STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ WoO Champions Look To Maintain Success at Eldora Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (May 4, 2010) -- One night does not a season make. However, it can be argued that success or failure at one venue on the schedule can play a ...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
WoO Champions Look To Maintain Success at Eldora Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS (May 4, 2010) -- One night does not a season make. However, it can be argued that success or failure at one venue on the schedule can play a pivotal role in determining a champion. Most professional teams spend the regular season trying to secure a home-field, home-court or home-ice advantage for its championship push in the playoffs. This isn't an option in the world of motorsports, as the schedule dictates where each competition is held and, in most cases, doesn't offer an advantage to individual drivers.
The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series challenges its competitors with a season that is spread over nine months and includes more than 70 nights of competition at 30 different facilities. With a schedule like that, it's hard to put too much emphasis on a single track, and history shows that winning races is typically the most important factor. Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz know a lot about winning WoO races at a variety of tracks, and the tandem has combined to win the last nine WoO crowns.
In eight of the last nine years, the WoO champion has been victorious at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, at least once during that title season. Both Schatz and Kinser hope to continue history and potentially get a head start on the 2010 WoO championship this weekend by picking up a victory in the two-night Outlaw Thunder by Goodyear event.
Kinser enters the weekend as the WoO series' most recent winner following his second victory of the season driving the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim Saturday night at Jackson (Minn.) Speedway. The victory continued a solid start to his first season driving for TSR and moved him into second place in the WoO standings. This week's return to Eldora Speedway marks the 33rd consecutive season Kinser has competed with the series at the historic track, where he won his first career WoO A-Feature in May 1978.
On 39 different nights of racing with the World of Outlaws at Eldora during his career, Kinser has finished in first place. Six of the victories came in preliminary events, and his most recent victory at the track came in July 2007. En route to his 20th WoO title in 2005, the Bloomington, Ind., native won three times at the "Big E". In 12 of his 20 championship seasons, Kinser has been victorious at least once at Eldora, including the 1980 season, when he won a career-best five WoO A-Features at Eldora.
Kinser's numbers at Eldora are impressive, to say the least. And when you consider 22 of the 32 WoO champions have found victory lane at Eldora during the their championship season, it's evident that success at one of the fastest half-mile dirt ovals in the world can go a long way toward a successful season.
Four-time and reigning WoO champion Donny Schatz can attest to that. The Fargo, N.D., racer has won WoO races at Eldora during his last three championship seasons. And, in 2006, the year he won his first WoO title, he finished second twice and third twice in six WoO starts there. His first win at the famous track came in August 2002, when he raced to victory in the non-sanctioned $100,000-to-win Historical Big One, and he followed that up by scoring a preliminary feature win in April 2003. His first WoO A-Feature win came in July 2007, the night he dominated the Kings Royal and raced to the checkered flag almost eight seconds ahead of his closest pursuer.
In May 2008 and 2009, Schatz drove the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J to victory lane at Eldora. Ironically, each time he not only chased down the current point leader (Jason Meyers in 2008 and Kinser in 2009) to win the race, he also overtook them for the lead in the point standings with the win. Last July, Schatz continued his recent success at Eldora by pocketing his second $50,000 Kings Royal check.
The event at Jackson this past Saturday was the 13th night of 72 scheduled for the 2010 WoO campaign. With his victory, Kinser jumped into second position in the 2010 championship standings and now trails leader Meyers by 18 points. Schatz remains in fourth position 73 points out of the top spot.
For both events this weekend at Eldora Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT and the grandstands open at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. On Saturday, a special pre-race pit party will be held from 3:30-5 p.m. in the infield. Fans with a general admission ticket will be allowed to cross the track at the flagstand and walk around the infield pit area to meet their favorite drivers. For tickets and more information on the event, contact the Eldora Speedway by calling (937) 338-3815, or visit www.eldoraspeedway.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:
Last weekend, you scored your second victory of the 2010 season, and it again came on a half-mile track. You used the same chassis that you started the season with in Florida. Is there something about the bigger tracks that makes this particular car work better?
"I'm really happy with that particular racecar. We started the season trying a flop tube car in Florida and got it going really well down there, and then we had a good run in Las Vegas with it. After that, we switched cars because the schedule had us going to a lot of smaller tracks. I'm happy we brought it back out this week, and it was still as strong as it was in the beginning of the year.
"The car works really well on the bigger tracks. We run pretty well on the half-miles and have a good car for the half-miles. I always have run well at places like Jackson and really enjoy racing there. The schedule has a lot more bigger tracks coming up in the next few weeks so, hopefully, we can keep plugging away and continue to improve."
You've been extremely successful at a number of tracks over your career. Eldora Speedway is one of the places where you've won a lot of races. What are your thoughts on Eldora and what it will take to continue your success there this weekend?
"Well, Eldora has always been a fast place to race. I really enjoy racing Eldora because the speed is there. We've made a lot of laps around there. People always talked about trying to knock (former owner) Earl's (Baltes) wall down because the fast way around was always on the top-right, up against the concrete wall. It's fast and, normally, you can pass with slide jobs through the corners. It's just a great place to race these kinds of cars.
"Things are always changing, but the best shows always seem to be when you can get a couple of grooves going so that you can make moves around cars and get to the front. We have had quite a bit of success there, but this year, no matter where you race, you need to be hitting it all the time with this group of guys. You can't be slacking anywhere. You have to be good in the beginning, the middle and the end. Eldora will certainly be a challenge, and I know this Bass Pro Shops team is up to it. (Crew chief) Scott (Gerkin), (crewmen) Gary (DuBois) and Sumo (Travis LoGrande) have really been working hard to keep me fast every night. It should be an exciting weekend."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
The month of May is upon us and, traditionally, this is the time you and your race team begin to flex your muscles. What is the biggest reason why this time of the year has been so good to you in the past?
"A lot of it seems to be the places we race in May. We are used to seeing places like Knoxville, Eldora and then Williams Grove on the May schedule. We almost always end the month in Charlotte, and all of those places are big, fast and the surfaces normally are drier, which makes the races about more than just standing on the gas.
"The weather warms up and usually we have quite a bit of racing. We seem to hit our stride. We've worked hard over the past five years to really try to come out of the box strong. Three years ago, we had a lot of success in the early part of the year, and then kept it going in May. Two years ago, we didn't win our first Outlaws race until we got to Knoxville in May. Last year, we won three of the first four races and then kind of hit a dry spot. This year, we won the first night and just haven't been as good as we need to be since.
"It's a total team effort here. We are all in this to win and, right now, we are just a bit off. The good thing is we do have some tracks coming up on the schedule where we have been good in the past. That doesn't mean we'll automatically be good just by showing up there and unloading the car, but it does mean we've got a good starting point to begin each night. I'm excited about these races in May and look forward to working hard and getting ourselves back up front and challenging for wins."
Eldora Speedway can be an intimating place to race with the high banks, high speed and close racing. Winning there isn't easy, but after a few early wins in 2002 and 2003, now it seems you are consistently fast and near the front. Is that a result of more experience at the track?
"Everybody knows about Eldora. I grew up a fan of Sprint car racing and always heard about Eldora. I got to go watch races in Fargo and Knoxville growing up and those places are big and fast, but not super-high-banked like Eldora. Naturally, you heard people say the fast way around that place was up on the wall. It certainly takes some time to get used to. When I was younger, I didn't have any problem going all out and trying to pound the cushion everywhere we raced. Fortunately, some of the veterans helped me understand that you have to be smarter and not always be on kill mode at those types of places.
"When we won the Historical Big One (in 2002) that was a night when everything came together for us. There were nights before that when we were pretty good, but that night things worked out. Winning anywhere gives you confidence, so that helped. To come back the next race and win kept the confidence growing. In 2006, we started really getting good over there, and then to win the Kings Royal like we did the following year was big. There are nights when you still have to get up on the hill and pound it all the way around, but there also are nights when the bottom and middle also work. I always try to move around and see where we can make our car work the best. That's where having a crew (Rick Warner, Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) like I do really helps. I guess, over the years, the experience has helped quite a bit."