INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 28, 2003 -- Steve Kinser is just 13 victories away from a remarkable 500 wins on the O'Reilly World of Outlaws sprint-car circuit, but he considers himself an underdog Aug. 2 in the True Value International Race of ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 28, 2003 -- Steve Kinser is just 13 victories away from a remarkable 500 wins on the O'Reilly World of Outlaws sprint-car circuit, but he considers himself an underdog Aug. 2 in the True Value International Race of Champions season finale at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"It's a little tough," he said. "You don't get a whole lot of seat time in the stock cars. We get quite a bit of time at Daytona and Talladega between those two races. And the cars there are a little easier to drive than they are on the flat tracks.
"When you get on a flat track (such as Indy) where you're on and off the gas a little bit, and you don't have a whole lot of time to catch a practice and things, it's quite a bit of an advantage to be a stock car driver then."
The IROC at Indy event is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (EST, Indy time) Saturday, Aug. 2.
After the first three IROC races this season, Kinser and fellow WoO driver Danny Lasoski are ranked 10th and ninth, respectively, among the 12 IROC competitors. Kinser finished sixth in the season opener in February at Daytona International Speedway, was ninth in April at Talladega and then fell out in last place with mechanical problems earlier this month at Chicagoland Speedway.
This is Kinser's fourth year competing in the IROC series, racing's "all-star game." He shocked everyone April 30, 1994, when he won the IROC race at Talladega in only his third start. It was the first IROC victory by a driver outside of NASCAR, Indy-style racing or road-racing categories.
What makes this year special is that this race returns Kinser, a resident of Bloomington, Ind., to the Speedway.
In 1997, he qualified for the Indianapolis 500 in his only attempt at the world-famous track. And he was running a solid race, holding down ninth place with 12 laps to go, when he was involved in a Turn 4 accident with Lyn St. James.
"I always enjoy it to be able to come up to the Speedway and run, especially being that close to home," he said. "It's always a pleasure.
"We were running pretty good. We didn't have a lot of spare parts, but everybody did a good job. I knocked the nose off. We had a car that was going to run close to the top anyway."
Kinser said it's a good feeling for him to drive down the main straight in front of all those fans.
"It's just nice to get to say you've got to go around in the Indianapolis 500 in an Indy car plus in a stock car, too," Kinser said. "It's a very special place for any kind of a driver. To me, Indianapolis is the greatest racing circuit there is."
Kinser and Lasoski are in a torrid battle for the WoO championship that Kinser has won an incredible 17 times, including last season. Heading into this week's races in Pennsylvania, Lasoski leads Kinser by 39 points.
"We've been going back and forth all year," Kinser said. "It looks like just what we'll be going through the rest of the year. It looks like it's going to be a battle down to the end. We've pretty well separated ourselves from everybody else. We've got quite a little going on ourselves."
Kinser said he and Lasoski like to carry their rivalry to the IROC series and have fun trying to outrun each other on the track. But because of their experience disadvantage, they try to practice drafting and tactics together when they are on the track.
"We get a lot of help from Jim Sauter, Dick Trickle, Dave Marcis, all the test drivers," Kinser said. "Like I said, when you get on a track where you're on and off the gas, and you're not used to running stock cars and stuff, it's quite a bit of an advantage to the Winston Cup guys."
This is obvious when you take a glance at the point standings. Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch leads with 57 points, followed by Craftsman Truck driver Mike Bliss with 49. Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and Jimmy Johnson, all Winston Cup drivers, are next in line. Bringing up the rear are Lasoski, Kinser and IRL IndyCar^Ù Series drivers Scott Sharp (he replaced the injured Felipe Giaffone at Chicagoland and will race at Indy) and two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves.
The starting lineup Saturday will be reversed from the point standings thus putting Castroneves on the pole and Sharp beside him. Kinser and Lasoski fill the second row.
For Kinser, who turned 49 on June 3, IROC is icing on his racing career. It salutes him for his many achievements in his mostly dirt career, a career that he isn't ready to end yet.
"I still enjoy racing no matter what kind of race car it is," he said. "I enjoy running the sprint cars. I'm getting up there, but I'm going to run a few more years, though."
Tickets: Reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Brickyard 400 remain available. Tickets for the IROC at Indy race also are available. Tickets and parking can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.