2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Kraig Kinser Concord, NC-- November 21, 2008-- Kraig Kinser and his Tony Stewart Racing team never gave up in 2008, despite facing some tough times early in the season, and all of that constant hard work...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Kraig Kinser
Concord, NC-- November 21, 2008-- Kraig Kinser and his Tony Stewart Racing team never gave up in 2008, despite facing some tough times early in the season, and all of that constant hard work and determination paid off down the stretch as the team hit their stride and won twice in the second half of the 2008 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series campaign to wrap up their first year together. For Kinser, it was his first full year back in a sprint car since 2005.
The son of 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, wrapped up the season with 19 Top-10 finishes, with 10 of those being Top-Five performances, including wins at Grays Harbor Raceway in Washington and North Central Speedway in Minnesota. He was 12th in the final championship standings.
"We were very pleased with the end of the season," Kinser said. "We built some good momentum heading into the off-season and next year. We had such a good West Coast swing and were running strong prior to that. We tried a few things as well getting ready for next season. We ran a different car and the flat wing that we'll be running next season. We learned a lot and we'll work hard this winter and continue to get our cars better."
The team began to hit their stride in August, as Kinser picked up a season-best third-place finish at Nodak Speedway in North Dakota aboard the Bass Pro Shops Maxim. He carried that momentum into the annual Gold Rush Tour, where he picked up his first win of the season at Grays Harbor Raceway Park in Washington on September 1. He had to complete an extra lap in that event, as the caution flew on the white flag lap, and by way of World of Outlaws rules two consecutive green flag laps much be run to complete a race. One of the first people to congratulate him in victory lane was his father Steve, who finished third in the race.
"We had been running strong that whole month leading into that race and that really capped it off well," shared the 24-year old driver. "To have that win at Grays Harbor, a track where my good friend Fred Brownfield had his calling at, was unbelievable."
Kinser's strong late summer surge continued with a Top-10 run at Cottage Grove Speedway in Oregon. He finished a very strong fourth on the second preliminary night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California and followed that up with a Top-10 run in the finale of the famed event, in his first visit to the always racy ¼-mile in three years.
A return to the Midwest saw Kinser finish second to his teammate Donny Schatz at Clay County Fair Speedway in Iowa to record the first one-two finish of the year for Tony Stewart Racing. The World of Outlaws inaugural stop at Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri would net Kinser another Top-Five finish, as would a return to his boss's home track of Eldora Speedway the following week, as he picked up yet another Top-Five.
He would get his second win of the season in the series inaugural visit to North Central Speedway in Minnesota on a very chilly night, with his dad again joining him on the front straightaway. Another podium finish would follow at Heartland Park Topeka at the end of October.
"Everything got better," explained the third generation driver when asked about the second half of the season. "The driver got better. The car got better. We worked hard all season long. We were in big hole and just worked to claw our way out of it night in and night out. It's hard to do that on the road when you are racing every night. We made some changes and were able to work back. Everybody on both teams did an unbelievable job this year, with Donny (Schatz) winning the points (championship) and with our strong end to the season after such a hard beginning of the year."
Kinser capped the year off with a runner-up finish in the second annual VAULT World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, with Schatz winning, to pick up the second one-two finish of the season for Tony Stewart Racing. He and the team look to use all that they learned this season as they prepare in the off-season for another go around with the World of Outlaws in 2009.
"I definitely felt a lot better heading into the World Finals than I did heading into Knoxville," Kinser noted. "Hopefully we don't let up any this winter and keep doing what we can to get better."
With 17 teams finishing the season full-time with the World of Outlaws, the 2008 season was one of the most competitive in the 30-year history of the series. Kinser wrapped up the year among the Top-10 in laps led and he won the Crane Cams Dash twice to earn pole positions in A-Feature events.
"It was tough ten years ago and will be tough next year and is tough every year when you get to this level," he shared. "You race against the best sprint car drivers in the world all year and have to run against them night in and night out. It's always going to be tough. There are so many great race car drivers with the World of Outlaws. Nobody likes to lose and everyone races their guts out every time they are out on the track. You can't blink for one minute or this series will pass you by and leave you in the dust. We have to stay ahead of the curve."
The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.