Bloomington, Ind. — Feb. 20, 2012 — Kraig Kinser had a couple of goals heading into the season-opening 41st Annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. First, he wanted to run up front and be a contender for wins, which he did on two of the nights of racing. Second, he wanted to be consistent and build a solid foundation for the remainder of the nearly 80-race season, which he also did, racing his way into all five main events during the week of action and racking up three Top-10 finishes.
“We had a pretty good week,” said Kinser. “We overcame some adversity a couple of nights and everyone worked hard and we learned a lot that we’ll be able to use throughout the year. We gained more speed throughout the week and were consistent as well, which is always a good thing. All in all it was a good trip to Florida.”
Kinser opened the DIRTcar Nationals with a runner-up finish with the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions on Wednesday, February 15. He jumped to the lead after starting on the pole and paced the first 18 circuits, before Danny Lasoski got around him in lapped traffic. Kraig led all six laps to win the dash over his father Steve to earn the pole for the 30-lap main event. He opened the night by turning the 12th-fastest lap in time trials, which lined him up fourth in the fourth heat race, where he would finish third.
“I don’t like going backwards in a race, but it was a good run,” said Kinser. “Going through lapped traffic I was really abusing my tires trying to split cars. It was a good run for the first night of the season and certainly something to build on.”
The third-generation driver finished 12th on the second night of the event, in another race sanctioned by the All Stars. Kinser began the night by turning in the second-fastest lap in time trials and followed that with a sixth-place finish in second heat. He raced his way through the B-main into the 30-lap main event.
On the opening night of the World of Outlaws season on Saturday, Feb. 18, Kinser and his team battled through adversity all night. After ignition box problems forced him to miss his spot in the qualifying order, he timed in 20th. In the fourth heat race, Kraig took his car back to the pits after one lap and his crew began an engine swap to be ready for the B-Main, where he would finish second to earn a spot in the 30-lap main event. He would line up 19th for the first feature of 2012 and would finish in that same position.
“It was certainly not the way we wanted to start the Outlaws season,” shared Kinser. “We had trouble in time trials and that put us behind the eight-ball and we just had to kind of scramble all night. You’ll have those nights sometimes and all we can do is learn from it and move on.”
A doubleheader was on tap on Sunday, after Friday’s race was postponed by rain. Kinser finished eighth in the Sunday afternoon portion of the event. He lined 21st and steadily worked his way forward in the 20-lap contest, earning the KSE Race Products Hard Charger Award in the process. Kraig opened the afternoon by turning the 20th-fastest laps in time trials and finished fifth in the fourth heat race to earn a spot in the A-Feature.
“For the conditions we had, it was a pretty good run,” said. Kinser. “You certainly had to try your best to take care of your tires. We were able to gain a few spots when a few guys lost tires and in cases like that, you just keep your fingers crossed that you can finish the race.”
In the finale on Sunday night, Kinser turned the fifth-fastest lap in time trials. He followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the first heat race, which helped him earn a spot in the dash. Kraig would finish fifth in the dash to start on the inside of the third row for the 25-lap main event. He ran sixth in the early going before moving back into the Top-Five. He made his way to fourth on the 12th lap and charged into the Top-Three on the 13th circuit as he closed on leader Craig Dollansky and second-place running Donny Schatz. David Gravel got around him on the 16th go-around and Kraig would hold the fourth spot for the remainder of the race.
“It was a very good way to wrap up the week, with a solid finish,” said Kinser. “I got up to third and we were all racing pretty hard there in traffic. To pick up a couple of Top-Fives against the tough field that was there, I am very happy. We had a number of things we wanted to work on in Florida and certainly have some momentum as we head west.”
Kinser, who is currently tied for the ninth spot in points, will return to action on Thursday, March 8 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas, as the World of Outlaws begin an eight-race stretch during the month of March on the West Coast.