Last weekend, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz traveled to their northern-most stop on the 2012 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series schedule. The TSR teams ventured to Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta, for Friday and Saturday’s sixth annual Oil City Cup. Both Kinser and Schatz were looking to return to victory lane at the 3/8-mile dirt oval for the first time since 2007. Neither driver was able to snap his winless streak at the track, but Kinser finished third in Saturday’s 35-lap finale while Schatz finished fifth.
The event marked the second time in just over a month that the series crossed into Canada. In July, it was for races in Quebec and Ontario and this time it was for the duels in Alberta. Kinser finished 11th in Friday’s 35-lap A-Feature behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, and bounced back with a strong run Saturday night, during which he qualified seventh, won the opening heat and charged forward in both the dash the 35-lap main event to finish third. It was his 14th podium finish of the season and gave him 38 top-10s in 2012.
“I feel better about the weekend after finishing third,” said Kinser, who won the Outlaws’ debut at Castrol back in August 2007. “We’ve been qualifying in the spots where it puts us on the front row for the heats, which is good, but we just haven’t been able to get the dash draw to work out for us. Fortunately (Saturday) we were able to pass a few in the dash and then get by a couple guys in the A-Feature. We weren’t quite as fast as (race-winner) Sammy (Swindell) or (Sam) Hafertepe, but being back on the podium helps. Hopefully, we can carry some of this with us to Washington and be right up (on the podium) again.”
Schatz led the Outlaws to Castrol following his hometown victory Aug. 19 in Minot, N.D., behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J. The four-time WoO champion put together a consistent evening for most of the Oil City Cup opener. He qualified third overall, finished second in heat three and won the dash to claim the pole position. In the A-Feature, Craig Dollansky got the jump and set the pace while Schatz and Kerry Madsen battled for second. Schatz was solidly in third for a majority of the race but, after a late restart, his STP machine began slowing down. The right-rear tire was cut by debris on the track and began losing air, causing him to drop from third to eighth at the finish. Dollansky led every lap to score the victory.
The STP team returned Saturday with an eye on redemption from the night before. Schatz was again one of the fastest cars in qualifying as he turned the second-best lap against the clock. The Fargo, N.D., racer finished third in heat two but backed up from second to sixth in the dash. In the 35-lap A-Feature, he started sixth and fell to seventh before mounting a charge up to fourth. He was running fourth until the final lap, when Cody Darrah passed him to take the spot.
“We had a car capable of running better than we did both nights,” said Schatz, whose fifth-place finish gave him a series-best 43 top-10s on the season. “Friday, I felt like we were a second-place car and I knew something was going wrong with that tire late in the race. (Saturday), we went in the wrong direction in the dash and it took us a while to get going forward in the feature. These STP guys are working hard every night to give me a strong car. We’ll just keep digging and see if we can get closer to where we need to be.”
With the conclusion of the Oil City Cup, the 2012 WoO championship standings continue to be tight with only 19 nights of racing remaining. Dollansky leads Schatz by 32 points, while Swindell trails by 45 and Kinser is 74 back. Swindell picked up his series-leading 10th WoO A-Feature on Saturday night. Dollansky and Schatz both have seven feature wins.
The Outlaws’ 2012 journey across North America continues with a busy week of action in the northwest. Kinser and Schatz return to the United States beginning Wednesday at Grays Harbor Raceway Park in Elma, Wash. The weekend includes a pair of races at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash., and concludes with a Labor Day special at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Oregon.