By Bill Klingbeil
INDIANAPOLIS (June 21, 2012) – With summer officially underway, it seems only appropriate the next stop on the rugged World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series tour is in Dodge City, Kan., where temperatures are expected to rise above 90 degrees this weekend. The 2012 WoO championship standings have been hotly contested all season and Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) drivers Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz have been major players in the battle.
The two-night Boot Hill Showdown at Dodge City Raceway Park is the next opportunity for Schatz and Kinser to resume their title shootout. Kinser, who is chasing his 21st WoO crown, will look to regain the top spot behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim. Schatz, driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, overtook Kinser in the standings last Saturday when he charged from 11th to third at his home track of Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, N.D.
Both drivers continue to chase victories, and it’s been a while since either has visited victory lane at the 3/8-mile dirt oval. Kinser won the Outlaws’ debut at the track in June 2004, and Schatz was a Dodge City winner in June 2008. Kinser finished seventh and sixth in two races at the track last season. Schatz finished 20th in the opener when his TSR No. 15 machine had an oil fire, but he bounced back to finish eighth in the finale.
Consistency of late has allowed Schatz to grab the WoO points lead for the sixth time this season. He has earned six straight top-eight finishes, including three consecutive top-fours. He is looking to end a 17-race winless streak dating back to his 116th career WoO A-Feature triumph at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway on April 25. The four-time WoO champion leads the series with 23 top-10 finishes this season.
Kinser took advantage of consistent runs in mid-May and grabbed the points lead following his first triumph of 2012 at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. He won again the following week at Orange County Fair Raceway in Middletown, N.Y., to extend his lead, and he held it until he suffered his first DNF (did not finish) Saturday because of a motor failure.
Both nights at Dodge City, the grandstands open at 5 p.m. CDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. For more details, contact Dodge City Raceway Park at (620) 225-3277 or visit the track’s official Web site at www.dodgecityraceway.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/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim:
What sort of challenges does the extreme heat you’ll be dealing with this weekend present to Sprint car racing?
“The biggest thing is that the air isn’t great for the motors. It takes a little different approach compared to racing somewhere with cool temperatures. The tracks usually get a little drier with the heat and wind that we’ll have down in Kansas. It’s something we’ve dealt with for a lot of years. (Crew chief) Scott (Gerkin) and the guys have plenty of experience in getting our cars to work in these extreme conditions. As a driver, you do have to be smart and keep yourself hydrated, as well.”
You lost the top spot in the standings following the motor problem in Fargo. What’s the key to getting back on top?
“We actually haven’t been too bad but just need a little more consistency. We had a really good night in Grand Forks and probably would have finished OK Saturday if it wasn’t for a part failure. Those things happen. We’ve been able to avoid them so far, so we’ll just keep working hard. Everyone who’s been up there in the points has had his good spells and struggles. Hopefully, Saturday was just a hiccup and we can get back to qualifying well and racing well at the end of the night. That’s what it’ll take. You feel good about being in the hunt right now, but staying in there is what’s most important.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Last weekend’s trip to your home state of North Dakota proved to be a good one for you. Can you use this momentum to help continue your chase for a fifth WoO championship?
“We had a decent weekend and Steve had some trouble Saturday night, so we came out with the points lead. Both nights, we started 11th and were in the battle for the win at one point and that’s all you can ask for. I think we could have done a couple of things differently and maybe the outcome would have been just a bit better. We’re still gaining on it. By no means have we gotten everything where it needs to be. Momentum can come and go so, yes, we’d like to keep running up front and build on last weekend.”
Dodge City Raceway Park is a newer facility on the circuit. Has it been tough to figure out?
“We’ve raced on it quite a few years and I feel like we’ve got a lot of it figured out, but we still need to get better there. We went through a spell where we timed in really well there and couldn’t race quite as well. The surface really takes a beating with the heat and wind. As someone who now knows more about that stuff because of what my family is doing with Red River Valley Speedway, I can appreciate all the effort it takes to try and give us a good track. Sometimes you have to rework the track. Sometimes you have to leave it alone. I’m sure they’ll do everything they can to give us a good track both nights and, maybe after Saturday, we’ll be able to say we’ve got it figured it out.”
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.