The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series spent a pair nights racing in Kansas last weekend and, despite numerous obstacles, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz were able to continue their climb in the championship standings. Kinser earned his fifth victory of the season Saturday night in the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/ Chevrolet Maxim at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City. Schatz turned in a pair of respectable finishes at Belleville (Kan.) High Banks on Friday and Lakeside Saturday night behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J. Team owner Tony Stewart, who competed in NASCAR’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, joined Kinser and Schatz in the field at Lakeside and finished 12th.
The weekend began in Belleville as the TSR teams took on the famous high-banked, half-mile track. Kinser qualified second in the field and raced to a third-place finish in the second heat. After finishing fifth in the dash, the 20-time WoO champion started the 25-lap A-Feature in the third row. Kinser showed early that he would be a factor in the race’s outcome as he surged into third at the start and later would grab second. Things went south for Kinser on lap 19 when his left-rear tire blew and caused the Bass Pro Shops machine to flip over coming out of turn four. The crew was able to replace the top wing and put on a new tire to allow Kinser to finish the race. During the final six laps, Kinser raced back to finish 12th.
The evening in Belleville didn’t go smoothly for Schatz, either. After timing in 10th, he finished fourth in the first heat. The Fargo, N.D., racer started the main event 11th and used the inside groove to perfection during the early going to climb up to seventh. Following a restart on lap eight, he moved into fifth and began working on the cars running third and fourth. On lap 18, he was coming out of turn four when his left-rear tire blew. The STP crew replaced the tire and Schatz rejoined the field at the tail. During the final seven laps, he was able to work his way to the seventh position.
Saturday’s event at Lakeside marked the fifth time in 2011 that the Outlaws were racing in the same market as NASCAR. A standing-room-only crowd was on hand, and Kinser bounced back from Friday’s disappointment quickly by qualifying third in the field of 28 cars. He raced to victory in the third heat and finished third in the dash. In the 30-lap A-Feature, the Bloomington, Ind., native held his position in third during the first few laps of the race before moving into second. A restart on lap 21 was just what Kinser needed and he took advantage of it by racing past early leader Brian Brown on the restart. He led the final nine laps to earn his series-leading fifth A-Feature triumph of the season and 566th of his career.
Schatz entered Lakeside looking to win at the half-mile, dirt oval for the first time in his career. He qualified eighth before racing to a second-place finish in the second heat. The four-time WoO champion charged from seventh to fourth in the six-lap dash and started the main event on the outside of row two. Early in the race, he made a number of attempts to pass Kinser for third, and lap 13 proved to be unlucky for Schatz. While closing the gap on third-place Cody Darrah, debris from the track hit the left sideboard of his top wing. The damaged wing panel made the car a handful to drive for Schatz, but he maintained fourth until the lap-21 caution. The restart that went so well for Kinser didn’t work out the same for Schatz, who lost two positions. He would remain in sixth during the final laps of the race to salvage another top-10 finish.
Stewart continued his World of Outlaws education by driving a third TSR entry in the Lakeside program. Stewart narrowly missed the heat race inversion by qualifying the TSR No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1/Chevrolet J&J 13th in the field. The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion raced to a sixth-place finish in the opening heat and started the A-Feature in the 13th position. The Columbus, Ind., native spent most of the race trying to work his way inside the top-10 and finished a respectable 12th.
The first two of eight June WoO races tightened the season-long WoO championship standings. Schatz crept closer to 2011 WoO championship standings leader Joey Saldana. He ranks second with 2,761 points, just 13 points out of first. Saturday’s win helped Kinser close in as well. He remains third with 2,747 points, 27 behind Saldana.
Schatz and Kinser will return to the track this weekend with the Mediacom Shootout doubleheader scheduled at the historic Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. Two complete programs will be contested – one Friday and another Saturday – and it will be the only time the Outlaws are scheduled to compete at the track in advance the sport’s biggest race, the Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, which take place August 10-13.