INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 3, 2012) – As a driver leading the race, the only thing better than seeing the flagman give the “five-to-go” signal is seeing the checkered flag. Saturday’s World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series race at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y., represents the five-races-to-go signal for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz, who is closing in on his fifth WoO title.
The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J will lead rest of the Outlaws to Rolling Wheels for the second time in 2012. For the fourth consecutive October, the Outlaws’ late-season event in New York has become part of the annual NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week festivities. Schatz, who carries a 158-point lead with five races remaining, heads to the central New York 5/8-mile dirt oval on a roll following last Saturday’s historic triumph in the 50th annual Morgan Hughes National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The Fargo, N.D., racer became the only driver to win the prestigious event five times, snapping a tie with his TSR teammate Steve Kinser.
Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, leads all drivers with 11 WoO A-Feature wins at Rolling Wheels. “The King of the Outlaws” trails Schatz by 283 points in this year’s title chase, so his immediate goal this weekend is to end a winless streak that dates back to mid-June and become a 12-time winner at Rolling Wheels.
The Bloomington, Ind., native first won at the central New York oval in June 1981 and won again there two years later. During the 1990 WoO season, Kinser won both in May and October and made it four wins in a row by coming back and winning again in June 1991 and June 1992. Four more victories were earned during the Outlaws’ annual May run through New York between 1995 and 2008. In 2009, the WoO scheduled an October stop in conjunction with Super DIRT Week races at the nearby New York State Fairgrounds. Kinser, who competed on the Syracuse (N.Y.) Mile early in his career, won the Sprint car portion of Super DIRT Week first in 1980 and then in 1986, 1988, 1992 and 1995. He continued his late-season New York success in 2010 by winning the Outlaws’ 25-lap A-Feature at Rolling Wheels.
Defeating Kinser anywhere has been a goal for Schatz throughout his 16-year WoO career. Schatz will always remember June 2, 2004, not because it was Kinser’s 50th birthday, but because it was the night of his first victory at Rolling Wheels. Schatz passed Kinser for the lead late in the race and earned the victory and denied Kinser a victory on his milestone birthday. Two years later, Schatz scored his second victory at the track he recalls being nicknamed “Spinning Wheels.” His victory in May 2006 began a stretch of five consecutive podium finishes, including a pair of second-place runs in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, he took the lead from Tim Shaffer only to have Shaffer reclaim the spot following a late restart. In 2010, he was the fastest qualifier in the 31-car field and raced from sixth to second in the main event. Last year, Schatz and Kinser tangled on the opening lap and never returned to action.
Both TSR teams competed at the track this past May. Kinser finished fifth and Schatz was eighth.
With 69 nights of racing complete, Schatz is closing in on his fifth championship. He is at or near the top of every statistical category and has 11 wins, one behind leader Sammy Swindell’s 12. His 36 top-fives and 57 top-10s are both series bests. He has led 296 laps this season, second to Swindell’s 314. He is tied with Kerry Madsen for most pole positions earned at seven, and he leads with seven KSE Hard Charger Awards for the year. The STP team is the midst of an incredible run to close the campaign. Since July 29, they’ve had 26 races, winning eight, finishing second six times with 23 top-five.
Although Kinser doesn’t realistically have a shot to earn his 21st title, he can still surpass Joey Saldana for fourth with a strong finish. He trails Saldana by 78 points heading into Saturday’s event at Rolling Wheels. This season, Kinser has three wins, 25 top-fives and 46 top-10s.
Saturday at Rolling Wheels, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (877) 395-8606 or visit www.RollingWheelsRaceway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s race can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Sprint Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim:
As an 11-time winner at Rolling Wheels Raceway, you must be looking forward to Saturday’s race?
“I’m looking forward to getting up there and seeing what we can do. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of success there. It’s just a place that fits my driving style, I guess. It’s big and fast. The track usually slicks up and you can move around a little bit. It’s always been fun. We’ve spent the week here in the shop working on some things and hoping we’ll have something for them Saturday. The last couple of weeks haven’t gone as planned, so we’re going to head up there and see if we can change that this weekend.”
The year is down to only a handful of races. What are some of the goals you and your team have for the rest of the year?
“We want to get better. We haven’t been where we wanted to be since leaving Canada back in July. Prior to that, we had been right up there in the points and running in the top-five consistently. You always want to end the year on a good note. It gives everyone something to feel good about. You’d like to get some things figured out that will help you plan for next year. The biggest thing is there are only going to be five more races to win this season. We have to do whatever we can get ourselves in position to win. That’s what we’re out here to do.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Last weekend’s National Open victory continued your incredible run since late July. How big of a win was that for you and the team?
“I’m still not sure it’s quite sunk in that I’ve won the National Open five times. I can still remember (WoO founder) Ted (Johnson) taking me for a ride on the track in his golf cart in front of Beer Hill so I could understand just what it meant to be an Outlaw racing at Williams Grove. They were booing us then and, thankfully, I have been able to hear some more boos there. I never dreamed my name would be up there with Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell and Doug Wolfgang. We got four of them and had a really hard time getting that fifth one. To see the look on the faces of my crew, they were really happy. I’ve got two guys (Rick Warner and Eric Prutzman) who are both from that area and that race is the one they grew wanting to win. Any time you can win a race like that, it’s a huge shot in the arm. I know this team has been motivated to win all year and with the roll we’re on now, no one wants it to end. We know the year is almost over. We only have five more races to go.”
This weekend’s race at Rolling Wheels gives you a chance at redemption for last year’s opening-lap crash. What are your thoughts heading into the race?
“I’m looking forward to it. Any time you are winning races, you can’t wait to get to the next one. Last year, our night at Rolling Wheels was really frustrating as we had just come from Williams Grove and didn’t fare as well as we’d hoped in the National Open. Jason Meyers was on a three-race winning streak and we were trying to catch him in the points race. Nothing seemed to be going our way. We were starting sixth and went into turns three and four to start the race and ended up spinning out in front of the field. Steve (Kinser) hit us at full speed, and the contact pretty much junked both cars. That pretty much sealed up the championship for Meyers, so it wasn’t the best of nights. Actually, we’ve been pretty good there in the past and just came up short in 2009 and 2010, so we’ve got some motivation to get to victory lane Saturday. I’m just looking forward to getting to the track. We are having so much fun racing together right now. ”
About Armored AutoGroup
Armored AutoGroup Inc., headquartered in Danbury, CT, is primarily comprised of the Armor All® and STP® brands. Armor All’s® current product line of protectants, wipes, tire and wheel care products, glass cleaners, leather care products and washes is designed to clean, shine and protect interior and exterior automobile surfaces. STP’s® offering of oil and fuel additives, functional fluids and automotive appearance products has a broad customer base ranging from professional racers to car enthusiasts and ‘‘Do-it-Yourselfers’’. The company has a diversified geographic footprint with direct operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K. and distributor relationships in approximately 50 countries. For more information, please visit www.armorall.com and www.stp.com.
About Bass Pro Shops Group
Bass Pro Shops – 56 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 109 million people annually, international catalog and internet retailing, American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide, Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations. For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com. To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO.
Tracker Marine Group – Manufactures and sells Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats through Bass Pro Shops retail stores and over 400 dealers worldwide.
Resort Group – Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. Visit www.bigcedar.com for more information.