The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series competitors face just about everything during their 10-month season. Oftentimes, Mother Nature proves to be one of the toughest competitors. Racing prevailed on Friday night at the Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., but the Outlaws lost their first race to rain on Saturday night. Donny Schatz led the two-car Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) team by finishing sixth in Friday night’s WoO A-Feature while Steve Kinser rebounded to finish seventh after some bad luck early in the main event.
Schatz, driver of the No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J for TSR, headed to the Central Valley looking to bounce back from a 15th-place run the previous weekend in Southern California. Despite being the 25th of 26 cars to hit the 1/3-mile, clay oval for qualifying, the four-time WoO champion turned the eighth-best lap. He dominated heat two and earned a spot in the dash following his third heat victory of 2012. After the heats, the track was still heavy and fast as officials tried to beat Mother Nature. Schatz finished fifth in the dash and started the 35-lap A-Feature on the inside of row of three. During the first half of the race, Schatz looked for opportunities to climb into the top-five. As the race continued, Schatz battled several drivers inside the top-10. A caution slowed the action on lap 25 and was followed by a brief rain shower. The STP crew made a few adjustments to the TSR’s No. 15 racecar during the stoppage and, when the race resumed, Schatz found the high groove to his liking. He raced from ninth up to sixth and spent the final five laps trying to pass Joey Saldana for fifth. Schatz would end up finishing sixth to earn his fifth top-10 in six 2012 WoO starts.
Being in the right place at the right time is really important in short-track racing. Kinser found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time in Friday night’s A-Feature and it may have cost him a shot at victory. He opened the evening by qualifying the No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim 10th overall. A victory in the opening heat and a second-place finish in the dash earned the 20-time WoO champion a front-row starting spot for the feature. Kinser jumped into the lead and held the top spot for the first five circuits. Tim Kaeding passed Kinser on the high side on lap six, but Kinser stayed close to the leader. A lap later he found himself too close as Kaeding made contact with Bill Rose. When Rose got sideways from the contact, it left Kinser nowhere to go and his Bass Pro Shops machine made contact with Rose. The collision forced him into the infield and, by the time he was able to return to the track, he was 12th. Despite the damage, Kinser was able to keep his sights on the top-10 until the red flag halted the action. When the race resumed, Kinser gained three spots and followed Schatz to the finish.
Kaeding would go on to win the race and become the season’s first two-time winner in WoO action.
Mother Nature would triumph on Saturday as heavy rain washed out the program. WoO officials are currently working on a future date to make up the event.
The sixth-place finish for Schatz allowed him to regain the lead in the 2012 WoO championship standings. Through six of the 78 scheduled nights of racing, he has earned 828 points, five more than Sammy Swindell. Kinser continues to rank seventh with 798 points and trails Schatz by 30.
The California tour continues for TSR and the Outlaws this weekend with the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., on Friday and Saturday.