The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series kicked off a busy slate of July races with three events last week, and Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz experienced an eventful ride through the Upper Midwest. Kinser returned to the lead in the 2012 WoO championship standings following top-10s Tuesday at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D., Friday at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., and Saturday at Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway. Schatz charged forward both Tuesday and Saturday and trails Kinser by eight points in the standings.

The annual stop at Huset’s traditionally offers plenty of fireworks. Kinser opened the festivities at the 3/8 mile dirt oval by qualifying the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim 12th overall. The 20-time WoO champion raced away to win heat three and finished seventh in the dash. In the A-Feature, a flat right-rear tire on lap six cost him a spot inside the top-10. The Bass Pro Shops crew replaced the tire and Kinser rejoined the field. An eight-car accident on the ensuing restart allowed Kinser to move up to 12th when the race finally was able to resume. He would pass four more cars on the rocket-fast surface during the final 20 laps to finish eighth.

Schatz was the 23rd of 24 cars to make a qualifying lap, and the Fargo, N.D., racer timed in ninth. He started the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J next to Kinser in heat three and finished third in the 10-lap race. The finish qualified him for the 35-lap A-Feature, where he started 12th. The four-time WoO champion jumped into the top-10 early in the race but couldn’t avoid the crash scene during the lap-six restart. A broken right-rear birdcage had to be replaced in order for him to return and, after the STP crew replaced the broken parts, Schatz raced from 13th to eighth.

Mark Dobmeier, a regular competitor at Huset’s, earned the popular win by racing to victory in the 35-lap race.

Friday’s venue was Cedar Lake Speedway and both TSR drivers were looking to return to victory lane at the 3/8-mile dirt oval. For the second consecutive event, Kinser qualified 12th overall. He raced to an early lead in heat three and was in second when a yellow slowed the action on lap eight. He was ruled to have jumped the ensuing restart and was put back a row on the starting grid. He would finish third to transfer into the 35-lap A-Feature. “The King of the Outlaws” started the main event 13th and, despite a couple of early cautions, was able to reach eighth. On lap 25, he got loose coming out of turn three and spun completely around but kept the Bass Pro Shops machine going. Kinser would finish ninth.
The program didn’t start or end well for Schatz Friday. He qualified 18th in the field of 28 cars but his fortune did turn around in heat three. After starting sixth, he was in fourth position just behind Kinser on the restart where Kinser was called for jumping. That moved Schatz up to second and he took advantage of the opportunity and finished second. The finish earned him a spot in the dash, where he raced from 10th to sixth. In the feature, he was quickly on the move passing Joey Saldana and Dobmeier to take fourth. He remained fourth until a caution on lap 28. When the race resumed, he started dropping positions each lap. His right-rear tire was going bald and he ended up 13th at the finish.

Tim Kaeding was Friday’s winner and became the fifth driver in 2012 to earn three WoO A-Feature victories.

The week of racing concluded Saturday in central Wisconsin at Beaver Dam Raceway. Kinser was the 28th of 30 cars to hit the track for qualifying and he ended up eighth on the grid. He led every lap of heat two and the dash to earn the pole position for the 40-lap A-Feature. Kinser continued to set the pace around the 1/3-mile dirt oval, leading the first half of the race. On lap 24, Kinser was held up in lapped traffic and his son Kraig took over the top spot. Kinser tried to keep pace with his son but ended up having his hands full trying to fend off Schatz for second. With four laps remaining, Schatz passed Kinser, dropping him back to a third-place finish.

Schatz went out midway through the qualifying order and ended up 10th in the final standings. He dominated the opening heat and finished seventh in the dash. Schatz started the A-Feature from the inside of row four and methodically worked his way up to third by lap 25. He closed in on his TSR teammate and the two battled for several laps before Schatz was able pass Kinser using the high side of turn four with four laps remaining. He spent the final three laps trying to catch Kraig Kinser and, on the final lap, closed the gap significantly but wasn’t able to make a move for the win. The runner-up finish was his best since May 25 when he was second at Charlotte.

Kinser and Schatz entered the week trailing Sammy Swindell in the standings and, after Tuesday’s race, Swindell 20 ahead of Kinser and 22 ahead of Schatz. When the dust settled Saturday, Kinser was on top with an eight-point advantage over Schatz with Swindell 17 back in third.

The focus this week turns to Ohio, where the action begins Wednesday with the Brad Doty Classic at Limaland Raceway Park in Lima. The 29th annual Kings Royal Weekend takes place Friday and Saturday at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.