STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ Texas Two-Step Weekend Next Opportunity for Tony Stewart Racing INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2010) -- After a weekend of mixing it up in California, the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series schedule points to the state...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ Texas Two-Step Weekend Next Opportunity for Tony Stewart Racing
INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2010) -- After a weekend of mixing it up in California, the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series schedule points to the state where everything is bigger for a pair of races in the second annual Texas Two-Step weekend. And it doesn't get any bigger than the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) tandem of 20-time WoO champion Steve Kinser paired with four-time and reigning Outlaw champion Donny Schatz. Both drivers have been victorious in Texas during their illustrious careers, and each is optimistic heading into this weekend, which begins Friday at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore and continues Saturday with The Texas Shootout at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown.
Texas hosted the Outlaws' first event in March 1978 and has long been a stopping point in the series' annual crusade to determine a champion. The TSR teammates have been very productive racing in Texas over the years. Kinser, who drives the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, has won 54 Outlaw races in the state, with his first coming at Big H Raceway near Houston in March 1979. Schatz, pilot of the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J, scored his first Texas win in March 1999 at Battleground Speedway, also in the Houston area.
Ironically, both were key players in the Outlaws' visit to Lone Star Speedway in October 2003. In his first visit to the high-banked, 4/10-mile oval, Schatz led the first 29 laps of the 30-lap A-Feature, but Kinser led the most important one. The race was your typical Saturday night Outlaw gunfight. Schatz seized control early in the race and was the pacesetter, but it was the cagey veteran Kinser who rode in and snatched the victory. The win didn't come without a fight as the two swapped slide jobs during the final two laps before determining the winner.
The series returned to Lone Star State the following spring, and Kinser was again triumphant. Last season, "The King of the Outlaws" finished third in both races there. Schatz also has been consistent during four visits; finishing second twice, as well as fourth and sixth. Last season, he was the fastest qualifier in both WoO events at the track.
Following Outlaw wins in the Houston area early in their careers, both Kinser and Schatz added Houston Raceway Park to the list of tracks where they've conquered the competition. Houston Raceway Park has staged 14 nights of Outlaw racing, including three preliminary programs, since opening in the spring of 2000. Kinser or Schatz has been the winner nine of the 14 nights. Kinser's first victory at the track came in April 2000, and he backed that up with his second in October that same season. In March 2004, he scored his 500th career WoO A-Feature triumph at the track.
After struggling in his first seven starts at Houston Raceway Park, which originally was a 3/8-mile oval and in 2007 became a quarter-mile track, Schatz has earned six consecutive podium finishes. His two career wins came in March 2005 and March 2007. Last April, he charged from 14th to finish second in the A-Feature.
Through five nights of action in the 2010 WoO campaign, Kinser ranks third and Schatz fourth in the championship standings. Kinser maintained his streak of top-six finishes to start the season last weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., while Schatz, who finished fourth in Friday's Thunderbowl opener, was involved in an accident in Saturday's finale and was credited with a 20th-place finish. Joey Saldana is the current WoO point leader with Jason Meyers trailing by seven markers. Kinser is nine back and Schatz trails by 36.
For Friday's event at Lone Star Speedway, the pit gates will open throughout the day while the grandstands open at 5 p.m. CST. Racing is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. For more details, contact Lone Star Speedway at (903) 986-9731, or visit the official Web site of Lone Star Speedway at www.lonestarspeedway.com.
Saturday at Houston Raceway Park, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact Houston Raceway Park by calling (281) 383-7223, or visit the official Web site of Houston Raceway Park at www.houstonraceway.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:
This weekend, the schedule takes you back to Texas. You've competed in a lot of races and scored some historic wins in the state during your career. How valuable is it for the Outlaws to be holding races in Texas again?
"It's important to be racing anywhere we can. It will be nice to race down there in Kilgore and Houston. Both of those tracks have been really good tracks for me. That region of the country used to be a hotbed for a number of years and was always a big part of our schedule.
"Some of the races have slowed in the Texas-Oklahoma area, but I'm glad over the past few years that we've started going back there. Kilgore has a fine facility and I have always enjoyed running there. We've always enjoyed racing in the Houston area, as well."
This weekend, you have the challenge of competing on both a half-mile and quarter-mile on consecutive nights. Do you feel your program is better suited for one size versus the other?
"Recently, we've been really good on the bigger tracks, which should help us at Kilgore. A few years ago, it seemed to be the opposite. I'm not sure why that has changed.
"To start this year, we were really good on the bigger tracks in Florida and Las Vegas, and last weekend (at Thunderbowl Raceway) we weren't bad on the smaller track. Hopefully, this weekend being on both sizes will give us a chance to keep up our momentum on the half-mile at Kilgore and continue improving on our short-track program in Houston.
"A lot of times, (TSR teammate) Donny (Schatz) and I work the cars quite a bit alike. I think the 15 team's race setup program is similar to ours. Their bigger track program seems to be quite a bit better than their short-track stuff. Maybe it's one of those deals where we can put our heads together and figure something out that will help both of us."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
Throughout your last four championship seasons, you've had a variety of starts to the season. What are your thoughts after the first five races this year?
"We know that every season is different and this year isn't going to be like any other. We were happy to win the first night of the season in Florida, but not happy about not winning in Las Vegas on a night, we felt like, we should have won.
"Last weekend in California, things could have gone better, but we were just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is what it is. The best thing is that we have a lot more races to go.
"As far as an assessment, we race for wins and, right now, we only have one. That's not the kind of win ratio this team is going to be happy with. We're all looking forward to racing this weekend in Texas. It's another chance for us to add a couple numbers to our win column."
Last season, you were strong early in the night in both visits to Lone Star Speedway and strong at the end of the night at Houston Raceway Park. What will it take to have a complete night at both tracks this weekend?
"It just goes back to doing what we do best. Start strong and continue to get better as the night goes on. Last year, we timed well at Kilgore, and each time we started sixth in the feature. In both races, the guy who started on the front row won the race, so maybe we need to figure out how to start on the front row.
"We didn't qualify well last April in Houston, which was a little out of character. In the feature, I had a great car and just ran out of laps to catch Joey (Saldana) for the win. We started 14th and needed maybe another lap or two. Hopefully this year, we can qualify a little better and start a little closer to the front.
"The bottom line is that I know I've got the best group of guys (crew chief Rick Warner, crewman Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) working hard for me every night. We've been good on both the bigger tracks like Kilgore and have won races before at Houston Raceway Park. We're all looking forward to having a couple of really good nights in Texas."