INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 21, 2012) – It’s been said that some of the most rewarding moments occur during the journey toward the ultimate destination. There’s something about bonding as a unit and experiencing what it takes to become a champion. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) possesses a pair of decorated champions in Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz. Standing alongside them are team members who have journeyed with them through almost every possible situation at dirt tracks across the country.
With only nine races remaining in the 2012 World of Outlaws (Woo) Sprint Car Series, it’s championship time as the ultimate prize is within sight. This weekend, Schatz and Kinser will continue their quest to become Outlaw champions, first Friday at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, then Saturday at the Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.
The return to Eldora opens the track’s annual celebration of open-wheel cars known as the 4-Crown Nationals. The Outlaws will stage a complete show Friday, and Saturday the track hosts the United States Auto Club (USAC) with Midgets, Sprint cars and Silver Crown cars.
Schatz will lead the Outlaws back to Eldora for their fifth race of the season at the famed high-banked, half-mile dirt oval. The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J comes in as one of the hottest Sprint car competitors in the country. He leads the Outlaws championship chase thanks to an incredible seven-week stretch that has included eight victories, 14 top-two finishes, and 21 top-fives in 23 races. Among those victories was his sixth Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals triumph, his first-ever win in his hometown of Minot, N.D., and a pair of wins in California. The consistency has allowed him to turn a 44-point deficit into a 96-point advantage as he chases his fifth WoO title.
Twenty-time WoO champion Steve Kinser is looking forward to returning to Eldora and Lernerville, tracks where he’s posted some incredible wins during his illustrious career. Kinser, pilot of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, has won 41 of his 573 career WoO A-Feature victories on the famous Eldora half-mile and a victory Friday would help turn the tide of his recent results. “The King of the Outlaws” has been finishing inside the top-10 consistently but hasn’t been to victory lane since June.
Kinser won his first-ever World of Outlaws race at Eldora in May 1978 and is also a former winner in the 4-Crown, claiming both the Sprint car and Silver Crown race in the early 1980s. His most recent victory at the “Big E” came in dramatic fashion as he made a final-lap pass of Kerry Madsen to score his seventh career Kings Royal in July 2010. This season, he’s posted four top-10s at Eldora, including a third-place finish in May and charging from 24th to 10th in July’s Kings Royal.
A win at Eldora for Schatz would be a good sign in his run to a WoO title. The Fargo, N.D., native won feature events at Eldora in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and went on to win the WoO title each season. He first competed at the track in the 1996 Kings Royal and scored his first win at the facility in the $100,000-to-win Historical Big One in August 2002. Winning the 2007 Kings Royal propelled him toward a second straight WoO title and wins in May of 2008 and 2009 allowed Schatz to seize the points lead those years. This season, he has been a passing machine at the track. In all four 2012 races, he has passed at least 10 cars during the feature events – May 4, he started 12th and finished second; May 5, he started 24th and finished sixth; July 13, he started 25th and finished 14th; July 14, he started 21st and finished eighth. His goal Friday is to start within in the top-10 and potentially challenge for his first win there since July 2009.
Kinser’s 17 WoO Lernerville wins tops all drivers who will be in action Saturday. The Bloomington, Ind., native first won at the 4/10-mile dirt oval when the Outlaws debuted there in August 1979. And he’s scored several more big wins there, including the 40th annual Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup in 2008. Last fall, he finished seventh in the Commonwealth Clash and, earlier this year, he raced from 10th to finish fourth in the Silver Cup.
Schatz has earned multiple victories at Lernerville during his 16-year WoO career. He won his first WoO race at the track in May 2003 and scored consecutive wins in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup in 2006 and 2007. The late-season stop at Lernerville has been productive for the STP driver in recent years. Two years ago, he took the lead from Paul McMahan midway through the 35-lap race and went on to score the victory. Last year, he stalked Jason Meyers for most of the race before coming home second. And second is where he finished in the Outlaws’ most recent race at Lernerville in July as he followed his boss Stewart across the finish line.
Friday at Eldora, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 2:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (937) 338-3815 or visit www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
Saturday at Lernerville, the pit gates will open at 4 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (724) 353-1511 or visit www.lernerville.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 as he does at all WoO Sprint 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/Chevrolet Maxim:
It’s back to Eldora for another shot on the high banks. What are you looking forward to most about Friday’s race at Eldora?
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the track. Eldora has been such a big part of my career. I look forward to any chance I get to race there. We haven’t been running like we’d hope to be right now, so maybe getting back there will be something positive. It seems like we’ve had just about every bad break possible the last two months. I’m hoping we can get on the good side of the breaks and be competitive Friday. I’ll tell you there is nothing better than winning at Eldora. It’s such a tough place and, when you get to end your night on that stage, it’s a tremendous feeling.”
With only nine races left in the season, every race is important as you jockey for position in the final standings. Does it help that you’ll be racing at tracks where you’ve had a lot of success to finish the season?
“We just have to get going better and the points stuff will take care of itself. It’d take something crazy for us to get back into contention for the championship and, honestly, we have to start racing better. Our entire night has to go better. Going to familiar tracks should help some, but it starts with having a good qualifying run and then being able to make it through the heat race. These races now are really hard to win from seventh on back, so you have to get yourself in those first three rows, somehow. ”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
The 2012 season has been a wild ride, for sure, but these last 20 races have been much more consistent. How important has that been during your move to retake the top spot in the standings?
“Consistency is always important but winning is what makes the difference. I’ve always said the guy who wins the most races is the one who has the best chance to win the championship. Sammy (Swindell) has 12 wins and we have 10, so we still have some work to do there. Being in a position to win races the last few months has been huge, but we’ve also made some runs from farther back. Last week, we won at Clay County Fair Speedway from seventh and raced from 17th to the lead at Deer Creek Speedway before finishing second. Our goal is to race for wins every night and the fact we’ve been able to be in contention is probably the biggest reason we have worked our way back into the lead.”
This weekend, you’ll have the chance to race at Eldora and Lernerville. Both tracks have been places where you’ve been strong during your career. What is going to be the key to returning to victory lane at each?
“The key for both is having a car you can maneuver around the track and I’d say, in the last 20 races, the STP guys have done a great job of getting me something I can drive anywhere on the track. At Eldora, you have to be good up on the wall, but also need to be able to move around. We’ve driven past some of the best there when the cushion is all the way up on the wall and you can get the leaders in traffic. Same way with Lernerville, it’s a fast place and, if you can have a car that works on both the top and bottom and even sometimes through the middle, your chances really improve. I’m really excited about getting back to both tracks. We’ve been good there in the past but, recently, we haven’t been as good as we needed to be. I think this weekend we’re really going to have a package competitive enough to be in the mix. As a driver, that’s all you can ask for.”
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.