Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz completed an action-packed month of the June with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series with a pair of races at Kansas dirt tracks. Kinser led the TSR tandem by finishing third Friday in the Outlaws’ return to the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks while Schatz pushed his top-10 streak to 10 Saturday at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
The pair entered the weekend separated by six points in the 2012 WoO championship chase. Kinser led the series into action on the heels of two top-two finishes last weekend behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim at Dodge City (Kan.) Raceway Park. Despite struggling with qualifying times, Schatz has remained in the thick of the battle with Kinser primarily because of his ability to charge the TSR No. 15 No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J into the top-10 no matter where he starts.
Friday’s race at the half-mile dirt track in Belleville marked only the third time in WoO history the series competed on the legendary high-banked track. The traveling Outlaws first stopped at the Kansas speedplant during the 1981 season before making their return last June. Kinser finished second in 1981 and was making a bid for the victory last season before blowing a right-rear tire. The 20-time WoO champion qualified seventh in the field of 24 cars and won the opening heat. He raced from seventh to fifth in the dash and started the 25-lap A-Feature on the inside of row three. The Bloomington, Ind., native held his spot in the top-five during the opening laps and took advantage of a mid-race restart to climb to third. He would follow winner Kerry Madsen and Sammy Swindell across the finish line.
Schatz, who made his debut at Belleville last June, turned the 10th-best lap in qualifying and started the first heat on the pole. He finished third after Kinser grabbed the lead at the start and was followed by Craig Dollansky. Schatz qualified for the dash and made the most of it by racing from ninth to seventh. The four-time WoO champion started the A-Feature seventh and battled inside the top-10 throughout the first half of the race. He would work his way to sixth in the final order to make it two straight top-10s at Belleville.
Kinser entered Saturday’s event at Lakeside Speedway with wins at the half-mile in each of the previous two seasons in the Bass Pro Shops machine. In his effort to make it three straight, “The King of the Outlaws” opened the night by turning the 10th-best lap in qualifying. He started on the pole in the first heat but couldn’t fend off Brian Brown for the lead, and then Joey Saldana took second from him. Kinser would finish third and start the 30-lap A-Feature 12th. In the A-Feature, Kinser was a victim of Brown’s opening-lap mistake and was collected in a multi-car accident when Brown crashed into the wall in turn three. Severe front-end damage on Kinser’s car couldn’t be repaired in the allotted two minutes in the work area and the race restarted without him. A stoppage on lap six allowed Kinser to return to the track and he raced his way from 19th to 14th in the final rundown.
The night was just as eventful for Schatz, who was looking to win his first WoO event at the half-mile track. He qualified 13th in the field of 21 cars and finished fifth in the first heat. He started 13th and fortunately was able to avoid the opening-lap melee. The Fargo, N.D., resident worked his way up to eighth before a fire ignited under the hood of his STP machine. He stopped and the fire was extinguished, allowing him to restart the race 15th. When the race resumed, he charged his way forward, getting to 10th before the track began taking rubber.
Swindell out-dueled Kraig Kinser for the Lakeside victory and, by doing so, overtook both TSR drivers in the championship standings. Swindell leads Kinser by nine points and is 13 ahead of Schatz. Swindell leads the series with six wins, while Kinser has posted the most top-five finishes with 16. Schatz has earned a series-best 27 top-10 finishes in 33 2012 events.
The WoO schedule continues this week with three races in the upper Midwest beginning Tuesday near Sioux Falls, S.D. The Outlaws contest their annual stop at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D., the night before the Fourth of July and then travel to Wisconsin for a pair of weekend battles. Friday, the tour stops at Cedar Lake Speedway in Somerset, Wis., and, Saturday, they’ll race at Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway.