The World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series closed out a stretch of eight races in 10 nights over the weekend with three races in California, and Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz continued his championship aspirations with three top-six finishes at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico and at Antioch Speedway. The five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion charged forward in the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J both nights of the 61st annual Gold Cup Race of Champions, then closed the weekend with his series-best 53rd top-five finish Sunday.
TSR’s Steve Kinser opened the weekend with an impressive fourth-place finish at Silver Dollar Speedway aboard the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim. The 20-time WoO champion made his final appearances in California as a series regular and continued the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour” but wasn’t able to finish Saturday or Sunday’s A-Features because of contact.
Both TSR drivers ventured to California looking to win the prestigious Gold Cup for the first time in nearly a decade. Kinser, a 12-time Gold Cup winner, last won the event in 2005 and started his weekend on the quarter-mile dirt oval by qualifying 12th and winning the fourth heat to earn a spot in the six-lap dash. Despite starting the dash eighth, “The King of the Outlaws” advanced three positions and would start the 30-lap A-Feature inside of row three. Kinser was a top-five contender throughout the A-Feature and had a spirited battle with Paul McMahan for third while Carson Macedo and Daryn Pittman exchanged the top spot. McMahan would ultimately take the third spot and Kinser finished fourth. Schatz, the 2004 Gold Cup champion, began his quest for his 21st victory of the season by qualifying 18th in the field of 40 cars. He finished sixth in heat three and had to earn his spot in the A-Feature by racing his way through the B-Feature. Schatz patiently worked his way forward in the 30-lap A-Feature, climbing as high as fifth late in the race and challenging Kinser for fourth before Kyle Hirst snuck past him with two laps remaining. Schatz would finish sixth and earn his 22nd consecutive top-10 finish.
In Saturday’s Gold Cup finale, Kinser was the first car to make a qualifying lap and he timed in 12th overall while Schatz ended up 20th on the final grid. Both drivers were in heat four but went in opposite directions. Kinser started seventh but fought an ill-handling machine in the 10-lap race and finished seventh. Schatz started fifth and drove his way to second to earn a transfer spot into the 40-lap A-Feature. Kinser raced his way through the B-Feature to qualify for the main event. The race was filled with a number of cautions and plenty of contact as the 24 cars maneuvered the tight, sticky track. Kinser’s night came to an end on lap 22, when he was involved in a three-car accident in turn two. Schatz started 19th and spent the first half of the race deep in the field before he began one of his patented marches forward. With 10 laps to go, he was inside the top-10 and worked his way into fifth by lap 35, where he would finish.
Following two nights in Chico, the Outlaws made their way to the Bay area for the final California stop in 2014 at Antioch Speedway. Schatz was the first car to make a qualifying lap on the high-banked, 3/8-mile dirt oval and he ended up seventh overall. A dominant victory in heat one followed and earned the STP driver one of the eight spots in the dash. He started sixth and advanced to fourth in the dash to earn a second-row starting spot in the 30-lap feature. Kinser qualified 14th and transferred into the main event through his heat, but contact five laps into the race sent the Bad Boy Buggies machine to the pit area. Damage was too severe for Kinser to continue and he was credited with 23rd. On the ensuing restart, Schatz was able to avoid disaster after being contacted by Shane Stewart heading into turns one and two. Schatz bounced off Pittman and continued in fourth. The race went nonstop following the early caution and Schatz would hold fourth throughout.
Winners of the weekend’s WoO events were Macedo Friday, Jonathan Allard Saturday and Kerry Madsen Sunday.
Schatz leads the Outlaws back to the Midwest this week with a 196-point lead in the 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship standings. He has 10,374 points and leads the series with 20 wins, 53 top-fives, 67 top-10s, 392 laps led and 12 KSE Hard Charger Awards. Kinser ranks eighth in the standings with 9,172 points.
The TSR teams resume action Friday at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, and Saturday at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota.