STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ High-Speed Drama Awaits Tony Stewart Racing Tandem in Tennessee INDIANAPOLIS (March 16, 2010) -- Ask most race fans the one place they'd like to see a NASCAR race and one of the more popular answers will be ...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
High-Speed Drama Awaits Tony Stewart Racing Tandem in Tennessee
INDIANAPOLIS (March 16, 2010) -- Ask most race fans the one place they'd like to see a NASCAR race and one of the more popular answers will be "Bristol." And why not. The track's size, which measures just over a half-mile, and degree of banking, estimated between 26 and 30 degrees, makes for some of the most action-packed racing of the season.
There must be something in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, because that same kind of action is expected Friday and Saturday in the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series doubleheader at Volunteer Speedway, located less than 60 miles from Bristol Motor Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. During the Outlaws' only previous appearance at the high-banked, 4/10-mile dirt oval in March 2007, the largest crowd ever to witness a race at the track saw a thriller that wasn't decided until the final corner.
Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser are returning to the high-speed facility with high expectations. Each has excelled throughout his career on the larger tracks and hopes that continues this weekend when he hits the track, which features 32 degree of banking in the corners. The track's shape encourages speed, as evidenced by the results from 2007, when the Outlaw Sprint cars turned laps under the 12-second barrier and the pole speed average speed was 123.119 mph.
In the Outlaws' debut at Volunteer Speedway, Schatz, who now pilots the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J, was a major player in the 35-lap A-Feature. He swapped the lead numerous times with eventual winner Joey Saldana before ultimately finishing third. The four-time and defending WoO champion has been victorious in the Volunteer State previously in his career, scoring a triumph on the "famous high-banks" of Bristol Motor Speedway. Twice, the concrete oval was covered with dirt to stage WoO events and, each time, Schatz was blazing fast. In June 2000, he finished second in the opening-night program and, the next night, he led the first 12 laps of the 30-lap race before a mechanical failure ended his shot at victory. The following June, he put on a thrilling charge, racing from his outside-fifth-row starting position to victory.
Kinser, who is in his first season as driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, is also a previous winner in Tennessee. He has won Outlaw feature races in western Tennessee at Memphis Motorsports Park, and twice in central Tennessee at Crossville Raceway and Tennessee Motor Speedway. The 20-time WoO champion's success on high-banked tracks began at the sport's signature high-banked track, Eldora Speedway. The track, now owned by Tony Stewart, was the site of his first career WoO win in May 1978 and he has since won 33 additional A-Features at the facility. Kinser is chasing his 554th WoO career A-Feature triumph this weekend at Volunteer.
The TSR tandem scored a pair of podium finishes last weekend as the Outlaws staged two races in Texas. Kinser finished second at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, on Friday night, and Schatz came home third at Houston Raceway Park on Saturday. Both drivers are looking for their second 2010 WoO A-Feature triumph of the season, and each would like add Volunteer Speedway to his track win list. Kinser has WoO wins at 131 different tracks and Schatz has won at 50.
With seven nights completed in the 72-race WoO campaign, Kinser ranks third and Schatz fifth in the 2010 championship standings. Kinser has six top-six finishes to start the season, and Schatz has five top-four finishes. Joey Saldana is the current WoO point leader with Jason Meyers trailing by 23 markers. Kinser is 25 back, Jason Sides trails by 38 and Schatz is 53 out of first.
For both events this weekend at Volunteer Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. EDT and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information on the event, contact the World of Outlaws by calling (704) 795-7223, or visit dirtcar.ticketforce.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend's races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, "Voice of the Outlaws," calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/J.D. Byrider Maxim:
This weekend marks the Outlaws' return to Volunteer Speedway. You've only raced there once, but have raced on many tracks with high banking during your career. What makes racing on those types of tracks exciting?
"The biggest thing we want is to have a good racetrack -- and I mean the surface itself -- that allows for some side-by-side racing. A lot of times, the big, high-banked places turn into a two-lane track because the top grove keeps getting moved up and usually the bottom or middle becomes a good place to race, also.
"We've seen it happen at places like Eldora, where guys just get up on the cushion and try to knock the wall down. Then, a second line kind of comes in and we get to where we can put slide jobs on guys to make passes. That's when it gets fun for the drivers and fans. You like to put on an exciting show and feel like you have a good chance at winning no matter where you start.
"We've got a really deep field with a lot of different winners already this year. As long as (the track) doesn't get knee deep in mud, and we can move up on the racetrack and use the whole track, it ought to be an exciting race."
For the third time this season, the Outlaws will be racing in the vicinity as the weekend's NASCAR race. Do you enjoy being able to compete at places where fans of other series can come see Outlaw cars in action?
"Yes, we do like racing in events like these. It's nice that a few times during a season we get to cross paths with those guys.
"Whether it's Florida, Las Vegas, Bristol or Charlotte, there are a lot of NASCAR fans who get a chance to see the best of both worlds -- watch those guys during the day and then come out and see us at night.
"It's fun for me to be able to race and have (team owner) Tony (Stewart) around. He was with us quite a few nights in Florida and then again in Las Vegas. Everybody who races with us likes to do well when some of those guys are around. I know it gives me a little more incentive."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
Throughout your racing career, you have had the chance to compete at a variety of places. You've said that winning at Bristol was something that you really enjoyed. With the series no longer competing there, this weekend's event at Volunteer Speedway might be the closest thing to Bristol. What would it mean to win this weekend?
"It would be special. We get excited about every win. The next win is always the most important one and that's kind of our mindset heading into the weekend.
"I'm not sure anything will be like Bristol, but the banking at Bulls Gap is pretty close. I remember people were doing a lot of things to their cars to go race at Bristol. We just put our regular car out there and went for it. It's funny, I was a lot younger back then, and we just approached it like Eldora. You had to get up on the racetrack to be fast, and I knew I was going to run the top at Bristol. Fortunately, we were able to win a race there before they ended that deal.
"I really enjoyed racing a Bulls Gap a few years ago. I didn't like the outcome, but we had a good showing. I know guys were racing high, middle and low and that's what the fans want to see."
The Outlaws' schedule has you racing at a variety of places and, most of the time, you are racing at a different track each night. What sort of strategy do you have when you're racing on consecutive nights at the same facility?
"The strategy is the same, for the most part. Do what you can to win the race. It starts by having a baseline to go off of. This Armor All team (crew chief Rick Warner, crewmen Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) will go back through our notes and get an idea of what we did at Bulls Gap in 2007 and determine a place to start on Friday night. Then, each time you hit the track, you try to learn something and keep getting your car closer to perfect.
"We did that in Florida. We just kept working on things. Down there, even (team owner) Tony (Stewart) would offer some things that he was seeing that helped. It's about communicating and figuring out a way to have the best car during the final laps of the race.
"This team is really good at that. We had a weekend last year at Lawrenceburg, Ind., where we were racing on a newly configured high-banked track. We started the weekend by qualifying fourth and finishing third in the feature the first night, and finished by qualifying first and winning the feature the final night. Everyone just kept working at it, and we continued to get better. That's what we have to do this weekend."