Event: Las Vegas
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
Tony Stewart Racing Teammates Chasing Lucky Number Seven In Las Vegas World of Outlaws Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS (March 1, 2011) -- When people think of Las Vegas, a number of things come to mind. Entertainment. Luck. Winning. And sometimes that catchy saying, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." For Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, this week's Las Vegas World of Outlaws (WoO) Nationals presented by J.D. Byrider will offer each a pair of opportunities to put on a show, have some good luck and, ultimately, win. If either or both of the two former champions, who share the top spot with six career WoO wins at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, can come out victorious for the seventh time, they'll certainly be happy to let everyone know what happened in Vegas on Wednesday and Thursday night.
Kinser, the winningest Outlaw driver of all time with 565 career WoO A-Feature wins and 20 WoO titles, is off to a tremendous start in the 2011 WoO campaign. The Bloomington, Ind., native has driven the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/ Chevy Maxim to victory three times in the series' first five races.
"The King of the Outlaws" will be making his 39th appearance at the half-mile dirt oval on Wednesday evening. On two occasions, he's rolled into Las Vegas and swept a pair of races at the facility. He won back-to-back races in March 2000 and 2004. In last year's Las Vegas Super Sprint Classic, Kinser was involved in a memorable three-car battle for the victory with Schatz and Jason Meyers. Kinser took the lead on the final lap but couldn't hold off Meyers, who went on to claim the victory.
Schatz has won five of the previous nine WoO races at The Dirt Track and is the only driver to qualify for all 42 WoO feature events at the facility. In February 2009, he had a dominating night aboard the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevy J&J, setting fast-time, winning his heat and leading the final 15 laps of the 30-lap A-Feature. In November 2006, the Fargo, N.D., racer won the season finale at the track to put an exclamation point on his first championship with the Outlaws. Last year, he earned the pole by winning the dash, and leading 26 of the first 27 laps before finishing just behind Meyers and Kinser.
While Kinser's 2011 campaign has started with a bang, Schatz has had a run of tough luck. The early season highlight was a terrific charge through the field during the second night of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. He raced his way from 17th
to finish second. The team is optimistic that its luck will change with a pair of races in Las Vegas and, hopefully, be the start of a strong western swing that also includes races at five California dirt ovals.
On the strength of three wins, a second- and seventh-place finish in five races, Kinser leads the 2011 WoO championship standings with 733 points. Schatz has one top-five on the season and ranks eighth in the standings with 632 markers.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/J.D. Byrider Maxim:
Your second season with TSR has gotten off to a terrific start. What's been the biggest key?
"I'd have to say it has been the effort of the Bass Pro Shops guys who work for this team. Last year, we really had things going well, and I let them down by making some mistakes in races that I shouldn't have. It ended up costing us a championship. (Crew chief Scott Gerkin, and crewmen Gary DuBois and Mikey Kuemper) worked hard all winter building cars and parts. We went to Florida with the same plan we had last year to win races and try to be fast every night. I'm not sure I've ever had a start like this before, but the reason for it is all their hard work. We're going to do whatever we can to keep this pace all season."
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/J.D. Byrider Maxim (continued.):
You are a six-time winner at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Why have you been so successful there?
"It's a big, fast half-mile and we've been pretty good on the bigger tracks. I've always said these Sprint cars are made for going fast. It's fun at a place like Las Vegas, where you can maximize the horsepower and really get the car operating at its best. The track is one where we just seem to do well, and I really hope that continues."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
Throughout your 15-year WoO career, you've experienced just about everything. There have been years when you've had slow starts and finished strong. Even though the first five races have been a challenge, this season is bound to have many ups and downs. Is that the best way to keep this grueling schedule in perspective?
"The only thing you can do is keep working hard as a team and get things headed in the right direction. We've had tough starts before and then been able to rebound. We can't worry about the big picture right now. We have to find a way to get ourselves qualified well, first. Five or six years ago, we had a really hard time qualifying and always seemed to be coming from deep in the field. Then, we got going where we were one of the fastest cars at the track every night. With this series, you have to be fast at the beginning of the night in order to have a chance to win at the end of the night. Winning is what our ultimate goal is but, right now, we just want to get to where we are competitive with the guys up front."
You've been more than competitive at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Can you look at this two-night program as an opportunity to get things going in the direction you want?
"It's always good to go to places where you've done well before. The bottom line is that we've been really good in Florida, Mississippi and Houston in the past and weren't this year. So, it's not going to be some quick fix. We know we've got to start at square one as a team and get the combination working the way we know it's supposed to. Every night we race is an opportunity. Right now, we're all focused on the two races we have this week.
"Las Vegas is a big track, where speed and driver finesse matters. You have to have the speed to roll the cushion, but you also have to be able to drive your car on different parts of the track, too. We've been able to win a lot of races there in many different ways. This week, we've got to find a way to be fast enough so we are in position to challenge for that top spot again."