he World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series passed the midway point of the 2011 season with four races at three different tracks this past week. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser earned four top-six finishes driving the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, while Donny Schatz raced the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J to four top-10s as the Outlaws’ competed in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, Williams Grove Summer Nationals and their annual stop at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y.
Tuesday night’s Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., is the only WoO event on the schedule that includes a double-feature program. The twin 30-lap A-Features each paid $15,000 to the winner with the lineup for the second event being determined by the outcome of the first. Schatz qualified sixth and finished second in the second heat to earn his position in the dash. He finished fifth in the six-lap dash and started the 30-lap race from the third row. The four-time WoO champion raced inside the top-five during the first 20 laps and nearly took third with a bold move in turn two, but he couldn’t make it stick. He was passed late in the race and was credited with a sixth-place finish, which earned him the 13th starting position in the second main event. He worked his way up to ninth in four laps but, seven laps later, he spun to a stop in turn two and retired from the main event with motor problems.
Kinser began his night by turning the 28th-fastest lap and followed with a fifth-place finish in the fourth heat race. He started the first A-Feature 24th and raced up to 12th during the 30 laps. That finish earned him the seventh starting spot in the second race, and he quickly surged to the front. He was in second by lap eight and took advantage of a lap-14 restart and passed veteran Danny Smith for the lead. Kinser set the pace for the next 13 laps and looked to be on his way to his sixth win of the season. With two laps to go, the 20-time WoO champion got over the edge of track coming out of turn two and slowed enough that eventual winner Tim Shaffer was able to get by. Kinser never regained the lead from Shaffer and was scored second.
On Friday night, the TSR tandem opened the Summer Nationals program at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Kinser picked up right where he left off on Tuesday night and was strong throughout the evening. He qualified ninth, won the first heat and dominated the dash. The Bloomington, Ind., native led the first four laps of the 25-lap A-Feature and stayed within striking distance of eventual winner Greg Hodnett during the final 21 laps en route to a second-place finish. Schatz qualified 20th in the field of 44 cars and raced to a fifth-place finish in the fourth heat. He methodically worked his way from his 10th-row starting position during the A-Feature. He made a late pass to secure the eighth position and earned the KSE Hard Charger of the Race for passing 11 cars.
For the second consecutive Saturday, the Outlaws were racing for more money than they typically do. The Summer Nationals finale offered $20,000 to the winner, and Schatz was looking to become the first driver to win four Summer Nationals. He qualified seventh in the field and raced to victory in the third heat. After finishing sixth in the dash, he started the 30-lap A-Feature on the outside of row three and was in the top-three before the race reached the halfway mark. With five laps remaining, he used a restart to grab the second position, but the move was nullified by another caution. He would ultimately finish third behind Jason Meyers and Stevie Smith. Kinser qualified 16th and won the fourth heat to snare a spot in the dash where he finished eighth. In the feature, he progressed his way forward for a sixth-place finish.
On Sunday, the Outlaws concluded the week with the season’s only stop at Lebanon Valley Speedway. Kinser qualified third in the field and finished second in the third heat. His fourth-place run in the dash put him in position to challenge for another victory in the 25-lap A-Feature. “The King of the Outlaws” held the fourth spot during the first 10 laps and used a restart on lap 17 to grab third. It looked as though Kinser would be able to grab second on an ensuing restart, but another accident forced WoO officials to revert to the previous lap. Kinser would end up following Craig Dollansky and Jason Meyers to the finish line. Schatz was a late qualifier and turned the 12th-best lap around the high-banked, half-mile clay dirt oval. Bad luck found the Fargo, N.D., racer during heat three. He was solidly in second and looking as if he’d earn one of the coveted dash positions with one lap to go. As he exited the final corner, his left-rear tire blew apart and he was passed just before the finish line by Kinser. Losing the tire pushed Schatz back to starting 12th in the 25-lap finale, where he would race past three cars and finish ninth.
The roller-coaster week for Schatz saw him bounce between second and first in the 2011 WoO championship standings. Following Sunday’s race, he sits in second place and trails leader Meyers by 18 points. He has totaled 4,769 points, three victories, 16 top-fives, and 28 top-10s. Kinser climbed to third with 4,729 points, 58 behind Meyers, and has earned five wins, 16 top-fives and 27 top-10s.
Next up for the TSR team is a week of racing in eastern Canada. It’s the first of two ventures north of the border for the Outlaws with the action beginning on Wednesday at Ohsweken (Ontario) Speedway. On Friday, the WoO stars will make their debut at Brockville (Ontario) Speedway and then make their second-ever appearance at the Autodrome Drummond in Drummondville, Quebec on Saturday night. Last season, Schatz was victorious at Ohsweken, and Kinser was the winner at Autodrome.