INDIANAPOLIS (June 18, 2014) – The road to a championship is filled with many obstacles. The team that navigates through the most challenging hurdles best usually comes out on top. Five-time World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz returns to his home state of North Dakota this weekend leading the championship standings as a result of maximizing his opportunities to succeed and minimizing the nights where things haven’t gone his way. Eighteen years of competition with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” has engrained that mental toughness in Schatz, a trait with which his Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teammate Steve Kinser, a veteran in his 35th full season of WoO competition, set the standard.
Both decorated champions are looking forward to making their first of two 2014 stops at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The high-banked, quarter-mile dirt oval will host the Outlaws for the 14th time Friday before the series makes its second appearance Saturday at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Friday’s race at River Cities is the first of three this season in North Dakota. Schatz, who grew up in Minot and resides in Fargo, thrilled his home-state fans last August in Grand Forks by not only winning the WoO STP Sprint Car Series A-Feature, but he also captured the Northern Late Model Association (NLRA) feature victory with a final-lap pass. “The Double” was a first for Schatz, who ranks fourth all-time in WoO A-Feature victories with 152. He and Craig Dollansky are the only three-time WoO A-Feature winners at the track. Schatz has three wins and 11 top-four finishes and twice finished seventh. The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J finished third in the Outlaws’ debut at the track in June 2007 before scoring consecutive wins in 2008 and 2009. He finished second following an epic duel with Kinser in August 2011, when the two exchanged the lead nine times during the final eight laps. That race still ranks as one of the best 40-lap A-Features in series history. Last August, he first claimed the NLRA 20-lap main event passing Joey Pederson on the final lap, then led all 40 laps of the WoO A-Feature. That win was his 15th of season and he would end 2013 with a career-best 23.
Kinser has been almost as good as Schatz at River Cities since the Outlaws made it a regular stop on the tour. The 20-time WoO champion is in the midst of the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour” chasing a championship with the series for the final time. The Bloomington, Indiana native will pilot the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim and looks to continue his success at the track. He earned his first victory in June 2010 and second after out-dueling Schatz in August 2011. In June 2012, he led 20 laps of the A-Feature before his son Kraig drove by to take the victory. Later that season, he was again leading the feature but drove over the edge of the track and lost the top spot. Kinser finished third last June and 10th in August. Earlier this season, he picked up his 577th career WoO A-Feature triumph at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida.
The series’ second stop in Fergus Falls Saturday continues the Outlaws’ weekend slate. Last June, the series made its debut and both TSR drivers advanced during the 30-lap A-Feature. Kinser raced from 11th to sixth while Schatz drove from ninth to seventh.
Through 37 of the 92 scheduled nights of action, Schatz is on top of the WoO championship standings. He has 5,234 points and leads Daryn Pittman by six markers. His 2014 stats include five wins, a series-leading 24 top-fives, and he has posted 32 top-10s. Kinser remains in seventh overall with 4,762 points and is 472 points out of first.
Both of this weekend’s WoO STP Sprint Car Series races are being put on by the SLS Promotions group. More information and ticket details are available by contacting SLS Promotions at (815) 344-2023 or by visiting www.SLSPromotions.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 STP Sprint Car 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/Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim:
There are certain tracks where you seem to shine no matter how your season is going. River Cities Speedway is one of those tracks. Can you point to any particular reason why you have done so well there in the past?
“It’s just a fun place to race. We’ve had some good cars up there over the years. Don Mack and all of his people do a great job with that track. The place is packed with fans and it always seems to be a good show. We’ve had some great races up there. Won a few and lost a few. I know we had a good race with Donny there a couple of seasons ago and then, the next year, I thought I had one and Kraig went and drove around me. It’s just a place where you don’t know who is going to win until that checkered flag drops. You almost always seem to have a chance. Even if you don’t qualify great, you can race your way forward. As a driver, that’s all you want. We haven’t been having the kind of results we want the last few weeks, so maybe a night in Grand Forks will do us some good. I’m looking forward to it.”
You’ll be racing at multiple facilities just about every weekend in June. That is the case again this weekend with Friday’s race in Grand Forks and Saturday at I-94. You mentioned your results weren’t where you and the team wanted them to be. If you can right the ship in Grand Forks, can that carry over to I-94?
“I would hope so. You just never know. Every night is a new night but, if we can find something that helps us do well Friday, we’ll try to build on it. I know these Bad Boy Buggies guys have really worked hard to figure out something and they won’t give up until we find it. Things can change quickly and I know we’re all ready to get back to running closer to the front.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J:
Last August, you won both the World of Outlaws A-Feature and the NLRA feature at River Cities. What can you do to top that on Friday?
“I don’t know. That was one of those incredible nights where it all came together. The STP guys gave me a great car and we got the lead on the start and never looked back. I was pretty pumped up after winning the Late Model race. It was just a night where hard work paid off. Grand Forks is a fun track and racing up there offers me the unique chance to run both cars. The Sprint car is my job. The Late Model is just for fun. We got to do both in June and came up short in both, so we just came back and tried to be a little better. That’s the plan for Friday. We’re having a pretty good season in the World of Outlaws. We need to get better and, honestly, River Cities has been a really good track for us to judge where we are. Last August, we were getting on a roll and that was indicative of how raced that night. I’ve run the Late Model a few times this season, so we’ll see where are Friday. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of trying to top what we did last year.”
In the last eight to 10 years, the Outlaws have raced quite a bit in your home area. How much fun is it for you to race close to home?
“There are some incredible racing fans in this area. North Dakota and western Minnesota have a lot of people who grew up coming to Fargo every July to see the World of Outlaws. I know, as a kid, that was the highlight of my summer, to see Doug Wolfgang, Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser race. Things have changed over the years and I wish we still had three days of racing there at Red River Valley Speedway. River Cities has done a great job. We get to compete in Minot in August and, for the second year in a row, we’ll be racing in Fergus Falls. They have a really nice facility there and we’re hoping to finish a little higher than we did last year. The track was fast and I don’t think we had much lapped traffic. I’m lucky to get to race all over the world, but there’s nothing like racing close to home. These fans have been great to me over the years and we’re hoping to keep making them proud for a long time to come.”