STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ Busy Outlaw Slate Begins in Minnesota for Tony Stewart Racing INDIANAPOLIS (April 28, 2010) -- Racers want to race as much as they can. When Ted Johnson's vision of corralling the top Sprint car racers came to...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
Busy Outlaw Slate Begins in Minnesota for Tony Stewart Racing
INDIANAPOLIS (April 28, 2010) -- Racers want to race as much as they can. When Ted Johnson's vision of corralling the top Sprint car racers came to fruition four decades ago, a culture of racing began that still thrives today. Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Steve Kinser has become a racing icon thanks to thousands of nights competing with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series, which paved the way for other drivers, like his TSR teammate Donny Schatz, to become household names.
These drivers and crews resemble modern-day nomads by traveling around the country racing as often as possible. Mother Nature sometimes slows them down, but they are a resilient bunch of Outlaws. After only three nights of action over the last 39 days, Kinser, Schatz and the rest of the current Outlaws happily begin a stretch of eight races over the next three weeks starting Saturday when they return to Jackson (Minn.) Speedway. Schatz, who pilots the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J, won the Outlaws' most recent A-Feature at Jackson in September 2006, while Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, is the only driver to have won two WoO A-Features at the half-mile dirt oval.
Kinser made his debut at the track during the famed Jackson Nationals in August 1986, one week after winning his fourth Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals championship. He finished sixth that night and came back to finish second the following season when the Outlaws made their debut at the facility in July 1987. The Bloomington, Ind., native captured his first WoO win at the track in the 1988 Jackson Nationals and won his second in September 2004 by passing his son Kraig for the lead late in the race to secure the win. The 20-time WoO champion finished fifth in his most recent race at the track in September 2005, giving him nine finishes of seventh or better in nine career starts at Jackson.
The experience four-time and reigning WoO champion Donny Schatz gained at Jackson Speedway during the early years of his career are similar to those of many of his contemporaries. While Kinser learned his craft circling short tracks in Indiana before heading out on the road with the Outlaws, Schatz raced at tracks like Red River Valley Speedway, Huset's Speedway and Jackson Speedway during the early stages of his career. Those weekend races taught him some of the fundamentals that still help him today.
He first towed his family owned No. 15 Sprint car to Jackson in June 1994 to compete in a special NCRA event at the track. He followed his 11th-place finish that night with a victory when he returned the next time in April 1995. His third race at Jackson came later that summer, when he finished second in the unsanctioned Jackson Nationals. During the 1996 season, he won four times in six starts, including a pair of August WISSOTA National Sprint car races that ultimately led to him to secure the 1996 WISSOTA title. Following that championship, he moved to the World of Outlaws series and returned to Jackson with the Outlaws in 2004. He finished ninth and came back the following season to finish second. In September 2006, he scored his 49th career WoO A-Feature and sixth career win at Jackson by leading the final 20 laps of the 30-lap race.
Mother Nature was the victor last weekend when heavy rains hit southern Indiana, forcing WoO officials to reschedule the Tri-State Speedway event to Oct. 16. In their most recent action during the weekend of April 16-17, the TSR teams scored consecutive top-10 finishes. Schatz posted a fifth at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway and sixth at I-55 Raceway in the Armor All/STP J&J, while Kinser raced the Bass Pro Shops Maxim to a ninth-place finish at Paducah and a fifth-place finish at I-55 Raceway. Both teams remain inside the top-four of the 2010 WoO championship standings. Jason Meyers and Joey Saldana lead the way with Kinser 30 points back in third and Schatz right behind him in fourth, 67 points out of first place.
For Saturday's event at Jackson Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT, and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information on the event, visit www.jacksonspeedway.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:
Through your career, you have raced at numerous tracks and surely have found memories from many. This weekend, you'll return to Minnesota and race at Jackson Speedway. You've won a pair of Outlaw features there, and your most recent victory in 2004 was a result of you out-dueling your son Kraig for the win. How special was that?
"I think there have only been about three times that Kraig and I have run one-two over the years. That night back in 2004, I think that's the only time I've finished ahead of him, so far. He got me two other times, where I've finished second to him.
"We both run hard, no matter what. My job and Kraig's job is to win races and compete for a championship. I try to race everyone fair and clean but, in the end, it's my job to compete for that championship for Bass Pro Shops and Tony Stewart Racing, and its Kraig's job to compete for the championship for Steve Kinser Racing."
The return to Jackson also means a return to the big tracks. After nearly a month of racing on bullrings and smaller tracks, Saturday's race at Jackson kicks off five straight "big-track" races. Knowing how fond you are of the bigger tracks, you have to be looking forward to getting to the track on Saturday.
"I really enjoy racing on the half-mile tracks the best because the speed is there. Jackson is a big, racy kind of track you can go fast on and do some passing on and that's my favorite kind of track. I know that, sometimes, a big track isn't as much fun for the spectators to watch the race on, but for drivers, it's all about the speed and being able to pass. You can do that at Jackson and really mix it up with the other drivers.
"I just think we're losing too many of these great, old half-mile tracks, especially in the Midwest. People build tracks and they build three-eighths and quarters for their regular weekly shows, and you can understand that. But, when you want to really get the speed and the challenge for the driver, you have to have that big half-mile, and that's what I like about Jackson."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
This week's race marks your first stop in Minnesota this season, as well as your first stop close to your home territory in the upper Midwest. Is there any added pressure when racing so close to home?
"Honestly, the only pressure we have now is to have the results that will allow us to reach the goals we set for the season. I'd say, earlier in my career, that I'd want to do something spectacular when I was racing close to home like at Fargo (Red River Valley Speedway). After finally winning there, most of that added stuff just went away. We've been fortunate to have a lot of success the past few years and some of that has come up in this area. We won at Princeton (Minn.) a couple of times, won in Fargo (N.D.) and Grand Forks (N.D.), and won the last time we raced at Jackson in 2006.
"The great thing about racing with the Outlaws as long as I have is that I've been able to make a lot of friends across the country. No matter where we race, there always seem to be people who we enjoy seeing and talking with. Those are the things that make it special. And then, if you can go out and have a great night and win the race, it's fun to see their smiles after the race.
"Racing this close does make it possible for a lot of my family to come out. I have three nieces and one more coming really soon, and it's fun to have them see what I do. We're looking forward to this weekend."
Jackson Speedway is one of the 50 different tracks where you've won a World of Outlaws race. You mentioned your victory at the track in 2006. That win came late in 2006, one night after you charged from 15th to win at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway. It was one weekend after your famous crash and fire at Silver Dollar Speedway. That weekend kind of solidified your run to your first title. Things are a lot different nearly five years later, and the season is just getting started, but a triumph Saturday certainly would provide a boost heading into a busy month of May.
"I remember that win well. It was really windy, and we just barely finished the race before a heavy rainstorm hit the track. I've been fortunate to win a few races at Jackson and, yes, I'd agree that winning this weekend would be good. We put goals out there like winning more features than we did the year before. We've been sitting on one win for too long.
"We know that things can change quickly and, the last few years, May has been a month when we've kind hit our stride. This Armor All team (crew chief Rick Warner, crewmen Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) is the best group of guys out here. Both Rick and Shane were with me when we won at Jackson in 2006, and Steve is from South Dakota and knows a lot about Jackson.
"It's no secret that our program has been better on the bigger tracks. Knoxville, Williams Grove and Eldora are where the biggest races of the year are and we want to be our best at those places. Jackson is similar in that it's big and fast. We did well at Volusia to start the year and had a pretty good night at Las Vegas. Those were both bigger tracks so, hopefully, that's a sign of things to come starting with Saturday night's race."