The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series made its second stop north of the border this past weekend and the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) tandem of Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz made its presence known in the fifth annual Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta. Schatz, who has been very fast behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J since the calendar turned to August, was in contention for victory both nights only to come up one spot short on Friday and three laps short of victory on Saturday. Kinser, who came into the Oil City Cup with two wins and a runner-up finish in his previous three races, charged into the top-five Friday in the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/ Chevrolet Maxim before being involved in a late accident, then led the first 19 laps on Saturday before ultimately finishing third.
Friday’s race marked the ninth time the Outlaws have competed on the 3/8-mile dirt oval. Schatz began the weekend looking to win his second consecutive WoO A-Feature following his triumph at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D., on Tuesday evening. In qualifying, he turned the second-fastest lap in the field of 28 cars and then finished fourth in the second heat and fourth in the dash. The four-time WoO champion started the 30-lap A-Feature in the second row and spent the first 20 laps running inside the top-five. During the final 10 laps, he found the middle groove and worked his way up to second behind Jason Meyers. Two late restarts gave him a chance at victory before Schatz would earn his sixth runner-up finish of 2011. Kinser qualified fifth and his third-place finish in heat two earned “The King of the Outlaws” a sixth-row starting spot in the A-Feature. The Bloomington, Ind., native raced his way into sixth during the first half of the race, but contact following a late restart sent him flipping. The Bass Pro Shops crew made repairs before Kinser would finish 15th.
The Oil City Cup finale offered both Schatz and Kinser another opportunity to claim victory on Canadian soil. Schatz again timed in second with Kinser turning the third-best qualifying lap. Schatz finished fourth in both the second heat and dash while Kinser finished third in heat three and then dominated the dash to earn his fourth pole starting position of the season. The 20-time WoO champion took command at the drop of the green flag in the 35-lap A-Feature. He led the first 19 laps before being passed by Schatz in lapped traffic. During the next 10 laps, Kinser stayed within striking distance of Schatz while battling Cody Darrah for the second spot. Schatz looked poised to win his second race at Castrol when disaster struck with only three laps remaining. A pair of lapped cars were involved in a crash directly in front of Schatz, whose car sustained damage and was forced to give up the lead while the STP crew made repairs. Kinser tried to retake the lead from Darrah on the final restart but would end up third behind Darrah and Brad Sweet. Schatz finished 10th.
The frustrating results for Schatz slowed his progress in closing in on WoO points leader Meyers. Schatz continues to trail Meyers by 87 points with 16 events remaining on the 2011 schedule. He not only missed an opportunity to win another race, but also an opportunity to climb closer to the top spot. Through 47 races, Schatz has 6,238 points, six victories, 23 top-fives, and 39 top-10s. Kinser remains third, 107 behind Meyers, with 6,218 markers, seven wins, 23 top-fives, and 37 top-10s.
Next up for the TSR teams is the opener of the annual Gold Rush Tour at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash., on Friday, Sept. 2. Two nights of racing in the Seattle area culminates with a $20,000-to-win finale on Saturday night The touring Outlaws then travel south to Cottage Grove (Ore.) Speedway for a Labor Day special. Kinser won last year’s $20,000 finale at Skagit while Schatz put on an incredible show at Cottage Grove, racing from the back of the field to second in the 40-lap feature.