STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ Outlaw Champions Look To Turn Up the Heat at Eldora, Lernerville INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 22, 2010) -- Patience isn't something you often see in the world of motorsports. Time and again, drivers are heard discussing the...
STEVE KINSER & DONNY SCHATZ
Outlaw Champions Look To Turn Up the Heat at Eldora, Lernerville
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 22, 2010) -- Patience isn't something you often see in the world of motorsports. Time and again, drivers are heard discussing the need to be patient but, in their world, a split second can be the difference between winning and losing -- the difference between hoisting the championship trophy and being the team that came up just short.
The Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) tandem of Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz are well aware of the importance patience plays in the pursuit of World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series titles, and they also know when patience has to be thrown out of the cockpit. Kinser and Schatz have reached that point in the 2010 WoO championship campaign. With only eight races remaining, they know every lap matters and there is no tomorrow if they are going to earn this year's WoO title.
The good news is that this weekend offers two nights of action at tracks where each has been strong in the past. On Friday night, the Outlaws return to Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, to kick-off the Four-Crown weekend festivities. The following night, Kinser and Schatz will compete in the Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. The last time the Outlaws circled Eldora's famous high banks in July, Kinser won his seventh Kings Royal title. A few days later, Schatz used the consistency of second- and fourth-place finishes in the Twin 30 A-Feature events at Lernerville to earn the Silver Cup crown.
The bad news is that current points leader Jason Meyers and Joey Saldana, who ranks second, each have been running extremely well down the stretch. Meyers recently won the Gold Cup Race of Champions and finished second to Saldana in the Outlaws A-Feature last Saturday night. Kinser trails Meyers by 48 points and is 45 behind Saldana. Schatz finds himself a little further back of the leaders, trailing Meyers by 115 markers, but he realizes there a lot of tough nights still ahead where anything can happen.
Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider Maxim, has been through a lot during his illustrious career and has been racing at both of this weekend's venues since the late 1970s. Of his 560 career WoO A-Feature triumphs, 41 have come at Eldora. The 20-time WoO champion has made 144 WoO starts at the half-mile track and has finished inside the top-five in 100 races. Continuing that type of consistency is going to be crucial on Friday night. In the Kings Royal, Kinser made a thrilling final-lap pass of Kerry Madsen to score the victory, while Meyers and Saldana each were involved in accidents and finished 17th and 23rd, respectively. Unfortunately for Kinser, the event was a "show-up-only" points event, meaning each driver received 75 points regardless of finish, so he didn't gain anything on Meyers and Saldana.
Schatz last won at Eldora in July 2009, scoring his second Kings Royal triumph driving the TSR No. 15 Armor All/STP/ParkerStore J&J. During this year's Kings Royal weekend, he finished second in the Night Before the Kings Royal 30-lap race and then charged from ninth to finish fourth in the Kings Royal. The four-time and reigning WoO champion has made 75 starts at the famed track and is looking to win his sixth career WoO A-Feature at the western Ohio speedplant.
The weekend will conclude with the Commonwealth Clash at historic Lernerville Speedway. The track has been a staple on the WoO schedule since the series' first visit in August 1979, when Kinser took home the feature win. The Bloomington, Ind., racer has made 65 starts at the 4/10-mile dirt oval in western Pennsylvania and has been a winner in 17 WoO main events. Schatz has 28 starts at Lernerville during his 14-year WoO career, winning three times, including the 2003 Commonwealth Clash and consecutive Silver Cup titles in 2006 and 2007.
Last weekend, Kinser and Schatz kept pace with Meyers and Saldana by scoring strong finishes at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, and Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. Kinser finished second Friday at Clay County and raced from 14th to third on Saturday night. Schatz finished third Friday and fourth Saturday to give him 33 top-five finishes this season, only four behind Kinser's series-leading 37.
Friday at Eldora, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 2:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (937) 338-3815 or visit www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
On Saturday at Lernerville, the pit gates will open at 4 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (724) 353-1511 or visit www.lernerville.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:
Returning to Eldora Speedway has to be something you are really looking forward to. This weekend's race is going to be really important in the championship chase. What makes racing at Eldora so special to you?
"I've always loved racing at Eldora. Sprint car racing and speed go hand in hand, in my mind. Being able to race these cars at their maximum potential is what it's all about. Growing up in Indiana and watching my dad race, you always knew about places like Eldora. Finally being able to race there in the fall of 1976 for the first time is something I'll always remember. I'll probably always remember this year's Kings Royal, too. Those races are special and, really, racing there is special. (Former owners) Earl and Bernice (Baltes) put a lot of hard work into the place and (current owner) Tony (Stewart) and his people just keep building on that foundation. Four-Crown weekend has always been kind of the last big show of the year there. The first year (1981), I won the Sprint and Silver Crown features and then came back and won the Sprint feature the next year. It's been fun the past couple of years to have the Outlaws be part of the program.
"As far as the importance of the race goes, everything is important now. Qualifying has been hurting us, so hopefully we can figure that out and start off strong right out of the box. Track conditions may be a factor, so being able to adapt quickly is important. I know right now with where we are every time we're on the track is going to be important. Hopefully this weekend, we'll be able to continue some of the success we've had in the past."
Friday's race is one of eight remaining on the season. Success in Saturday's Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville is going to be just as crucial. What are your thoughts on returning to Lernerville?
"I can tell you we didn't have a very good time when we were there in July. In the feature, I worked my way close to the front and then jumped the cushion. From there, it was all downhill. When I jumped the cushion, I knocked the oil pan off and then we hit the frontstretch wall. That all happened so late in the first feature, we really didn't have much time to get ready for the second. We didn't have the kind of night we wanted, but that is how racing goes. Hopefully, that is all behind us, now, and we'll go over there have a really good performance. Same deal, though. You have to qualify up front and get yourself in the dash. The cars we race with and all the guys who will be there will be awfully hard to catch from deep in the field. Our qualifying has put us back there a few times this year. From here on out, we just can't put ourselves in that position."
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/Armor All/Chevy/ParkerStore J&J:
In 2007, the World of Outlaws moved the final Eldora race from August to late September. As a driver, it has to be fun to be in an event with other racers like the USAC divisions. What are your thoughts on being part of the Four-Crown weekend?
"I think it's great to be at the event as part of Tony Stewart Racing. Tony (Stewart) worked his way to NASCAR by racing USAC cars and the Four-Crown weekend has always been big. It's fun for us to be part of it. If you think about it, the weekend is a huge success for Tony for a lot of reasons. He owns the track, owns the cars that Steve Kinser and I drive, and has Levi Jones going for another USAC Sprint title. Levi and Bryan Clauson both drive a TSR Silver Crown car, too, so while he's over at Dover trying to win a NASCAR championship, we'll all be at his track trying to win our championships. He's a true racer and I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way. For me, the weekend is another opportunity. We only get to see the USAC guys at our races a few times a year. They are with us at Las Vegas and Knoxville, both places where I've been able to win in the past. Maybe that'll be the key for us this year in the Four-Crown. The first couple of years, we haven't had the best of luck, but maybe it's our turn to have things go our way."
Saturday's race in Pennsylvania will be the first of three in the Keystone State. Next week's National Open will offer two more chances for you to reclaim your dominance in the state. How good would it be for you to pick up a few wins in Pennsylvania to help your chances in the championship?
"Winning anything will help our chances right now. We don't have time to wait. We have eight races remaining and, when we get to Lernerville, we'll only have seven. Yeah, if we could win all three races in Pennsylvania, that would really help our chances. Honestly, with the ground we have to make up, that might be the only way for us to catch the leaders. The way the points work and the stiffness of competition, the driver and entire team have got to be on their game. That's the only way a driver has a chance to win one World of Outlaws race, let alone two or three. But that's our goal. I said the other night before the dash that we were hoping to win as many races as we can. We've got to start with one and, hopefully, that comes Friday. And then we can give it our all on Saturday. We qualified well (second) in the Silver Cup and actually moved forward in both races, so we've got a baseline to start with. I know the Armor All guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Shane Bowers) still have a lot of fight in them and so do I. We're going to give it everything we can."