INDIANAPOLIS (May 30, 2012) – Life on the road with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series can be defined as one challenge after another. The variables are numerous and no two nights of racing are ever the same. That’ll be the case again this weekend as the series ventures to Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park Friday and I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., Saturday. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz are on top of the championship standings heading into the weekend, but staying there so far in 2012 has been anything but easy.
Kinser begins his second straight week of action on top of the standings aboard the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/ Chevrolet Maxim. The 20-time WoO champion leads Schatz by 26 points heading into Friday night’s Kistler Engines Classic at Attica. Schatz, who won last year’s WoO event at Attica behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, has led the standings on five occasions already in 2012.
The victory for Schatz at Attica last May was his second in his last three starts at the 1/3-mile dirt oval. The four-time WoO champion was also victorious in May 2008 and led the first 31 laps of the WoO event at Attica in May 2009 before being collected by a lapped car. Last year, Schatz led the final 39 laps of the A-Feature to score his first victory of the season. The victory wasn’t earned without drama as Schatz had to endure a number of restarts to secure the victory.
Kinser finished sixth in last year’s WoO event at Attica, where, the first time he turned laps in the summer of 1989, the Bloomington, Ind., racer won the inaugural Brad Doty Classic. That victory was the first of four consecutive triumphs at Attica. He won the Outlaws’ first visit to the track in May 1990 and was a winner again in August 1991.
Saturday’s race at I-96 will be the Outlaws’ 11th appearance at the track, but it will be the first since the track was reconfigured from a half-mile to a 3/8-mile track. The facility has always presented challenges to the Outlaw teams, and this year’s stop will be no different. Kinser won three WoO A-Features on the I-96 half-mile but, the past two years, he’s experienced misfortune. In May 2010, “The King of the Outlaws” was running inside the top-10 when he blew a right-rear tire. Last May, he crashed hard following a double-file restart and ended up breaking multiple bones in his left hand.
A runner-up finish during the 2008 season is the best result for Schatz at I-96. He’s earned five top-10s in nine starts at the Michigan dirt oval. Two years ago, he was racing in the third position when he lost a left-rear tire before returning to finish 12th. Last year, Schatz put together a consistent evening and finished fourth.
The TSR tandem is coming off races in Charlotte, N.C., and Lawrenceburg, Ind. Schatz finished second in the Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kinser blew a tire and finished 13th in Charlotte but bounced back by racing to fourth Monday night in Lawrenceburg.
Friday at Attica Raceway Park, the pit gates will open at 3:30 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. For more details, contact Attica Raceway Park at (419) 680-5606. The official Web site of Attica Raceway Park is www.atticaracewaypark.com.
Saturday at I-96 Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, contact I-96 Speedway at (616) 642-0555. The official Web site of I-96 Speedway is www.i96speedway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim:
The first four months of the season have offered just about everything. After a slow start, you’ve climbed to the top of the point standings. What’s the key to staying up there?
“The biggest thing is we are in the mix right now. I’ve always said you can look at the standings when June rolls around and pretty much tell who is going to be part of the championship race. After our start in Florida, I sure didn’t know if we were going to catch up. The Bass Pro Shops guys just kept plugging away. We had a really good run through Pennsylvania and New York and some of the other guys had a tough time and that allowed us to close the gap. It still goes back to working hard every night. We’re going to have good nights and some bad nights, too. I just hope we have more of the good ones. We’re just happy to be in the conversation right now.”
The weekend ahead includes races at Attica Raceway Park and I-96 Speedway – two distinctively different tracks. In your opinion, what will it take for this to be a successful weekend?
“It starts with qualifying. Attica always has a lot of cars and the track usually gets slower as qualifying goes along. It’s usually pretty racy by the end of the night, but you have to be there at the end. As far as Saturday goes, I guess they reshaped the track, so we’ll have to try and figure it out like everyone else. I hate that we lost another half-mile, but I know a lot of these tracks are looking out for their weekly racers. I’m sure they’ll do everything they can to give us a good track to race on.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
If there is one thing that has been consistent for you and the STP team so far in 2012, what would you say that has been?
“Well, I’d say our desire to win has been consistent throughout. We’ve been challenged this year like no other. Things have been tough at every turn, yet we’re still fighting every day to get better. The toughest thing is trying to find out exactly what is holding us back. Obviously, our biggest problem right now is getting qualified. It’s an uphill battle every night from the heat race on. I told my guys the other night after our heat race that I really feel like we can win some races if we could just get qualified a little better. It’ll come.”
The schedule is challenging every week, and this week you head to Attica and I-96. What do you expect at each?
“I know there should be a great field of cars at Attica. I think last year we had almost 60 cars and a lot of that had to do with their promoter taking care of their regulars. That’s a great deal when your own track makes you a priority. It’s going to be a big challenge. Those guys there are really good. We’ve been fortunate to lead the last three features we’ve run there and won two of them. We are going to have to get a good qualifying time and take it from there. It gets slick and I really enjoy racing on those types of tracks. As far as I-96 goes, we’ll just have to see what it looks like. We switched Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo (N.D.) from a half-mile to a 3/8-mile a couple of years ago and it takes some time to get it just right. Hopefully, we’ll be able to adapt to the new shape pretty quickly and have a good night.”