The Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) tandem of Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz continued their journey toward the 2012 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series championship last week. The weekend slate was reduced to one night thanks once again to Mother Nature proving too tough Friday at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. Under threatening skies Saturday, Kinser and Schatz were able to hit the dirt at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich. They were able to beat the rain, barely, with Kinser coming home fourth and Schatz sixth in the 35-lap finale.
Kinser was the 17th competitor in the 26-car field to circle the newly reconfigured 3/8-mile dirt oval in qualifying. He drove the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim around the high groove and turned the seventh-best lap. A victory in the opening heat earned Kinser a spot in the six-lap dash. The 20-time WoO champion started sixth in the dash and was plugging along until he was contacted by Craig Dollansky, which sent “The King of the Outlaws” spinning to a stop. He restarted and would finish ninth in the 10-car field. In the A-Feature, Kinser passed a pair of cars early in the race that went green for the first 17 laps before being red-flagged for a turn-four accident. On the restart, Kinser lined up sixth and was able to pass both Cody Darrah and Kerry Madsen to climb to fourth. The final 18 laps went nonstop and Kinser finished fourth to earn his 12th top-five finish in 2012.
A late qualifying draw didn’t crush the chances of Schatz and the STP team. He was the second-to-last car to qualify and wheeled the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J right along the cushion and posted the 12th-fastest lap. His time earned the four-time WoO champion the pole position for heat three. Track conditions continued to deteriorate during heat action and, by heat three, it was clear the high side had the advantage. Schatz tried to get to the high side in turns one and two, but coming out of the turns, Tim Shaffer had passed him for second. During the rest of the race, Schatz tried to close the gap for the coveted second spot but would have to settle for third. Schatz started the main event 12th and, after a handful of laps, found himself on the bumper of Kinser. The two weaved through traffic until the red halted action on lap 17. On the restart, Schatz tried to follow Kinser past Darrah but couldn’t clear him. Schatz would try for the next 15 laps to pass Darrah, but the track simply wasn’t conducive to side-by-side racing. Schatz finished sixth to earn his series-best 18th top-10 of 2012.
Dollansky, who stared third, raced into the lead on lap 10 and would go on to earn his fourth WoO A-Feature of the season.
With his fourth-place finish, Kinser continues to lead the 2012 WoO championship standings heading into this week’s action. “The King of the Outlaws” leads Schatz by 30 markers through 24 of 73 scheduled points races.
The TSR teams will have a quick turnaround this week and will be in action again on Tuesday night at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. Kinser and Schatz will also race Wednesday, but not in their TSR Winged Sprint cars. Instead, the duo will make their Dirt Late Model debuts competing in the eighth annual Feed the Children Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. A weekend of action in Iowa follows with a stop Friday at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer and a return to legendary Knoxville Raceway Saturday night.