After continuous bouts with Mother Nature in March and early April, the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series was finally able to complete a weekend of racing with consecutive nights of action in Missouri and Indiana. Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser each scored a top-five finish for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) while Tony Stewart was solid most of Friday night’s program before a flat right-rear tire ended his bid for a top-five finish. Schatz charged the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J from 19th to finish fourth Friday at the Missouri State Fair Speedway in Sedalia. Kinser finished fifth Saturday aboard the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.
Friday’s program didn’t get off to the kind of start Schatz was hoping for in the Outlaws’ first visit to the half-mile dirt oval in central Missouri since June 2010. He qualified 20th in the field of 27, which put him deep in lineup for both his heat and the 25-lap A-Feature. The four-time WoO champion raced from seventh to fifth in heat two and lined up 19th for the main event. The STP machine was fast in the main event as Schatz maneuvered through the field lap after lap. With eight laps remaining, he began challenging Stewart for fifth. The battle didn’t last long as Stewart stopped with a tire issue following a restart. Schatz moved into fourth when the race resumed and would follow the top three racers – Sammy Swindell, Joey Saldana and Kerry Madsen – to the finish line.
Kinser’s evening in Sedalia was a rollercoaster ride, of sorts. He opened the program by clocking the fastest lap in practice before timing in third overall. A mechanical problem in heat three sent him to the pit area, where the Bass Pro Shops crew determined the problem was in the ignition box. Kinser tried to rejoin the field but the car wouldn’t fire. He was scheduled to start on the pole for the B-Feature, but the mechanical problems continued. The solution was to replace the motor, and Kinser would use a provisional starting position for the A-Feature. “The King of the Outlaws” was able to climb from 25th to 12th in the 25-lap race.
While Kinser and Schatz dealt with some adversity, Stewart was consistent in his third Outlaw start in 2012. He arrived just minutes before he was scheduled to hit the track for practice. He found his rhythm quickly and put the seventh-best lap on the board for qualifying in the TSR No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 J&J. Stewart raced to victory in heat one and finished fourth in the dash to secure a second-row starting spot for the main. He would remain inside the top-five throughout the race until his tire lost air pressure because of a puncture with only a handful of laps remaining. The Office Depot/Mobil 1 crew replaced the tire, but officials had already signed for the race to return to green. He was credited with an 19th-place finish.
Kinser’s racing fortune was better Saturday in southwestern Indiana, only a couple of hours from his home. He once again topped the charts in practice before qualifying seventh. Kinser finished third in heat one and raced wheel-to-wheel with his son Kraig for seventh during the six-lap dash. In the 40-lap feature, the 20-time WoO champion was able to navigate his way through trouble during the first half of the race and he worked his way to the fifth position during the remaining laps. His fifth-place finish was his fifth top-five in 2012.
A better qualifying run was a better beginning to the evening for Schatz at Tri-State. The Fargo, N.D., racer turned the fifth-best lap in the field of 31 cars and followed that up by racing to second in heat two. After finishing sixth in the dash, he began the main event from the outside of row three. Unfortunately, he had to surrender his sixth position on lap four to change a broken left-front shock. The STP crew replaced the shock and Schatz rejoined the field in 22nd. He would then charge forward again, passing 11 cars in the next 11 laps before the race was halted by a red flag. From there, he would battle his way back into the top-10 and ultimately finish ninth.
Craig Dollansky was victorious in the 40-lap race and joined Schatz as one of five drivers to have two WoO A-Feature wins in 2012.
Following the results of the weekend, Schatz ranks second in the 2012 WoO championship standings with 1,511 points. He trails Swindell by 36 markers after 11 of 78 scheduled nights of racing. Kinser continues to rank fifth with 1,485 points.
While Kinser and Schatz battled it out at Tri-State, Stewart was victorious in the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) Midwest Region Icebreaker Challenge Saturday at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway. Stewart, who started fifth, took the lead for good on lap 15 and went on to earn his second career ASCS victory and second Sprint car triumph of 2012.
Racing resumes for Kinser and Schatz this week with three nights of action beginning Wednesday at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway. They will travel west Friday and see if they can duplicate Stewart’s triumph at Eagle Raceway before closing the week at famed Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway Saturday night.