The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series opened its annual spring tour out West last weekend and Steve Kinser led the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) contingent with a pair of third-place finishes. Kinser was joined in the top-10 in Thursday’s event at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by team owner Tony Stewart, who finished eighth, and fellow TSR racer, Donny Schatz, who finished ninth. Kinser picked up another third-place finish on Saturday when the Outlaws returned to Southern California for the first time since the fall of 2007.
Kinser opened the action in Las Vegas by qualifying the No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim 15th overall. A fourth-place finish in heat two earned Kinser a starting position in the 30-lap A Feature. Despite starting in the seventh row, he quickly worked his way inside the top-10 during the opening laps. The 20-time WoO champion continued his climb inside the top-five throughout the race and, with five laps remaining, he battled his way to third. Despite a pair of late restarts, third was the highest he could reach as Tim Kaeding would score the win driving the Roth Motorsports machine. The finish was Kinser’s first top-five in four 2012 WoO starts.
Stewart began his busy weekend of racing in Las Vegas by making his second WoO start of the 2012 season in the TSR No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 J&J. He circled the half-mile dirt oval 12th-best in the field of 26 cars before finishing sixth in heat three. In the main event, he dropped back early from his 12th-place starting spot but found his groove midway through the race. His charge forward was halted when a right-rear tire blew, but his night wasn’t finished as the TSR crew bolted on a fresh right-rear and sent him back onto the track. The new tire helped immensely as he raced inside the top-10 and ultimately up to fifth before the final restart of the race. Things didn’t go as planned, however, when the green flag flew and he would finish eighth.
Schatz, driver of the No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J for TSR, led the WoO into Las Vegas as the points leader following his strong start in Florida. Unfortunately, his qualifying laps placed him 17th in the field. After racing to fourth in heat two, he started the A-Feature from 17th. Early in the race, the four-time champion was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time as Sammy Swindell had a mechanical problem that caused him to stop directly in front of Schatz. The caution slowed the action and, when the race resumed, Schatz restarted 21st and began working his way forward again. Throughout the rest of the race, Schatz looked for the fastest way around the track, passing a number of cars along the way. In the end, he would follow Stewart across the line and score his fourth top-10 finish in four 2012 WoO starts.
Following the event in Las Vegas, Kinser and Schatz headed west for the NAPA Know How SoCal Showdown at Perris Auto Speedway in Lake Perris, Calif. Kinser timed in 12th in the field of 26 cars and then raced to a second-place finish in heat three. The finish earned him a spot in the dash, where he raced from 10th to seventh. In the 30-lap feature, Kinser made his way inside the top-five and up to third but couldn’t catch front-row starters Joey Saldana and Jason Meyers, who finished first and second.
Things didn’t go much better for Schatz after he left Las Vegas. His qualifying lap at Perris ranked him 18th. He did everything he could in heat three to capture one of the coveted first two finishing positions in the eight-lap race. Schatz started sixth and worked his way into third behind Kinser but did not place high enough to earn a spot in the dash. The finish did qualify him for the 30-lap main event, however. Throughout the feature, Schatz wasn’t able gain the ground on the field that he hoped to and finished 15th.
Following the results of the weekend, Schatz ranks second in the 2012 WoO championship standings with 690 points, trailing Swindell by 15 markers after five of 78 scheduled nights of racing. Kinser entered Las Vegas in 13th and now ranks seventh with 662 points.
Next up for TSR is a pair of races at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., on Friday and Saturday.