As often is the case for the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series in March, Mother Nature continues to be more than a formidable foe. For the third consecutive weekend, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) drivers Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz were able to compete Friday and Saturday but were forced to watch as rain prevailed. Kinser closed the Outlaws’ spring California tour by finishing seventh in Friday night’s WoO 40-lap A-Feature at Merced (Calif.) Speedway while Schatz finished 15th after some bad luck midway through the main event.
Kinser opened the night by turning the 11th-fastest lap in qualifying behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim. “The King of the Outlaws” dominated the second heat and raced from 10th to seventh in the dash. At the start of the 40-lap A-Feature, Kinser began a battle with Chad Kemenah for eighth that lasted a few circuits. Once he was able to navigate past Kemienah, Kinser set his sights on Joey Saldana. The two exchanged positions midway through the race and later were part of a three-car battle for the sixth with Craig Dollansky. Dollansky would eventually get past both drivers and claim the position. After 40 laps, Kinser was ahead of Saldana to earn seventh and score his fifth straight top-10 finish.
After winning last Friday night’s WoO main event at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., Schatz was hoping to make it two straight wins in the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J. Unfortunately, things didn’t start well for Schatz, who turned the 18th-best lap in the field of 29 cars. The four-time WoO champion started sixth in heat three and finished fifth in the 10-lap race to qualify for the main event. Schatz started 18th and began moving forward once the race reached lap 10. By lap 15, he had climbed to 14th and, on the following lap, he made contact with Cody Lamar trying to move into 13th. The contact forced him off the track and brought out a caution. Schatz rejoined the field in 22nd position and spent the remainder of the race working back up to 15th.
Sammy Swindell led all 40 laps of the A-Feature and became the sixth different 2012 WoO winner. The victory, which was his 277th career WoO A-Feature triumph and second consecutive at Merced, allowed Swindell to regain the top spot in the 2012 WoO championship standings.
Persistent rain late in the week and into Saturday forced WoO officials to postpone the Outlaws’ return to Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway. Plans are in place to secure a future date to make up the event.
The 15th-place finish for Schatz was only his second outside of the top-10 this season but did drop him to second in the 2012 WoO championship standings. Through eight of the 78 scheduled nights of racing, he has earned 1,098 points, six less than Swindell. Kinser remains sixth with 1,076 points and trails Swindell by 28.
The TSR teams will return to Indiana this week and will take the holiday weekend off. The Outlaws return to action Friday, April 13 at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway.