STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ Tony Stewart Racing's Outlaw Teams Return to Action in Oklahoma INDIANAPOLIS (April 6, 2010) -- The first few weeks of April always seem to get the sporting world buzzing. Whether it's the conclusion of the NCAA...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
Tony Stewart Racing's Outlaw Teams Return to Action in Oklahoma
INDIANAPOLIS (April 6, 2010) -- The first few weeks of April always seem to get the sporting world buzzing. Whether it's the conclusion of the NCAA college basketball madness, the beginning of a new Major League Baseball season or the tradition of the Masters, most sports fans find their competitive juices overflowing. Often it's during these times when America becomes captivated by those underdogs who seemingly everyone can relate with.
In the fast and furious world of Sprint car racing, those same elements typically play out every weekend on dirt tracks across the country. Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser, on the other hand, can relate more to the recently crowned Duke Blue Devils and reigning World Series champion New York Yankees. When they show up for a World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series event, they are the weekly favorites the competition wants to beat.
That status is something both TSR drivers use as motivation, and when the Outlaws' 2010 campaign kicks into high gear on Saturday at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Okla., the drama will continue. Schatz, who drives the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J, will return to Oklahoma this weekend as the four-time and reigning WoO champion while Kinser, pilot of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, has claimed Sprint car racing's most coveted title 20 times in his illustrious career. The pair has earned the last eight WoO titles and each is looking to continue that dominance this season.
Saturday's race at Tri-State will be the first ever at the 3/8-mile clay oval for the WoO series. The state of Oklahoma has hosted the Outlaws numerous times during the series' 32-year history. Kinser has won 20 WoO A-Feature races in the Sooner State, scoring his first win in the state at Lawton Speedway in September 1979. He also has been victorious at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, Tulsa Speedway and Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee. The win at Outlaw Motor Speedway came in April 2005, the Outlaws' most recent stop in Oklahoma.
Schatz was just 17 years old when he made his first start in the state back in March 1995 at State Fair Speedway. The Fargo, N.D., resident won his only WoO feature in Oklahoma at the same facility in March 2003.
The Tony Stewart Racing teammates both rank inside the top-five in WoO career A-Feature wins. Kinser leads the way with an incredible 553, and Schatz ranks fifth with 101. Each driver has scored one feature victory in 2010. Schatz claimed the season opener at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and Kinser won the second race at Volusia. Both drivers have been successful when racing at a new facility, as evidenced by Kinser's 59 inaugural WoO event triumphs, including the 2005 race at Outlaw Motor Speedway. Schatz has won the Outlaws debut at three different facilities.
Both the Armor All/STP team and Bass Pro Shops team are ready to return to action following a two-week break in the schedule. In their most recent race, at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., on March 20, Kinser raced to a fifth-place finish and Schatz charged from 17th to finish 10th. Both drivers are looking for their second 2010 WoO A-Feature triumph of the season, and each would like add Tri-State Speedway to his track win list. Kinser has WoO wins at 131 different tracks, while Schatz has won at 50.
The 2010 WoO championship standings have fluctuated greatly during the series' first nine races. Four different drivers have held the top position already, including TSR's Schatz and Kinser. Jason Meyers is the current WoO point leader and Kinser is just five points out of first. Joey Saldana is in third, while Schatz ranks fourth, 57 points back.
For Saturday's event at Tri-State 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, contact the track at (918) 687-9200, or visit www.slspromotions.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend's race 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:
Throughout your career, you've raced at a number of tracks. This weekend, you'll get to make your first laps at Tri-State Speedway in Oklahoma. Do you enjoy competing at tracks for the first time?
"There are few places where I haven't run, and every once in a while they'll be a new place on the schedule. I always enjoy going to places where I haven't raced before.
"Sprint car racing has been a big part of my life, so it's fun to go to new places and give some new people a chance to see what it's all about.
"It's a good challenge. You get to the track and try to compare it to somewhere you've been before and go from there. These are fun nights and I know the Bass Pro Shops team (crew chief Scott Gerkin, crewmen Gary DuBois and Travis LoGrande) is looking forward to seeing what we can do."
The Outlaw season is a long one and, with only nine of 72 nights completed, we are about halfway through the first quarter. How would you grade the start of your season?
"I think we started off really well. There have been a couple of races that I felt like I gave away wins, but we're still getting better. Teaming up with Tony Stewart Racing has been a good combination, so far. Let's hope we can keep it going.
"There have been four different leaders in the standings early in the season and I think five different guys have won races. The competition is as good as it's been in some time. I'd say there are a good 10 to 12 teams that can win a race on any given night, so that keeps everyone sharp. The racing has been excellent so far this year, and we hope to continue being a factor night in and night out."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
As an Outlaw, you get to race Sprint cars all across the country each year and during your off-season. You even raced in Australia. This weekend, you are heading back to Oklahoma for the first time in a while. Are you excited about getting back there?
"It's fun to be able to race from coast to coast and then even halfway around the world, but it's also fun to get back to some places where we haven't been in a while. When I was really young, the Outlaws raced in Oklahoma and north Texas quite a bit. I'm looking forward to getting back to that area this weekend.
"I've raced in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Muskogee and then also at places like Batesville (Ark.) that are in that part of the county. I think it's important for us to be racing in that area. There are a lot of Sprint car fans there. We have made friends with people from that area over the years and we've done business with companies like Schoenfeld Headers, which are right in that area, too. I'm looking forward to getting a chance to race close to where those guys are from. Hopefully, we can put on a good show for them."
The early part of the 2010 season has been a little bit out of the norm for you and your team. Are you looking forward to 18 consecutive weekends of action?
"Racing is what we do and, knowing that, we are looking at the long run of events as a good thing. We are a little behind where we want to be right now. We've had a couple of crashes that put us back a bit. Our performance has been there but, early on, here, we just haven't been in the right place at the right time, like we have been the past four years. Those things come around and catch you a little bit, sometimes.
"This team (crew chief Rick Warner, crewmen Shane Bowers and Steve Swenson) is working on some things we feel will get us back where we want to be when the season really picks up. We've been through a lot and understand what it takes to win races and, ultimately, win races consistently. That's our focus right now."