STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ Short Track Doubleheader Up Next for Tony Stewart Racing INDIANAPOLIS (April 14, 2010) -- With the warmer-than-normal weather in the Midwest, it's beginning to feel more like summer than spring, and this weekend's...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
Short Track Doubleheader Up Next for Tony Stewart Racing
INDIANAPOLIS (April 14, 2010) -- With the warmer-than-normal weather in the Midwest, it's beginning to feel more like summer than spring, and this weekend's traditional World of Outlaws (WoO) doubleheader at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway and I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., will likely produce the sizzle of a summer classic. The draw to the Outlaws' nomad-like schedule is that its stars, like Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teammates Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, are faced with new challenges each night. The Outlaws' 2010 season has gotten off to a very competitive start and, whether they're racing on a high-banked, 3/8-mile dirt oval or battling it out on a slick, quarter-mile bullring, the final outcomes have not been lacking in variety.
Following last weekend's wild adventure in Oklahoma, both TSR teams are ready to resume action this weekend. Last Saturday's race at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Okla., kicked off 27 consecutive weekends of racing for the traveling Sprint car heroes, and the demanding schedule each year is typically what separates the contenders from the pretenders. Twenty-time WoO champion Steve Kinser, who drives the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, and four-time and reigning WoO champion Donny Schatz, pilot of the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J, each rely on championship-caliber crews that are battle tested to keep them performing at their peak.
A strong performance is going to be required from both TSR drivers on Friday night as the Outlaws return to Paducah International Raceway for the series' sixth appearance at the track owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup stars Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Ken Schrader. The track has produced exciting races during the previous five visits resulting in five different drivers earning wins at the high-banked 3/8-mile dirt oval.
Kinser and Schatz are both looking to score their first win in Paducah, and previous results at the facility would indicate each is on the cusp. Kinser first circled the track in May 1982, scoring a second-place finish in a United States Auto Club event. He has four top-four finishes in five WoO starts, including a second in June 2001 and, most recently, a fourth last April. Schatz finished second in the 2009 race and earned the fast qualifier award in July 2008.
Saturday's race in suburban St. Louis marks the second consecutive event, where the Outlaws will visit the track partly owned by Schrader. The Missouri native is a partner with Ray Marler at I-55 and, through the years, the high-banked 1/3-mile oval has produced some of the most entertaining feature events of the year. This year's first of two stops in Pevely will be the 32nd Outlaws event at the track. In the first 31, 19 different drivers have gone to victory lane, including 13 in the past 15. Kinser won consecutive WoO A-Features at I-55 in the fall of 1987 and spring of 1988, counting for two of his five triumphs at the track (three WoO A-Features, two WoO preliminary features). His most recent victory came in April 2003, when he led all 40 laps. Schatz's only triumph at the track also came in flag-to-flag fashion when he dominated the Outlaws April Fool's Day event in 2006. Since 2001, he has been extremely consistent, finishing inside the top-eight in 14 of 16 races.
Through 10 nights of action in the 2010 WoO campaign, Kinser ranks second and Schatz fourth in the championship standings. Kinser, who has one victory in 2010, was leading during the latter stages of last Saturday's feature when he lost a right-rear tire. He did manage to finish ninth, his ninth top-10 finish in the first 10 races. Schatz had a strong evening going at Tri-State until he lost a right-rear tire while running third with only four laps remaining. His sixth-place finish at Tri-State was his seventh top-six finish of the season. Kinser trails current WoO point leader Jason Meyers by 24 points, while Schatz is 70 markers back.
For Friday's event at Paducah International Raceway, the pit gates will be open throughout the day while the grandstands open at 5 p.m. CDT. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For more details, contact Paducah International Raceway at (270) 898-7469 or visit the track's official Web site at www.paducahracing.com.
Saturday at I-55 Raceway, the pit gates and the grandstands will open at 2 p.m. CDT. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact I-55 Raceway by calling (636) 479-3219 or visit the official Web site of I-55 Raceway at www.I55raceway.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:
The schedule finally becomes "normal" this weekend with back-to-back races. Are you excited about getting back to the racetrack?
"Yes. I know I'm a little tired of just being around the shop and not racing. Getting back to the track is probably the best thing for all of us right now. We started with a lot of races in Florida and then had a string of weekend events before having a couple weeks off. I can only play so much golf to keep me occupied. The Bass Pro Shops crew (crew chief Scott Gerkin, crewmen Gary DuBois and Travis LoGrande) has been busy getting us ready to hit the road and do some racing.
"We've been really fast on the track. I'm really happy with the way our car has been operating. We've had a couple races get away from us, and that's kind of pushing us right now. We're excited about getting a couple of nights in this weekend."
You've mentioned that your short-track program isn't quite as strong as what you've got for the big tracks. This weekend, you'll have a pair of smaller tracks to race on. Do you feel like you've made progress that will help you this weekend?
"I hope so. We've made a lot of laps at Pevely and, actually, we ran well at Bulls Gap and last weekend at tracks that both had some banking to them. Paducah is really banked so, hopefully, we'll be able to have the kind of success we're looking for. We just want to get racing. Like I said, we're just excited to be able to go out and hopefully have a good couple of nights and continue to get better."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
It's back to somewhat business-as-usual for you this weekend, having two races in two states. When you race at different places on consecutive nights, is it difficult to change your approach?
"The approach is always the same and that's to find a way to have your car working the best at the end of the night so you can have a chance to win the race. In dirt-track racing, you could be at the same place on consecutive nights and the track can be totally different. So, every night is different. There are some things that remain the same from night to night but, for the most part, we treat each night like a new night and see where we need to go.
"The biggest key is having a team around you that can adapt to anything. We've raced with the Outlaws for a long time and everyone who is part of this Armor All/STP crew (crew chief Rick Warner, crewmen Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) has logged the miles and been through it all.
"This weekend, racing at Paducah and then Pevely, is one that has been on the schedule for the last few years, and I don't think we've gotten both nights in, yet. One year it was super cold, and then we had rain problems. Hopefully, this weekend, Mother Nature is a race fan and we can go out and have two good shows."
This season has been a little crazy from the beginning, and last weekend was just another example of that. It's been a long time since you were involved in a tire-conservation type of race. You obviously weren't the only one in that predicament, but yet you managed to still finish in the top-six. When did you change strategy during the race?
"The positive of the night is that we felt pretty good getting around the track for most of the night. We were able to win our heat and dash. In the dash, some places on the track started taking rubber, so we were pretty sure the surface was going to get pretty abrasive. Craig (Dollansky) got me on the start, but we were able to drive back by him on the second lap, so I knew we were in a pretty good spot. When everybody moved to the bottom and in the rubber, we just tried to pick our spots and hope that he'd get hung up in traffic.
"There, towards the end, a lot of guys started stopping with tire issues. When we had a red flag, my guys told me that I didn't have much tread left. From there, I simply tried to hang on. I mean, there were only five laps to go and usually it doesn't end up being the marathon that it was. On the restarts, Paul (McMahan) got me, and then Steve (Kinser) got me the next time. On the third or fourth restart, the tire let go.
"It's not the first time the guy who loses his tire first ends up winning, but when you are running right up front, you are kind of hoping the tire will hang in there. It's frustrating, but it's also behind us. All we can do is look ahead to Paducah and Pevely. I haven't won at Paducah and haven't won enough at Pevely, so maybe we can change all that this weekend."