INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 16, 2012) – Sometimes, things just happen for a reason. It’s as if the schedule makers for the 2012 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series knew this weekend was the right time to venture back to North Dakota for a pair of events. For the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) tandem of Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, the timing is perfect to get back in action Friday at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., and Sunday at Nodak Speedway in Minot, N.D.
Schatz, who won last week’s 52nd annual Knoxville Nationals behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, returns to his home state on a three-race winning streak. Last year, Kinser followed the Knoxville Nationals with a weekend sweep in the Dakotas driving the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim. Last August, the TSR duo put on an incredible show at River Cities, swapping the lead nine times in the last 10 laps. Kinser prevailed in that thriller and, after finishing second there in June, “The King of the Outlaws” can’t wait to return to the high-banked quarter-mile track.
River Cities has produced some of the best races on the WoO tour during the last five years. Kinser has posted eight consecutive top-five finishes, which includes a pair of victories. In June, Kinser took the lead from local favorite Mark Dobmeier early in the 40-lap A-Feature and appeared to be cruising to his second straight River Cities WoO victory when his son Kraig raced by him to take the lead. Despite desperately trying to regain the lead, Kinser would end up following his son to the finish line. Schatz has been equally good at River Cities, winning a pair of races in 2008 and 2009 and having finished inside the top-seven in all 10 previous WoO A-Features there.
Sunday’s race in Minot will be the Outlaws’ first stop in Schatz’s hometown in nearly two years. Last year’s events were washed out because of extreme flooding in the area and ended a run of four consecutive seasons WoO had raced on the 3/8-mile dirt oval. Surprisingly, Schatz has yet to score a victory at his hometown track. His best finish came on Aug. 21, 2010, when he raced his way from 11th to finish third. Kinser has finished inside the top-10 in all five WoO races in Minot and posted his best finish of second on Aug. 20, 2010.
The TSR drivers enter the weekend on streaks of a different kind. Schatz has plenty of momentum following his two wins during the Knoxville Nationals and Tuesday’s WoO A-Feature triumph at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. The latter victory was his sixth of the season and the 119th A-Feature triumph of his career. Since crashing at Autodromme Drummond on July 28, Schatz has six consecutive top-five finishes. Kinser, on the other hand, is trying to work through one of the toughest stretches he’s had in the past few years. In five of those same six races, Kinser has managed only a third-place finish at Ohsweken (Ontario) Speedway.
Both TSR drivers are chasing Craig Dollansky in the 2012 WoO championship chase. Kinser ranks second with 6,528 points and trails Dollansky by 29 markers. The 20-time WoO champion has 21 top-fives and 36 top-10s through 50 of 73 races. Schatz is right on Kinser’s heels with 6,256 points. He has six wins, 20 top-fives and a series-best 39 top-10s.
Friday at River Cities Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, contact River Cities Speedway at (218) 773-3002. The official Web site of River Cities Speedway is www.rivercitiesspeedway.com.
Sunday at Nodak Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. CDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the Nodak Race Club at (701) 833-6501 or visit www.racenodak.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races 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:
It’s obvious the last few weeks have been a struggle for the team. Have you been able to pinpoint where the biggest problems have been occurring?
“Unfortunately, it’s been a little bit of everything. In Bloomington (Aug. 3), we got caught up in someone else’s crash, which kind of ruined our chances of racing to the front. At Knoxville, we just missed getting through our heat by one spot and that pretty much set up the rest of the weekend. We tried some things with the car and then had some issues with the tires and it all seems to be adding up on us. Tuesday in Nebraska, we had a motor go down on us during the feature and we almost finished but blew a tire on the final lap. Maybe getting back up to Grand Forks will give us a little something positive and we can stay in this championship hunt.”
The racing at River Cities Speedway could be described as awesome. Why are the races always so good there?
“Don Mack does a great job with that track and they know how to prepare it so we can put on a great show. It’s not just the features, but the heat races, the dash. Everything is competitive there. Being a high-banked track where guys can race high, low and through the middle makes for good racing. Donny and I had an unbelievable race there last August and then we came back in June and I thought I had it pretty much in control and there goes Kraig right through the middle. You always have a chance there and that seems to bring out the best in everybody.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
After ending a rather long winless streak, it seems you and TSR’s No. 15 team have been on your game. What’s made the biggest difference?
“We just had to get back to basics. We got out of Canada and got organized as a team before heading to Bloomington, Ind. We set quick time at Bloomington and had a top-two car that night and then were pretty competitive the next night at Pevely before it rained out. We brought a new car out at Knoxville and the thing has been amazing. We’ve been able to communicate as a team and we are getting the results we want. Winning breeds winning and we just want it continue.”
Is there any added pressure going back home and racing in your home state, and then your hometown?
“Not anymore. When I first started, I put so much pressure on myself to run well at Fargo that it wasn’t any fun. Now, I know I simply need to enjoy it. There are so many family members and friends around and they all just want to be part of it. I’ve been fortunate to win the Knoxville Nationals a few times these past years and it’s like, when you go back home after winning something like that, it makes everyone proud. The fans are such a big part of this sport and seeing their excitement from me winning just adds to it. I know we’ll have a lot of fans in both places and we’re going to just do the best we can. Hopefully, we’ll be in the mix and give them all something to be excited about.”
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