INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 6, 2011) – The biggest stars always seem to attract the most attention. In the sports world, winning and building dynasties gets everyone’s attention. It brings out the lovers and the haters. And it seems those who have been fans all along root on their heroes even more, and the ones hoping for anyone else to win will cheer at the top of their lungs when the stars don’t finish on top.
Whether it’s the Bronx Bombers, who tonight will try to stay on course toward a record 28th World Series championship, or the defending Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers, one of only two undefeated teams in the National Football League, people either love or hate them. In NASCAR, fans share the same spirit when it comes to winning drivers. Whether it was Richard Petty, the late Dale Earnhardt, the hot shot kid who came from the open-wheel ranks named Jeff Gordon, or reigning and five-time champ Jimmie Johnson, they have been plenty of cheers and more than a fair share of boos.
Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser is an icon in Sprint-car racing and has been the face of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series for more than 30 years thanks, in part, to his 20 WoO titles. He regularly gets the most fan reaction, much like his TSR teammate Donny Schatz who, in the last five years, has heard a good amount of cheers turn to boos in the wake of four consecutive WoO titles.
It’s kind of like the old theory about half of them cheering and the other half booing. At least they know your were there. Kinser and Schatz will be vocal targets when they return to action this weekend knowing, no matter the outcome, some fans will sound happy and others won’t. Action begins Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., where the Outlaws will try for the second time to stage the $50,000-to-win Morgan Hughes National Open. Persistent rain last Saturday night forced the event to be pushed back six days, giving the rabid fans of central Pennsylvania another week to build up their animosity toward the Outlaw regulars. On Saturday night, the traveling winged warriors return to central New York for the STP Shootout, a special Sprint Car event at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y., during Super DIRT Week, the biggest week of dirt-track racing of the season in the Northeast.
Both TSR drivers are looking at their return to Williams Grove as a second chance. Last Friday, neither had the kind of finish he was hoping for. Kinser raced the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim to a ninth-place finish in the 25-lap A-Feature. Schatz came home 17th aboard the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J. Both drivers hope to become the first in the event’s 49-year history to win for a fifth time. Kinser earned National Open wins in 1990, 1992, 1994 and 2003. Schatz scored the 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2007 National Open victories.
Following Friday night’s festivities at Williams Grove, the TSR teams will travel more than 280 miles north to the Syracuse area. Last season, Kinser and Schatz earned TSR a one-two finish in the 25-lap main event. The victory was Kinser’s 11th in 28 WoO outings at the 5/8-mile dirt oval. He first won at the track in 1981, 11 years later celebrated his 38th birthday by winning his 314th career A-Feature, and won at the track for the 10th time in May 2008.
Schatz has competed at Rolling Wheels every season he’s been racing with the Outlaws. Saturday’s appearance will be his 15th. The Fargo, N.D., racer has two career victories at the facility. His first came in 2004, when he spoiled Kinser’s 50th birthday by racing past “The King of the Outlaws” with only two laps remaining. He also won in 2006, the year of his first WoO title. He finished second in the A-feature in October 2009 and 2010.
Both drivers continue to trail 2010 WoO champion Jason Meyers in the 2011 championship standings. Meyers holds a 181-point advantage over Schatz. Kinser is two points behind Schatz with six races remaining. Schatz has won six A-Features, has 29 top-fives and 48 top-10s in 59 WoO starts this season. Kinser has won nine A-Features, has 28 top-fives and 46 top-10s.
Friday at Williams Grove, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 6 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (717) 679-5000 or visit www.williamsgrove.com.
Saturday at Rolling Wheels, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (315) 834-6606 or visit www.rollingwheelsraceway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim:
With the way things went last Friday night at Williams Grove, did it bother you to see the race moved back one week?
“Actually, no it didn’t. It’s looking like a pretty smart move right now. The weather was bad last Saturday and Sunday didn’t look promising. With all the moisture in the air, I’m guessing, even if we were able to race, the track would have stayed pretty fast. Right now, it’s so hard to pass cars. You see guys winning races from the front row more and more. I’m not enjoying qualifying sixth in a field of 53 cars and having to start the feature in the middle of the pack. All you can do is try to get what you can on the starts and hope for a double-file restart and get a few more. The Bass Pro Shops guys (Scott Gerkin, Gary DuBois and Mikey Kuemper) put in a good week at the shop and maybe things will work out a little bit better for us there on Friday night. I hope so. It’s a big race and it’s been a long time since I’ve won it. I’d sure like to do it again.”
With the winning percentage you have at Rolling Wheels, you have to be looking forward to getting back on the track there.
“There are some places that we’d like to be at every week, and I’d say Rolling Wheels is one of those. It’s a track we really seem to run well at every time we go there. It seems to fit my driving style and the way we prepare our racecars. I know, when we always go back and look at our notes, a lot of things seem to be repeated there. Winning there last year was a good feeling. There aren’t many races left this year and you want to win as many as you can. I’ve had a lot of success at Rolling Wheels and I’d like to keep that going.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Last weekend’s return to Williams Grove didn’t go as planned. Are you happy to be getting another chance at the $50,000 National Open?
“We are happy to be able to race as much as we can. Mother Nature didn’t really cooperate last weekend and maybe it’ll be something that works in our favor. We didn’t have the kind of night we hoped for last Friday, so the STP crew (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, and Bob Curtis) and I talked about what we could do differently this week. We didn’t qualify too bad (eighth), but we couldn’t race. I had a really hard time getting around the track, and that’s a big deal at ‘The Grove.’ I know the guys spent a lot of time this week getting us ready. It’s a whole new game on Friday night and, hopefully, we’ll be a factor in the outcome.”
Saturday’s STP Shootout is a unique opportunity for the TSR team to win a race named after your car’s primary sponsor. How cool would that be?
“STP and Armor All are great partners to Tony Stewart Racing, and I’ve been fortunate to carry their brands and colors since I came to TSR. We’ve had the privilege of having a lot of their executives and employees come out to our races this year. Whether it was in Calistoga, Kansas City, Cottage Grove or Antioch, it’s fun to see all those blue STP shirts and the people be so excited to be at the track. Scott Thomas (Armor All/STP Associate Marketing Manager) was with us in victory lane at the Knoxville Nationals, and it was fun to share that experience with him. We’d love to take the STP car to victory lane Saturday night in the STP Shootout. The last couple of years, we’ve finished second at Rolling Wheels. Saturday would be a great time to finish one spot better. ”
About Armored AutoGroup
Armored AutoGroup Inc., headquartered in Danbury, CT, is primarily comprised of the Armor All® and STP® brands. Armor All’s® current product line of protectants, wipes, tire and wheel care products, glass cleaners, leather care products and washes is designed to clean, shine and protect interior and exterior automobile surfaces. STP’s® offering of oil and fuel additives, functional fluids and automotive appearance products has a broad customer base ranging from professional racers to car enthusiasts and ‘‘Do-it-Yourselfers’’. The company has a diversified geographic footprint with direct operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K. and distributor relationships in approximately 50 countries. For more information, please visit www.armorall.com and www.stp.com.
About Bass Pro Shops Group
Bass Pro Shops – 56 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 109 million people annually, international catalog and internet retailing, American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide, Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations. For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com. To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO.
Tracker Marine Group – Manufactures and sells Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats through Bass Pro Shops retail stores and over 400 dealers worldwide.
Resort Group – Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. Visit www.bigcedar.com for more information.
About J.D. Byrider
In business more than 20 years, J.D. Byrider is the nation’s leading franchised used car sales and finance business. The company was founded to serve customers with special auto financing needs and to ensure that they receive the same quality service in every J.D. Byrider dealership. With nearly 900,000 consumers matched to quality, affordable vehicles, the company continues its focus on reliability and customer satisfaction.
Headquartered near Indianapolis in Carmel, Ind., J.D. Byrider has 135franchised- and company-owned dealerships in 30 states. Visit www.jdbyrider.com to learn more.