BARBERVILLE, Fla. - Feb. 16, 2014 - Steve Kinser might be winding down his career this season with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series, but on Sunday night at the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment Kinser was wound up in a huge victory celebration after he won a thriller in front of a packed house at Volusia Speedway Park.
Kinser showed his competitive fire still burns when he and defending series champion Daryn Pittman waged an incredible duel over the final eight laps before Kinser slid to the lead and grabbed the checkered flag for the 577th feature victory in his hall-of-fame career.
"I didn't know where to go on the restart and I decided to take the top line and just carry some speed and just have it," said Kinser, 59, of Bloomington, Ind. "He beat me out of there and it was a good race. You hate to lose one on the restart. I didn't think anyone could pass me when I had a clear track. It doesn't matter, we got the win that's all that counts."
Pittman held on to finish second with Donny Schatz, Saturday's DIRTcar Nationals winner, in third and Friday's winner, Brad Sweet, in fourth. Tim Kaeding earned the KSE hard charger award after charging from his 12th to finish fifth.
Pittman started on the pole, but Bronson Maeschen flipped in turn four before a lap could be completed to force a complete restart. Pittman jumped to the lead on the restart with Kinser in tow. Caution flew on lap four for Cody Darrah as he rolled to a stop in turn one.
Pittman chose the bottom on the restart, and as the pair drag raced down the front stretch Kinser took led the lap by a car length. Kinser stretched the lead over the next several laps before entering lap traffic on lap 8. Kinser picked his way through traffic with a healthy lead until caution flew on lap 22 for a spinning Christopher Bell.
The caution initiated the eight lap battle between Kinser and Pittman that would eventually decide the event.
"It felt good, we got her rolling out there and she was a pleasure to drive," said Kinser, also known as the King of the Outlaws. "I could hit the choppy stuff and get through it, and that's where I've been struggling. A bump in turn four bounced us around quite a bit, but it was keeping the car in the right spot. It would get bouncing then jumping out of there. It was a solid weekend and we had a bad run the first night. This is just one night, things change around this stuff real quick."
Pittman finished the season-opening three race segment with two top-five's and a quick time, and on Sunday night he raced Kinser hard and clean to bring the capacity crowd to its feet.
"That was a hell of a race, I had fun, hats off to the king," said Pittman, a native of Owasso, Okla. "You know he's hungry, he always is. He's not going to give me an inch and he doesn't expect you to give him one either. I'll run this through my head probably a hundred times before I go to sleep. This car is too good not to win a race."
After winning on Saturday night in the STP/Armor All Tony Stewart Racing car, Schatz was strong again on Sunday, finishing third.
"It was the best we could do," said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. "There was a pretty good race in front of us and we were about the same speed, but we couldn't hit traffic right to get in there. It feels good to be running good and we'll keep plugging along and trying to win races."
Schatz knows Kinser is still looking for wins.
"Anybody who ever counts him out is a fool," he said. "He's still got that burning desire, and watching him go after it was pretty fun."
Paul McMahan won the overall event championship and is taking home the Big Gator after a consistent week that included feature finishes of second-, fourth- and seventh-place behind the wheel of the CJB Motorsports GF1. Points were awarded for qualifying, heat races and feature finishes.
"You know this is pretty cool, all weekend long all I wanted is to get me a gator and I'm taking daddy home," said McMahan, a California native who now resides near Nashville. "It's a big confidence booster leaving here running well all week. This is a big wild card coming down here because you can be really good or really bad real easy. We'll take home another top-10 and head to the next race in Vegas."
McMahan and Pittman currently sit atop the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car championship with 434 points. Pittman's KKR teammate Sweet is only two points back in third.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series has a short break as the drivers take off across the country and head to Las Vegas for the FVP Outlaw Showdown on March 5-6 to kick off the Sprint Break Tour.