2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Steve Kinser Steve Kinser's success in sprint car racing is unmatched and continues to grow each season, yet after over 30 years in the sport, he still learns something new...
2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Steve Kinser
Steve Kinser's success in sprint car racing is unmatched and continues to grow each season, yet after over 30 years in the sport, he still learns something new each time he takes to the track or walks through the doors of his shop.
The 20-time Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion has spent the winter preparing for another run at the title this season behind the wheel of his famed No. 11.
Kinser spent a portion of the off-season competing in Australia during late December and early January. He opened 2008 with a win on New Year's Day at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway. For a majority of the races, he competed against fellow Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series drivers.
"It doesn't hurt anything, that's for sure," noted Kinser of his trip Down Under. "I enjoy getting to some warm weather. I'm really looking forward to going to Florida and getting started."
The 2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will open for the 20-time series champion on February 8 with the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. Kinser won at the half-mile in 2005 with the series. While there are over 80 races on the schedule after the opening three nights in the Sunshine State, it is the goal of every driver and team to open the season on a strong note and build momentum for the rest of the year.
"It means quite a bit," said the native of Bloomington, Indiana of running up front in Florida. "You want to get started in the first three or four races really well, and get yourself headed in the right direction. It is pretty important, and I would that is a big part of year. Last year we didn't get started off well and I would like to change that this year."
The Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will celebrate its 30th anniversary this season, and Kinser has been a part of most of those seasons. In that time, he has set the benchmark for sprint car racing. He has won 20 championships and enters this season with 543 career A-Feature wins. He has finished sixth of better in the point standings in 27 different seasons, and has been ninth or better, every season in which he competed with the series.
Having been around since the series inaugural campaign in 1978, Kinser has seen and been a part of the constant evolution of the sport.
"The times have changed quite a bit," he explained. "The depth of the cars no matter where you are at is better. There are so many teams that have good equipment. The rest of it is relatively still the same. The traveling is a big part of it, and trying to hang in there all year. There have been some things changed, like every night is now counted as a win. I feel it should have always been that way. It's was always just as hard to win a preliminary night as it was a final night."
This season, the 2005 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee, will have the chance to race against his son Kraig Kinser who will be part of a two-car effort for Tony Stewart Racing. The elder Kinser fielded a car for his son on the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series trail from 2004-2006, with the younger Kinser picking up seven A-Feature wins in that time, including the 2005 Knoxville Nationals, making them the first father/son duo in sprint car racing history to win the event.
"I always enjoy being around Kraig and any part of my family," he said. "I look forward to racing him as well. I wish him all the success with that race team and do anything I can to try and help him."
Kinser won 10 A-Feature events last season and 51 Top-10 finishes, en route to a sixth-place finish in the championship points. He was victorious at: USA Race Park in Arizona, Tri-State Speedway in Indiana, Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania, New Egypt Speedway in New Jersey, Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York, Sharon Speedway in Ohio, Missouri State Fair Speedway, Eldora Speedway, Castrol Raceway in Edmonton and at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I never really say that," said Kinser, of setting a goal of a certain number of wins prior to a season. "We weren't quite happy with last year. You want to come in the gate thinking you have a great chance, if not the best chance of anyone there that night. We weren't in that situation last year and we'll keep working to get back to where we feel we can get back to that situation."
Kinser begins this season in search of his 21st championship with the series and points out a couple of areas that are vital to running at the front of the field and being in contention. Late last season, his team tried a number of different set-ups and combinations, including running a new car in the inaugural Outlaws World Finals, where he was victorious in the final event of the season.
"We definitely have to be more consistent than last year," he stated. "We have to finish races and get a little faster than we were on top of that. It's a combination of being more consistent than last year and being faster as well."