INDIANAPOLIS (March 13, 2011) – After staging races last weekend in “Sin City” and Southern California, the stars of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series will set up camp for the next three weekends in the Golden State and compete six times in central California. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz are looking to avoid any upsets of the March Madness variety and charge through the competition like number-one seeds racing through their brackets when they resume action on Friday and Saturday night at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif.
Kinser is coming off a pair of third-place finishes behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D.Byrider/Chevy Maxim, and the 20-time WoO champion is still seeking his first triumph in 2012. Kinser won the Outlaws’ first-ever race at Thunderbowl back in September 2003. It was the first of 18 times he’s raced at the track with his best weekend coming in February 2006, when he swept a pair of feature races staged by the National Sprint Tour. “The King of the Outlaws” has seven top-10 finishes in his last eight starts at the track, including a charge from 17th to sixth in the series’ most recent stop there last March.
Schatz will be piloting the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevy J&J and is seeking his second WoO A-Feature win of 2012. The four-time WoO champion has twice been victorious at the 1/3-mile high-banked clay oval, most recently in October 2007. Last March, Schatz finished third in a 35-lap thriller, which was his eighth top-five finish in 15 career starts in Tulare.
Through five 2012 WoO events, Schatz has a victory, three top-fives and four top-10s and ranks second in the WoO championship standings. Schatz has 690 points and is currently 15 markers behind Sammy Swindell. Kinser has two top-five finishes and three top-10s and has accumulated 662 points, which ranks him seventh overall.
For both events this weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway, the pit gates will be open throughout the day while the grandstands open at 5 p.m. PDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information on the event, visit www.thunderbowlraceway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this week’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 as he does at all WoO Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. 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 /Chevy Maxim:
After a two-week break in the action, you were able to score a pair of podium finishes last week. Do you feel like you are heading in the right direction?
“We made some progress last week, but we’re still not quite where we want to be. These races are so tough to win when you don’t start right up front. Our qualifying at Las Vegas kind of put us in a bad spot, but we kept digging. There were a number of restarts and we just kept working our way closer. At Perris, we just couldn’t get to the guys who started on the front row. We have to get ourselves in the dash and get lucky with the draw. I felt good in the car so, hopefully, we’ll keep heading in that direction. If we do, our results should continue to improve.”
This week you return to the central valley in California for a pair of races at Thunderbowl Raceway. The previous races there have been highly entertaining. How much fun is it for you as a driver to race there?
“I love driving these Sprint cars anywhere I can. Tulare is definitively a place where things can change so quickly that you can be great at one end and then find yourself in trouble in the other. The track typically provides a couple of different lines so you can run high, low and oftentimes through the middle. The driver has a lot to think about in a short amount of time. It’s an exciting place, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to a couple of fun nights there.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevy J&J:
Through five races, the World of Outlaws have had five different winners. Are you surprised to see that many unique winners to start the season?
“I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised. We’ve had a lot of pretty good cars out here with us the last few years and everyone keeps getting their stuff better and better. I know there are a couple of guys who have been fast who haven’t won, so chances are there will probably be a few more winners here pretty quick. Right now, it seems like the biggest thing is where you start. So far, every race has been won from the front row. The key is to get into the dash and have the right pill drawn. If you can start up front, it’s pretty tough to get beat. Guys aren’t coming from 15th to win races. Yeah, you might see some guys start way back and work their way into the top-10, but there haven’t been a lot of guys
making a bunch of passes during green-flag laps. It seems like you see a lot of passing on restarts and after a couple of laps everyone just kind of gets in line. The key seems to be being at the front of the line from the start if you want to finish there.”
Knowing all of the races in 2012 have been won from the front of the field, how important will it be to start up front at a place like the Thunderbowl Raceway?
“I’d say it’s still going to be pretty important to be up front there, but things can change pretty quickly at Tulare. We’ve raced on a couple of half-mile tracks (Volusia Speedway Park and The Dirt Track at Las Vegas) where you aren’t into much lapped traffic. We’ll definitely be dealing with traffic at Tulare and luckily it’s usually one of those places where you can race all over the track. You’ll see slide jobs going on for positions, and guys swapping spots in each corner. The biggest thing is getting your car to operate well enough that you can run high, low or through the middle. You have to be able to go where the guy in front of you isn’t. We’ve had some good runs there in the past, including last year when we finished up on the podium. We’ll need a good qualifying lap in order to have a chance.”