Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz continued his torrid pace last week in World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series action by racing the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J to victory in a pair of WoO races and added a second-place finish another as the Outlaws raced in Nebraska and North Dakota. TSR’s Steve Kinser closed the week with a top-five run aboard the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim after experiencing bad luck in the first two WoO races of the week.
“We had a phenomenal week with the STP team,” Schatz said following Sunday’s triumph at Nodak Speedway in Minot, N.D., his hometown track. “The team is unbelievable right now. Everyone is so pumped up to be working on this team and giving me a great car to drive every night. It’s everybody, and having partners like STP, Chevrolet and Armor All on board just makes it all so exciting. Everyone is having a lot of fun right now and we’re hoping it continues for the rest of the year.”
Schatz was anxious to prove his Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals success the previous week was no fluke. Less than 72 hours after scoring his sixth Nationals crown, he was standing in victory lane once again. The four-time WoO champion led the way in the Outlaws’ return to Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. Schatz posted the fourth-best qualifying lap and raced to second in the dash to earn a front-row starting spot next to Brian Brown, who finished a close second to Schatz in the Nationals A-Main three nights earlier. Brown led the first lap, but from there it was all Schatz as he manuvered through the field with ease, racing the low line, the high side and even the middle groove when needed as he lapped up to seventh place in the non-stop 30-lap race.
Kinser’s night in the Bass Pro Shops machine started when “The King of the Outlaws” qualified ninth in the field of 20 cars. He then scored a victory in heat three, gained two positions in the dash, and started the A-Feature sixth. Trouble struck early, however, as the TSR No. 11 machine began smoking heavily 10 laps into the A-Feature. Kinser would maintain his position inside the top-10 throughout the race and, on the final lap, his left-rear tire exploded going down the backstretch. He would limp across the finish line and was scored ninth.
Friday night’s venue was a return to River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. The track was the site of an epic battle between Kinser and Schatz in August 2011. Both were involved in the outcome again on the high-banked, quarter-mile dirt oval. Schatz began the evening by picking up his second fast qualifier award as he paced the 37-car field. The Fargo, N.D., resident raced from fourth to third in the opening heat and from sixth to third in the dash. Schatz was looking to earn his third consecutive WoO A-Feature and quickly joined the fight for the lead in the 40-lap race by challenging front-row starters Cody Darrah and Sammy Swindell. Two laps into the race, Schatz also had to battle Kinser, who had qualified 15th, won the third heat and finished fifth in the dash. Kinser, Swindell and Schatz made it a three-car battle for the lead with Kinser leading laps three through 12 before Swindell got back past him.
While Kinser and Swindell were battling one another, Schatz tried to sneak under both to claim the top spot. Kinser led again on lap 16, but disaster struck on lap 17 when he spun off the edge of the track. After the restart, Swindell would lead the field back to green with Schatz running second. The track began taking rubber during the final 15 laps and Schatz followed Swindell’s tracks until two laps remained. Schatz would try an outside move around Swindell for the win but couldn’t pull it off. Kinser, who restarted 21st after his spin, charged back to finish 12th.
The final race of the week Nodak Speedway in Schatz’s hometown was the seventh-ever WoO event at the 3/8-mile dirt oval and Schatz was still seeking his first victory there. He qualified fourth in the field of 30 cars and finished third in the opening heat. The STP driver would race from third to second in the dash and share the front row for the 35-lap A-Feature with current WoO point leader Craig Dollansky. Dollansky got the jump on the opening lap, but Schatz powered around him on lap two and would lead the final 34 laps and earn his first-ever Minot WoO A-Feature win. The victory was his seventh of the season and his 120th career A-Feature triumph.
Kinser put together a solid night in Minot driving the Bass Pro Shops machine. The 20-time WoO champion qualified ninth, won the third heat and finished eighth in the dash. He charged forward in the main event, working his way into the top-five by passing Jason Sides, Kerry Madsen and Swindell. At one point, he closed on Stevie Smith, who was running third, but couldn’t grab the final position on the podium.
Through 52 of 73 scheduled races this season, Schatz trails Dollansky by 20 markers in the 2012 WoO championship standings. Schatz’s seven victories is second only to Swindell’s nine and his 41 top-10s leads all competitors. Kinser currently ranks fourth and trails Dollansky by only 53 points.
The TSR teams will venture back into Canada this week for the sixth annual Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta on Friday and Saturday. Kinser and Schatz each won A-Features at Castrol during the inaugural Oil City Cup in 2007 and both are hoping to return to victory lane in the Outlaws’ final 2012 races north of the border.