2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Steve Kinser Concord, NC-- December 15, 2008--Every single year since he began racing sprint cars in 1976, Steve Kinser has won at least six races and he continued that trend in 2008, visiting the winner's...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Steve Kinser
Concord, NC-- December 15, 2008--Every single year since he began racing sprint cars in 1976, Steve Kinser has won at least six races and he continued that trend in 2008, visiting the winner's circle seven times with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series to bring his career total to 550 A-Feature triumphs with the series. He won on a variety of tracks this past season from the sprawling 5/8-mile at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York, the largest tracks in the circuit to the tight ¼-mile bullring at Ocean Speedway in California, which was the smallest, along with tracks at all sizes in between.
The 20-time series champion was one of just five drivers that led more than 200 laps of feature racing competition with the World of Outlaws in 2008. In addition to this, he was tied for the series lead with six wins in the Crane Cams Dash to earn pole positions and was quickest in time trials on five occasions.
Kinser finished the season third in the championship standings, on the strength of 49 Top-10 finishes, with 33 of those being Top-Fives. He has now finished in the Top-Five in points with the World of Outlaws a record 26 times in his career.
"It wasn't too bad," said Kinser, of the 2008 season. "We still need a little bit of improvement, but we weren't terrible. We'll plug away this winter and see what we come out with next year. At the beginning of the year we weren't good enough in qualifying. It's important out here to qualify in the right spot. Right now if you are not on the front row (in a heat race), you have about a 20 percent chance of doing it from the second row in an eight-lap run."
Kinser, who claimed the first of his record 20 World of Outlaws titles in the series inaugural 1978 season, 30 years ago, has seen a lot change over the years. He is quick to point out that the competition continues to rise each and every year on the tour.
"Everything is tougher," deadpanned Kinser. "Every motor shop now basically has the same parts and same horsepower. All the parts are pretty much identical can you can buy it over the shelf. That's makes it a little different from how we grew up racing. We work a lot of our parts to make them better, but there is not a lot you can do now. You have to work with stuff like chassis set-ups and try to make things work the best they can."
Kinser picked up his first win of the year in the Q Oil Maxim at the famed Williams Grove Speedway in May and wrapped up a strong East Coast swing with a triumph at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park on Memorial Day. His biggest win of the year came in the $40,000 Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway, where he wired the field in dominant fashion. He also won at I-96 Speedway in Michigan, as well as Charter Raceway Park in Wisconsin. Kinser also added to his amazing record at tracks that he visits for the first time, scoring the win at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, North Dakota in August.
Despite having well over 30 years of experience, Kinser still meticulously prepares for every race that he takes part in, and that begins with the first green flag lap of hot laps each night. He had one of the strongest second halves of the season of any driving competing this season with the World of Outlaws, as he finished in the Top-10 in 30 of the final 33 events of the season.
"You have to have knowledge of what your car is doing to make it work right," he noted. "You have to work on all aspects of it. You have to have engine program right and the performance on the race track, where it runs well too. You have to have it so it runs strong, but doesn't blow the tires off of it either. These cars are pretty equal right now."
Kinser had a chance to race against his son Kraig again this season, as the 24-year old returned to full-time competition with the World of Outlaws, driving for Tony Stewart Racing. Steve finished third in both of the races that Kraig won this past season and was able to congratulate him on the front straightaway, first at Gray's Harbor Raceway in Washington and then again at North Central Speedway in Minnesota.
"It's always enjoyable racing against him," he said. "I think he would have liked to have gotten a shot at running more pavement stuff, but that was not the case. It's good to have him around no matter what."
Kinser was part of two of the best races all season, as he and Jac Haudenschild battled for the win at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, California and then at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California on consecutive nights in October. The first night saw the 20-time series champion masterfully weave his way through heavy traffic, while withstanding several charges by Haudenschild on the high side of the track. The following night it was dejà vu again, as Haudenschild caught Kinser in heavy traffic and used the high side of the track in traffic to take the lead and ultimately the win. Following the duel at Ocean Speedway the pair greeted each other on the front straightaway with a high-five and a hearty handshake and hug that thrilled the crowd.
"It's always fun to run with Haud," said Kinser with a smile after the win at Ocean Speedway. "We have had some fun ones over the years. We're both fortunate that we are able to stand up in the seat and still get the job done once in a while."
As he has for many years in the past, Kinser will head Down Under to Australia in the off-season to gear up for the 2009 campaign, though he will not run as many races as he has in the past. He won last off-season in Australia at Parramatta City Raceway on New Year's Day, against several fellow World of Outlaws competitors.
"I wasn't going to go there originally since I have a boy (Kurt) wrestling at IU (Indiana University), but I'll go over for about 10 days over Christmas and New Year's," he noted. "They don't really do a lot of wrestling during those 10 days, so I'll be able to get back and catch all the Big-10 matches and the NCAA's so that is the most important part of it anyway."
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.