INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 8, 2011) – The chase to a championship is never easy. With less than 15 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series races remaining in 2011, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz both know it’s going to take a strong finish in order to capture one of motorsports’ most difficult crowns. Kinser, a 20-time WoO champion, and Schatz, a four-time WoO titlist, find themselves chasing 2010 WoO champion Jason Meyers down the stretch and each looks at this weekend’s races in California as an opportunity to close the gap.
On Friday and Saturday night, the Outlaws will return to Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico and then make their first-ever appearance at Antioch Speedway on Monday night. Silver Dollar will host the Outlaws for the 58th annual Gold Cup Race of Champions festivities, recognized as the biggest Winged Sprint car event on the West Coast. Kinser, who will pilot the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, is chasing his 13th career Gold Cup title while Schatz, who’ll drive the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, is looking to become a two-time winner in the prestigious event. Kinser travels to Chico on a roll following consecutive second-place finishes in WoO action. Since the 51st annual Goodyear Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals, “The King of the Outlaws” has finished in the top-three in seven of eight races. The run started when he scored consecutive wins at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., and Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D., to give him 568 career WoO A-Feature triumphs. He ranks third in the WoO championship chase and currently trails Meyers by 80 points. The Bloomington, Ind., native won the Gold Cup at Chico the first two times he raced on the quarter-mile dirt oval in northern California in 1978 and 1979, and he has been a force at the event the last three decades. In 1983 and 1984, he won back-to-back Gold Cups again and, between 1986 and 1988, he scored three more. He won the race again in 1990 and 1992 and, a decade later, won consecutive Gold Cups in 2002 and 2003. His most recent Gold Cup win came in 2005, the season he won his 20th WoO crown. In last year’s Gold Cup opener, he charged into the lead early in the feature only to have a right-rear wheel break, which resulted in an accident and 24th-place finish. The setback made the 40-lap finale more difficult, but in true Kinser fashion, he charged from 18th to finish second. Schatz also returns to California with momentum. Since his victory at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway to begin August, the Fargo, N.D., racer has shown signs of returning to his championship form. His charge from 13th to first in the Knoxville Nationals was followed by a flag-to-flag victory at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D. His consecutive top-five finishes last weekend in the great northwest allowed him to close to within 75 points of leader Meyers. In March’s Mini Gold Cup, Schatz raced to victory in the dash before chasing Craig Dollansky for 30 laps to finish second in the A-Feature. He won the second feature in last year’s three-night Gold Cup and finished fifth in the 40-lap finale. The win was his first since dominating the 2004 Gold Cup Race of Champions. In that event, he led all 30 laps of his preliminary feature and all 40 in the Gold Cup. Following the weekend in Chico, the TSR teams will travel to the Bay Area where they’ll make their debut at Antioch Speedway on Monday night. Earlier in the season, the Outlaws competed at another California bullring for the first time when they raced at Merced Speedway. Schatz finished fifth at Merced while Kinser came home 10th. Each is hoping to become the Outlaws’ first winner at the 3/8-mile clay oval. For both races at Silver Dollar Speedway, 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 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call Silver Dollar Speedway at (916) 969-7484 or visit www.silverdollarspeedway.com. On Monday at Antioch Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 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 the track at (925) 779-9220 or visit www.antiochspeedway.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: Since the Knoxville Nationals, you have been the most consistent driver on the Outlaws tour. Do you have enough races left to win that coveted 21st WoO title? “You never know. We’ve been running really well, lately, but those races where we crashed out of or had other problems are really coming back to bite us right now. Jason (Meyers) is running pretty consistently, so it’s going to take something special for us to win another championship. Since the Nationals, we’ve been right there just about every night. We had one little problem there in Edmonton but, other than that, we’ve been right there. If we can have three more good nights in California, who knows, maybe we’ll come back to the Midwest with a fighting chance. At this point in the year, that’s all you can ask for.” For a lot of years, the Gold Cup was a race you dominated. Last year, despite having two bad nights during the qualifying programs, you were able to race to second in the finale. Does that give you extra confidence heading into the weekend? “Well, the Bass Pro Shops guys gave me a great car in the final night last year and we were able to run right to the front. Who knows, maybe a few more laps, we could have tried to pass Jason (Meyers), but getting there was good for us. That’s kind of been how we’ve worked the last few weeks. I’ve had a really fast car every night and I expect that to continue in Chico. It’s been a while since we’ve won there, and that’s something we’d like to change this weekend. ” Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J: The last few times you’ve raced at Silver Dollar Speedway, you have been very successful. Does recent success at a track help your chances this weekend? “In the last few years, we’ve gotten our short-track program better. When you look at the fact that we’ve had three or four wins on quarter-mile tracks this year, it should tell you something about how we’ve improved that part of our program. We’ve always been pretty good on the big tracks and struggled on the smaller ones. It’s nice to see that change a little bit. I’d say the recent finishes we’ve had at Chico were a result of hard work and finding a combination that works for me there. So we aren’t guaranteed anything when we get there this weekend, but we do have a good starting point to see if we can continue to challenge for wins there.” In 2004, you dominated the Gold Cup weekend, leading all 70 laps you competed in. What would it take to repeat that performance? “Things were different back in 2004. We had a good western swing run going with the Outlaws and things just kind of worked out in our favor. We timed just right, won our heat and made a move in the dash that pretty much set up our entire weekend. The format this year has been changed in that it’s just a couple of regular programs, so it goes back to the basics. We have to qualify well, get ourselves in the dash and start close enough to the front in the feature to be a factor. Winning Friday has no effect on Saturday this year. Back in 2004, we won Friday’s race and it put us up front on Saturday. No matter what happens Friday, we’ll have to do all the same things Saturday in order to have a chance at winning. I’d really like a repeat of 2004, but we’ll just get there Friday night and see what we can do.” 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. Visit www.trackerboats.com Resort Group – Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. Visit www.bigcedar.com for more information. -www.TonyStewartRacing.com-