Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz and the rest of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series stars made their final laps in the Midwest for 2011 on Saturday night at Fremont (Ohio) Speedway. Schatz led 12 of the first 13 laps of the 40-lap A-Feature in the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J before ultimately finishing fourth, while Kinser bounced back from an accident in the opening heat and raced the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/ Chevrolet Maxim from 15th to 10th.
Saturday’s stop at Fremont marked the first time the Outlaws have competed at the facility since 1993 and the first time ever for Schatz. The four-time WoO champion quickly took a liking to the 1/3-mile dirt oval. He turned the fastest laps during hot laps and backed it up by making the third-best lap in qualifications. By timing third in the field of 39 cars, Schatz earned the fourth starting position in the third heat. The Fargo, N.D., resident would finish third in the 10-lap heat and start the eight-lap dash on the front row. He dominated the dash to earn his sixth pole position of the season. Schatz led the first six laps of the A-Feature and then exchanged the lead with Jason Meyers on laps seven and eight. He would lead the next five laps as the duo continued racing through traffic. Meyers retook the lead on lap 14 and would stay there the rest of the way to earn the victory. Schatz held third late in the race but lost the position when he made a move for second place and drifted over the banking. He would regain control and finish fourth.
Kinser was the first of 39 cars to make a qualifying lap in Saturday’s program. His lap was 13th-best and put him on the front row of heat one. “The King of the Outlaws” had nowhere to go early in heat when 2011 Fremont track champion Bryan Sebetto spun directly in front of him. Kinser, who was looking to finish first or second to earn a position in the dash, restarted in eighth and charged back to finish fifth. The finish transferred him into the A-Feature. Despite starting deep in the field, Kinser patiently worked his way forward and finished 10th. It was his 48th top-10 in 62 WoO starts this season.
Only three races remain on the 2011 WoO slate. Schatz leads Kinser by three points in their battle for second in the season-ending title chase. The championship-leading Meyers has pulled away from the TSR duo, leading Schatz by 267 points and Kinser by 270 markers. Schatz has six A-Feature wins, 30 top-fives and 49 top-10s. Kinser’s nine wins tie him with Meyers and Craig Dollansky for most in the series.
The TSR teams will return to action Saturday night at the Talladega (Ala.) Short Track. The Sage Fruit Showdown marks the first time the WoO stars will compete on the high-banked, clay oval since April 2004. Kinser won two of the previous seven WoO A-Features at Talladega.