WOO

1996 season preview

Skoal Outlaw Series to Open '96 Season at St. Augustine ST. AUGUSTINE, FL (February 9) - A year ago, Skoal Outlaw Series racers were poised to become the next "King of the Outlaws." Fourteen- time series champion Steve Kinser was...

Skoal Outlaw Series to Open '96 Season at St. Augustine ST. AUGUSTINE, FL (February 9) - A year ago, Skoal Outlaw Series racers were poised to become the next "King of the Outlaws." Fourteen- time series champion Steve Kinser was racing on NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit, leaving the door to the World of Outlaws' throne room wide open. Although Kinser returned and quickly let it be known he is still "The King of the Outlaws," it was too late for him to claim the 1995 title. Dave Blaney edged Jac Haudenschild in one of the closest championship races in Skoal Outlaw Series history. Kinser, winner of the first main event the World of Outlaws ran at St. Augustine two years ago, is back. He turned down an offer by A.J. Foyt to drive for him in the Indy Racing League's inaugural season so he could devote himself to his #11 Quaker State Maxim and his pursuit of a 15th World of Outlaws championship. "Sprint car racing has always been number one to me," Kinser said of his decision. "I was just afraid that if I tried to run those five races - with everything that goes along with it - that it would hurt my sprint car team. So I just bowed out of it. "I enjoyed testing the (IRL) cars, but the number one thing to me is running my sprint car team. That's what we're focusing on, and we didn't want to interrupt that. We want to win us another World of Outlaws points championship." Blaney, who has also found time to race different kinds of cars in recent years, has a similar view. "The World of Outlaws is getting better and better," he said during the off-season. "With the increased television exposure, I don't see anything wrong with staying where I am and going for the title every year." Competition for the Skoal Outlaw Series title is expected to be as fierce as ever in 1996. Not only will "The Buckeye Bullet" have to battle the Kinser cousins - Steve and Mark - and "The Wild Child," Stevie Smith, Andy Hillenburg and the Swindell brothers - Sammy and Jeff - should contend for the champiof Outlaws trail with Gil Sonner matches a pair of previous Knoxville Raceway champions. Hodnett, the series' 1993 Rookie of the Year, will pilot the Fresno- based #11H owned by David Helm. At the same time, former Rookies of the Year Joe Gaerte and Aaron ted last year's season opener at St. Augustine. "The Dude" set the one-lap record, won the first Preliminary Feature and earned the pole position in all three programs. Mark took the early points lead by winning the second Preliminary Feature and the main event. This season, the Skoal Outlaw Series will offer more than $9 million in purses, contingencies and point fund awards while sanctioning 66 events at 47 tracks in 25 states. WoO

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