Tony Stewart Racing, Kinser ReadyTo Kick Off 2009 Outlaws Campaign in Florida INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 2, 2009) --When the final checkered flag flew in the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series 2008 season last November, Tony Stewart Racing's...
Tony Stewart Racing, Kinser ReadyTo Kick Off 2009 Outlaws Campaign in Florida
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 2, 2009) --When the final checkered flag flew in the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series 2008 season last November, Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Kraig Kinser was feeling confident. Although Kinser would have liked to finish just in front of his TSR teammate Donny Schatz in the World Finals feature rather than in second place, he knows he's back at home in Sprint cars.
The 24-year-old will bring that swagger with him to Florida this week as he begins his second season behind the wheel of TSR's No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/JD Byrider Maxim. Kinser will compete in six consecutive nights at Volusia Speedway Park (VSP) in Barberville, Fla., all part of the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH festivities.
Following a two-year hiatus from Sprint cars, the Bloomington, Ind., native returned to his racing roots and completed his third full season with the WoO in 2008. Despite a slow start, which wasn't helped by a rash of early season rainouts, Kinser and the Bass Pro Shops team became regular contenders during the final two months of the season. Kinser picked up his eighth and ninth career WoO feature wins with triumphs at Grays Harbor Raceway Park in Elma, Wash. (Sept. 1), and North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minn. (Oct. 3). The team scored eight top-five finishes in the final 16 races, including the second-place finish in the season finale.
On Tuesday night, Kinser will be making his first All-Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) start since competing at VSP last February. He won his first career ASCoC feature at VSP on Feb. 10, 2005, out-dueling his dad, 20-time WoO champion Steve Kinser. Kraig Kinser finished eighth in last year's ASCoC season opener at half-mile dirt oval. He'll also race on Wednesday and Thursday evenings in ASCoC events.
Friday night marks the opening of the 2009 WoO season and will be followed by complete programs on both Saturday and Sunday nights. The 2004 Kevin Gobrecht WoO Rookie of the Year has started five WoO feature events at VSP in his career, with his best finish of fifth coming on Feb. 13, 2005. His crew chief during both his ASCoC win and that fifth-place finish was Mike Cool, the current crew chief of the TSR No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/JD Byrider Maxim.
With six nights of racing to start the year, Kinser is hoping to jump start the 2009 campaign. Last year, he competed in 64 WoO feature events, earning a 12th-place finish in the final WoO Sprint Series Championship standings with 7,536 points. He captured a pair of victories, 10 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s.
Kraig Kinser, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Maxim:
It's been 91 days since you finished up the 2008 season in Charlotte, where you were one of the most consistent drivers down the stretch. What have you done to keep yourself sharp in order to start off the 2009 season at the same level?
"Well, we sure weren't ready for the season to end. We found some things that helped us be consistently fast from qualifying to feature time. Early last year, we spent a good bit of time trying to figure out what I needed the car to be like. Coolie (Mike Cool) joined us during the season and we've always worked well together. We tried several things and finally started clicking. I know, at Charlotte, I felt like I was catching Donny late in the race, so our goal is to be battling up front right away in Florida.
"We did some testing last November and the guys were able to use some of that data to put a plan together for this year. I spent a couple weeks racing in Australia and was able to keep the rust off. I'm excited about getting back into the Bass Pro Shops Chevy. The guys (Mike Cool, Steve Swensen, and Bob Curtis) have really worked hard the past three months, and we're all looking forward to a good week in Florida."
You won the first time you raced at Volusia Speedway Park in 2005. The victory came after you spent your first full season on the road with the Outlaws in 2004. After racing on pavement in other cars in 2006 and 2007, you had another full tour back on the dirt with the Outlaws last year. Are you as confident now as you were when you went to Florida in 2005?
"Everything changes, but I think there may be some similarities. We had a good car that first night we won in Florida, which you have to have because there are always so many good cars down there. You never really know what to expect until you go through something. I knew coming back to Sprint car racing wasn't going to be easy, and I'm thankful Tony (Stewart) and everyone at TSR continued to believe in me.
"We had some rough times, but also seemed to find our stride. That's how we're trying to look at Florida this year. We know what we need to do and now it's about going out and having the same kind of success we had late in the year. We dug ourselves such a big hole last year that it seemed to take forever to get things going. Our goals are still the same: be consistent and try to win as many we can. We've got a great group of sponsors in Bass Pro Shops, Chevy and JD Byrider and starting the season with some good finishes would be a great thing for all of us."