The World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series returned to the Midwest for a pair of races on the short tracks this past weekend. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz raced to victory on Friday night in his teammate Steve Kinser’s hometown of Bloomington, Ind., before the two raced to top-10 finishes in the third annual Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway on Saturday night.
Schatz finished third at Bloomington during his third season on the WoO tour in 1999, and he knew he wanted to get back to the track and race again. The four-time WoO champion didn’t realize it would be 12 years before he could return but, on Friday night, he made up for lost time by racing the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J to his fourth WoO A-Feature victory of the season. Schatz qualified third in the field and finished second in heat three. He won the dash after a spirited duel with Jason Sides. In the 40-lap A-Feature, Schatz and Sides picked up where they left off in the dash and put on a good show for the first 10 laps. Schatz, who led the first 12 laps of the race, got around Sides for the lead following a restart on lap 13 and led the final 27 laps. He earned the victory after taking the white flag on three separate occasions. The win was his 109th career WoO A-Feature triumph.
Kinser made his first appearance at his hometown track in the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim since June of 2006, when he competed in a National Sprint Tour event at the quarter-mile track. He qualified fourth, finished third in the first heat and fourth in the dash. In the A-Feature, he raced from the second row and battled for the fifth position most of the race. He ultimately finished sixth.
Both TSR drivers battled the elements on Saturday in the Ironman 55. The St. Louis heat made it difficult on the drivers and the standing-room-only crowd on hand. Schatz qualified ninth in the field of 27 cars, won the third heat and finished eighth in the dash. The Fargo, N.D., native jumped into sixth at the start of the 55-lap A-Feature and battled lap after lap to climb closer. Following a lap-37 restart, he tried to make the low line work in turns three and four. He was able to pull even with Kerry Madsen, who was running fourth, but couldn’t make the pass for position. During the final 10 laps, he jumped up on the high side and followed the freight train of cars to the finish line. He finished fifth. Kinser qualified sixth, which started him third in heat three, and finished fourth to transfer into the A-Feature. In the 55-lap race, he battled his way to an eighth-place finish on a demanding track in extreme heat.
Schatz maintained his second-place position in the 2011 WoO championship standings and trails leader Jason Meyers by 52 points. He has totaled 5,473 points, four victories, 18 top-fives, and 33 top-10s. Kinser remains third with 5,420 points,105 behind Meyers, and has earned five wins, 18 top-fives and 32 top-10s.
The focus for TSR now turns toward the 51st annual Goodyear Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals. Both Schatz, who has won the prestigious event four times, and Kinser, a 12-time Knoxville Nationals champion, will compete in Wednesday night’s qualifying program. The event includes four consecutive nights of racing and will conclude on Saturday night with a 50-lap A-Main that pays the winner $150,000.