consistency. You have to win races. You have to finish well all the time. Qualifying is important. The way we have it now is a proven system. A lot of times, people think it’s the wins that make the difference in the championship. Don’t get me wrong – the wins are very important, but it’s the races you don’t win that determine whether you can win a championship or not. You have to make the best of the bad nights. It’s about overcoming adversity and bouncing back when things don’t go your way. Steve (Kinser) proved that so many times – that you have to just keep racing hard every night. Jason (Meyers) has been extremely consistent and has minimized the bad nights. That’s why he has the lead he has. Right now, we have to win races and he’ll need a few bad nights if we are going to be close enough to be a factor in this thing by the time we get to Charlotte for the World Finals.”
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.