Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz returned to a pair of famous dirt ovals this past weekend as the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series made its first stop of 2014 in the Upper Midwest. Schatz led the two-car team with a second-place finish Friday at Jackson (Minn.) Speedway and charged from 21st to 11th Saturday at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. Kinser finished 16th at Jackson and 22nd at Knoxville.
Schatz entered the weekend hoping to duplicate his 2013 sweep of the Jackson-Knoxville WoO doubleheader. He got off to a good start by qualifying the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J second in the field of 29 competitors. The five-time WoO champion raced from fourth to second in heat two before really making noise in the six-lap dash, where stormed from fifth to second. He shared the front row with Joey Saldana for the 30-lap A-Feature, where getting into turn one first proved to be the difference in the outcome. Saldana was able to beat Schatz to the first corner and protected the low groove throughout the race. Despite the rubber-down surface, Schatz closed in on Saldana’s bumper several times but he couldn’t make a move for the lead. The pair would finish first and second.
Kinser, a four-time Jackson winner, was making his final appearance at the half-mile, dirt oval as he continues the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour.” The 20-time champion was behind the wheel of the familiar TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim. “The King of the Outlaws” qualified 18th, finished sixth in heat three and got in line during the A-Feature and finished 16th.
The action continued Saturday at legendary Knoxville Raceway. Both TSR drivers were looking to add to their impressive lists of accomplishments at the famed half-mile, dirt oval located on the Marion County Fairgrounds. Kinser opened his night by timing in seventh fastest and qualified for the 25-lap A-Feature by finishing fifth in heat three. During the main event, Kinser started 11th but couldn’t move forward early and eventually got in line in the rubber late in the race. He would finish 22nd. A late qualifying number didn’t help Schatz’s chances of a repeat of his victory last June. The Fargo, North Dakota racer was the 45th of 49 competitors to circle the half-mile oval against the clock. His lap ended up being 29th-best and lined up the seven-time Knoxville Nationals champion eighth in the opening heat. In the eight-lap heat, he drove up to fourth to grab a transfer spot into the A-Feature. Schatz didn’t get a great start but, as the race went along, he picked off positions each circuit. His climb would get him to 11th at the finish.
The 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series schedule now has 37 of 92 scheduled race nights complete. With this past weekend’s results, Schatz continues to lead the championship standings. He has amassed 5,234 points and is six markers ahead of Daryn Pittman. Schatz has posted five wins and a series-best 24 top-fives and 32 top-10s. Kinser continues to rank seventh in the standings with 4,762 points.
The WoO tour through the Upper Midwest continues this week with races Friday at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota and Saturday at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.