Blank'The King' Continues Houston Hot Streak By Richard Day BAYTOWN, TX (April 6) -- Steve Kinser sure knows how to make a sponsor happy. "The King of the Outlaws" has made a habit of winning races in Houston -- home of Pennzoil/Quaker State...
Blank'The King' Continues Houston Hot Streak
By Richard Day
BAYTOWN, TX (April 6) -- Steve Kinser sure knows how to make a sponsor happy. "The King of the Outlaws" has made a habit of winning races in Houston -- home of Pennzoil/Quaker State -- since Quaker State became his sponsor in 1995.
Kinser drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim to victory in both main events at Houston Raceway Park a year ago and led all 30 laps Friday before a live audience on TNN: The National Network when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the Second Annual Texas Shootout.
Rookie Brad Furr gave "The King" a run for the $5,000 first prize, but was .08 seconds behind at the checkered flag.
"I knew someone was back there close to me," Kinser admitted. "I could hear him getting off the corners. I wasn't really sure where to run. We were working pretty good up top early, and when you're running good it's tough to move around a lot. Some of the guys showed me where the black was getting down in the middle in three and four on that last caution. When the rubber starts in the middle, it almost always goes straight to the bottom, so that's where I ended up."
Kinser negotiated the semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval to perfection, winning every race he entered -- the Third O'Reilly Heat Race, the CHANNELLOCK Dash and the 30-lap Preliminary Feature.
"The King of the Outlaws" burst into the lead from the pole as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Andy Hillenburg tried to take the lead with a slide move between turns one and two early in the opening lap, but O'Reilly Heat Race winners Mark Kinser and Joey Saldana and Furr passed him.
Hillenburg and Jeff Shepard, who started inside the fifth row, relegated Saldana to sixth place during the second and third laps. Furr drove his family's #2F Sanmina Eagle around Mark Kinser high in the fourth corner late in the fifth lap.
Steve Kinser was three seconds ahead of Furr when he entered lapped traffic four laps later, only to have Terry McCarl stop in turn two and bring out the caution flag the next time around. Paul McMahan spun the third corner two laps after the race resumed.
Shepard and Mark Kinser exchanged third place on the ensuing restart while "The King of the Outlaws" opened a comfortable advantage. He was 1.6 seconds ahead of Furr when he caught the backmarkers again during the 20th lap.
Furr narrowed the gap to .5 seconds within three laps, however. Brad raced wheel-to-wheel with Kinser through the third and fourth corners, but Steve beat him under the checkered flag by inches.
"I really didn't think I was going to get that good a run on him," on the last lap," Furr said. "Obviously, it wasn't enough. Steve's just so hard to beat. My car was a little better up high, so that's where I tried to run. We'll take second tonight and worry about winning tomorrow."
Mark Kinser and Shepard finished third and fourth to claim the second-row starting positions in Saturday's CHANNELLOCK Dash.
"We had a pretty decent night," Mark said. "Brad Furr got by me there early. He's been driving like a veteran this year and, of course, Steve's always real tough, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. At the end of the race, I was just trying to go where Brad wasn't to try to get by him. If he went up high, I'd go low. I really didn't think about him and Steve tangling going for the win or anything like that; I just did what I thought I had to do to run my race."
Shepard was happy to drive the #5 Wirtgen Maxim into fourth place. "Man, it seems like the last couple of races we've gotten this car going pretty good," Jeff said. "Locking in (into the CHANNELLOCK Dash) for tomorrow helps so much because it takes away a lot of the pressure of timing or worrying about something happening in a heat race."
Danny Wood put on an outstanding performance reminiscent of his victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3rd, racing into fifth place from outside the ninth row.
"I can't thank Rob (Hart) and Cathy (Barrows) enough," Wood said. "They gave me a great race car that could work anywhere. I wish we could've passed that last car (Shepard) to lock into Saturday's dash. Just having Rob and Cathy working on the car has given me so much confidence. They don't let me work on the car or go to the car wash anymore; they tell me to show up and do my job and they'll do theirs. I'm not sure what it is about starting in row nine, but it's just about killing me. I'm ready to start up front more often."
Stevie Smith raced into sixth place from outside the seventh row. Saldana finished seventh, ahead of "B" Feature winner Daryn Pittman, Craig Dollansky and Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski.
Johnny Herrera's debut in the #8H Holbrook Motorsports Maxim was rather inauspicious. Engine problems kept him from starting the First O'Reilly Heat Race and a sixth-place finish in the "B" Feature kept him out of the Preliminary Feature.