For the first time since 2011, Kraig Kinser has rolled into Knoxville Nationals without the number “11” on his car.
The 2005 Knoxville Nationals champion, of Bloomington, IN, has partnered with Premier Motorsports to pilot their #70, rather than bring out his own #11K, for his 20th attempt at The Granddaddy of ‘Em All.
“They had a car they wanted to bring to Knoxville, and I felt like they gave me a better shot than my stuff did,” Kinser said. “Just kind of worked its way out. It was a late decision but hopefully it works out.”
He got laps in the car during the Ironman 55 weekend with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. While they didn’t make the Feature the first night, they came back for the 55-lap Ironman race and finished 13th in their first Feature together.
“We’re trying to get going quick,” Kinser said. “There’s a lot of good cars here at [Knoxville Raceway]. A lot of cars that have been running all year. We have quite a little catch up, but hopefully we’ll find some speed here early.
“I feel like [the team and I] have gelled pretty well. I think if we find some speed, we’ll all be happy and we’ll all get along.”
At the moment, he has no specific goals for the weekend. Everything will be step by step. The first step will be to get through Low-E Insulation Qualifying and evaluate where they need to go from there.
The last time Kinser made the Knoxville Nationals A-Main was in 2015, finishing 15th after starting 25th. However, Kinser did win a Nationals Prelim Feature in 2016.
Kinser was initially set for another full-time run with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series this year, but after the season opener in Florida decided he needed to take a step back and rebuild his program. Since then, he’s made eight starts with the Series – his best finish being his 13th at the Ironman in the #70.
During his time away, Kinser pointed to the most important thing he’s learned.
“I still love Sprint Car racing,” he said.
With that, he hasn’t lost the edge to compete and the eagerness to be at a racetrack. He’s continuing to fine tune his own #11K with hopes of seeing it back in Victory Lane again and again – which he’s already done once this year, winning with the Ti22 Performance FAST On Dirt tour at Montpelier Motor Speedway in June.
But at the moment, when it comes to the next step for his #11K, Kinser said, “I don’t know.”
A good run at the 62nd NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s could help him figure it out, though.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.