INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 31, 2011) – The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series season is a long and grueling journey that starts in February and ends in November. Over the course of the 10-month season, drivers and teams are put in numerous situations that test every aspect of their competitive spirit. After a weekend in oil-rich Edmonton, Alberta, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz will venture to the great Northwest for three nights of racing over the Labor Day weekend. The action begins with races at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash., on Friday and Saturday nights and concludes Monday with an event at Cottage Grove (Ore.) Speedway.
Skagit Speedway is nearly 2,900 miles from The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of the WoO season-ending World Finals. During the 61 days between Friday’s opener at Skagit and the qualifying night of the World Finals, TSR’s Kinser, driver of the No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, and Schatz, who pilots the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, have some catching up to do if they hope to unseat Jason Meyers as WoO champion. Starting this weekend, the tandem that’s earned a combined 24 WoO championships has 15 nights of action to close the gap in the standings, and their recent results prove the possibility does exist. Schatz, who ranks second and trails Meyers by 87 points, has five top-two finishes in his last nine starts, including a momentum-building fifth Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals victory on Aug. 13. Kinser, who trails the leader by 107 points and ranks third, has four podium finishes in the last five WoO races that include a pair of victories.
“The King of the Outlaws” was the winner the last time the Outlaws circled Skagit. The $20,000 triumph was Kinser’s 560th career WoO A-Feature win and his first A-Feature victory at the 3/10-mile, high-banked clay oval. Kinser started on the pole and out-dueled Joey Saldana for the win. The Bloomington, Ind., racer has started 16 races at Skagit and finished inside the top-10 on 12 occasions.
Schatz is looking to earn his first A-Feature victory at Skagit when he makes his 12th appearance at the track. After finishing third in his debut in August 2002, he won a preliminary feature in August 2006. Last year, he charged from ninth to third in the opener and was the fastest qualifier in the finale before being involved in an accident during the 40-lap A-Feature.
On Monday, the Outlaws make their annual stop at Cottage Grove Speedway. The picturesque drive into the quarter-mile, dirt oval, which is nestled underneath the tall pine trees of Oregon, is one of the most scenic on tour. The WoO races staged at the track through the years have been pretty memorable, as well. The track was the site of Schatz’s first WoO A-Feature win back in August of 1998. The Fargo, N.D., resident had recently celebrated his 21st birthday and really celebrated after beating WoO veterans Kinser and Sammy Swindell to the finish line. Since that night, he has been remarkably fast around the bullring. In 2007, he charged from 14th to second and, in 2008, he won for the second time at the track. In 2009, he raced from 20th to third and, last year, came from the back of the pack after being involved in a lap-five accident and finished second.
Kinser also has some good memories of the action at Cottage Grove. In August 2004, he battled his 19-year-old son Kraig for the victory. The win for Kraig Kinser was his first-ever Outlaw triumph and duplicated a one-two father-son finish Steve Kinser had with his father, Bob, in Kokomo, Ind., early in his career. Since that runner-up finish, Steve Kinser has posted three top-10s, including eighth-place finishes the last two seasons.
Last week, Schatz kicked off the action by leading every lap of the A-Feature at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D. The four-time WoO champion qualified second both nights at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton. On Friday night, he finished second to Meyers in the 30-lap A-Feature and, on Saturday night, he raced past Kinser for the lead on lap 20 of the 35-lap A-Feature and led for the next dozen laps before being struck by a lapped car as he tried to avoid another accident. The STP crew made repairs and Schatz finished 10th, but the team felt like it missed a golden opportunity, not only at win number seven on the season, but also a chance to gain ground on Meyers, who finished 11th.
Kinser finished second to Schatz at Black Hills to start the week and then had his ups and downs in Edmonton. On Friday night, he qualified sixth but was forced to start the main event 11th. He raced his way into the top-five and looked poised to earn a respectable finish before being caught up in an accident on a late restart. Saturday night, he qualified third, won the dash and led the first 19 laps of the main event before finishing third.
Friday and Saturday at Skagit, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. PDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call Skagit Speedway at (360) 724-3567 or visit www.skagitspeedway.com.
On Monday at Cottage Grove, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. PDT with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call Cottage Grove Speedway at (541) 942-7561 or visit www.cottagegrovespeedway.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:
Coming off your recent run of strong results and last year’s win at Skagit, you have to feel good about your chances this weekend?
“We’ve been a little better lately and that’s something to feel good about. Any time you lead a race and don’t win it, you are going to be a little bit unsatisfied. The Bass Pro Shops guys have done a great job the last few weeks and our finishes are getting better. Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue being a factor every night. Last year, we were competitive in both races at Skagit and got out of there with a win. We’d sure like to have that happen again.”
You are in the midst of one of the longest periods of the season where you are out on the road. Is that a good thing for you?
“I really enjoy the traveling part of this deal. It’s always what I’ve done for as long as I can remember. You leave Knoxville and head west for a month or longer. We used to go to Montana and then Washington, Oregon and be in California for a month. It’s a little different now. We hit North Dakota for a week, then Canada and then Washington. This is a time to have some family time. Kraig is out here racing. Stevie, Mikey and the baby are out here with us. We race on the weekends and then travel and have some fun during the week. Once you start heading back toward home, you know the season only has a few weeks left. This has always been a fun part of the year for me.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Luck is part of racing and, last Saturday, you found yourself the victim of some bad luck. How frustrating was Saturday’s result?
“Well, we were leading the race with only a handful of laps to go and I felt pretty good about our chances. Winning is a really big deal to us. It would have been nice for everyone on the STP team to leave Edmonton with a win. The travel would have been a little easier this week, but that’s racing. Just like the problem we had at Huset’s a couple of weeks ago. We had a freak part failure and it ended our night. That could’ve happened at the Nationals just as easily. So, yeah, we’re not happy about losing a race because of something that was out of our control, but the 14 car (Jason Meyers) had the same thing happen to them while they were running second. You just hope your good luck is more frequent than your bad. These guys have been giving me an incredibly fast car the past few weeks, and we’re going to keep plugging away and see if we can pick up a few more wins.”
With only 17 races left in the season, what sort of goals are you hoping to accomplish?
“The same goals we had to start the season. We want to win the championship. One of our goals was to win the Knoxville Nationals and we were able to do that. In order to win the championship, we’ve got to keep winning races. When we finish this western swing, we’ll have about a dozen races left and it’ll be a fight to the finish. The key is seeing if we can make things a little more interesting in the next six races. If we can win a couple of them and finish right near the front in the others, maybe things will be a little different in the standings. I know, the last few years, these races out here have been a turning point. We made some momentum at Cottage Grove in our last two championship years in 2008 and 2009 and Jason (Meyers) made a big push in California last year. We still have a lot to accomplish and getting out of Skagit with the $20,000 check would be a great start.”
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.