Schatz Comes Home Second in Kings Royal

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The World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series kicked off its annual “Month of Money” with three races in Ohio last week. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz led the two-car team with finishes of fourth in the Brad Doty Classic, seventh in the Knight Before the Kings Royal and second in the 31st annual Kings Royal behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J. TSR’s Steve Kinser continued the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour” with three consistent nights in the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim.

Sprint car racing’s richest month began with the 26th annual Brad Doty Classic at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio. Both Schatz and Kinser entered the event as two-time winners but struggled to find the speed they were looking for early in the program. Schatz, the 2011 and 2013 Doty winner, qualified 26th and finished eighth in heat three. Kinser, the 1990 and 2009 Doty champion, timed in 30th and finished seventh in heat three. Both drivers were forced to use provisional starting spots after failing to transfer through the B-Main. From the 25th and 26th starting positions, respectively, Schatz and Kinser raced their way forward in the 40-lap A-Feature. Kinser led the way early as they made their way. He was up to 10th and Schatz 11th during a midrace caution. Schatz got around Kinser during the ensuing restart and charged all the way to fourth while Kinser battled to maintain 11th during the final 10 laps of the race. Paul McMahan overtook early leader Sammy Swindell to score the win.

Next up was the first of two nights at Tony Stewart’s famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Before action started, there was plenty of buzz regarding a public unveiling of Schatz’s Knoxville Nationals car honoring STP’s 60th year of celebrating power and performance. Both Kinser and Schatz cracked the inversion during qualifying. Schatz timed in 15th and Kinser was 18th in the field of 47 cars. Kinser won heat three to gain a spot in the dash, where he finished ninth. Schatz finished third in heat five and transferred into the 30-lap A-Feature. Kinser started ninth and finished ninth while Schatz drove from 17th to seventh to earn his second consecutive KSE Hard Charger Award.

The stage was set Saturday for the 31st running of the Kings Royal. Kinser won the first Kings Royal in 1984 and was looking to capture his eighth. He thrilled the capacity crowd by winning the opening heat and earning the sixth position on the starting grid for the Kings Royal A-Feature. Schatz also had the fans on their feet with his thrilling drive to win heat five to grab a front-row starting position in the 40-lap race. Polesitter David Gravel took the lead on the initial start and led the first eight laps before Schatz took the lead on lap nine. He pulled away from Gravel, but a caution on lap 11 slowed his progress. Gravel took the lead on the restart and Schatz was relegated to third when Kerry Madsen got past him, as well. Madsen took the lead two laps later while Gravel and Schatz battled for second. A caution on lap 33 closed the gap again and this time it was Schatz getting the better of Gravel to grab second.

The five-time WoO champion got one last chance at Madsen when a late yellow led to a green-white-checkered finish. Madsen beat Schatz back to the line to win his first Kings Royal. Kinser finished 12th and is the only driver to compete in all 31 Kings Royal A-Features.

Schatz continues to control the top spot in the WoO championship standings with 6,755 points, giving him a 66-point lead over Daryn Pittman. Schatz has eight wins, 31 top-fives and 42 top10s. Kinser has one victory in 2014 and ranks eighth with 6,141 markers, 614 behind Schatz.

The race schedule continues to be at a challenging pace this week with races Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Don Martin Memorial Twin 30s at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania Tuesday is first, followed by races at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, a doubleheader at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Sunday’s annual stop at Lebanon Valley (N.Y.) Speedway.

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