The hottest driver on the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series tour continued his assault on dirt tracks in his home state of North Dakota this past weekend. Tony Stewart Racing’s Donny Schatz posted a runner-up finish Friday night at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks and scored his third straight victory at Nodak Speedway in his hometown of Minot Sunday behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J. Those finishes followed victories earlier in the week at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Nebraska, and last Saturday night’s 54th FVP Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals. The five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has now finished on the podium in each of the last 12 WoO A-Feature races.
TSR’s Steve Kinser earned consecutive top-10 finishes in the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim before the rear end failed Sunday night early in the A-Feature where Kinser was looking to make it three straight top-10s and continue the 2014 World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour” with momentum heading into Canada.
The “Duel in the Dakotas” weekend began with Friday’s stop at River Cities. It was the second stop in 2014 at the high-banked quarter-mile, dirt oval. Schatz, winner of the June stop at the track, began his evening by turning the fifth-best lap in qualifying in the field of 36 cars. The Fargo, North Dakota resident finished third in the opening heat and transferred into the 40-lap A-Feature. Kinser was one spot behind Schatz in qualifying and finished third in heat two. The TSR teammates shared the fifth row for the main event that was plagued by a number of cautions early. When the race resumed on lap 18, Schatz had worked his way inside the top-five and then climbed into third by lap 25 and began reeling in leaders Daryn Pittman and Kraig Kinser. He used lapped traffic to get past the younger Kinser and then set his sights on Pittman. With five laps to go, Schatz continued to pressure Pittman, but a caution with three laps to go took them out of lapped traffic. Despite a last-lap attempt to gain the top spot by Schatz, Pittman prevailed and took home the victory. Kinser maintained his position inside the top-10 throughout the race and finished ninth.
Schatz led the Outlaws back to his hometown of Minot for the eighth time in the last nine years. He emerged as an early favorite after qualifying second in the field of 23 cars. Kinser won the second heat to grab one of the eight coveted spots in the dash. Schatz finished third in dash and Kinser was seventh. A brief rain shower after the dash delayed the 35-lap A-Feature for 30 minutes, but the extra moisture made for a lightning-fast surface. Joey Saldana took the early lead and Schatz quickly moved his way into second. Kinser’s night came to an end just six laps into the race when a rear-end mechanical failure forced him to the pit area. Saldana would lead the first 26 laps before Schatz made his move to grab the lead. One lap after taking the lead a caution slowed the pace. Schatz pulled away during the final seven laps to capture his 15th victory of 2014 and 161st of his career.
The results from the weekend allowed Schatz to extend his lead in the WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship standings to 154 points over Pittman. Schatz leads the series with 15 victories, 44 top-fives, and is tied for most top-10s with 57. Kinser remains eighth in the standings with one victory, eight top-fives and 31 top-10s.
The TSR teams will remain in North Dakota for the week before making their second Canadian tour this weekend in Edmonton, Alberta. The duo will race Friday and Saturday nights in the Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway.