Consistency Fuels Schatz’s Return to Top of Outlaw Standings

Donny charges forward at River Cities Speedway. (Tim Johnson Photo.)

Tony Stewart Racing Teammates Put Up Podium Performances in North Dakota

It was a good weekend to be home for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz. The four-time WoO champion returned to his home state of North Dakota for a pair of World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series events, and the driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J finished fourth Friday at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks and third Saturday at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo.

 TSR’s Steve Kinser had a rollercoaster-type of weekend racing the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim. He battled for the victory at River Cities before ultimately finishing second, and lost a motor at Red River Valley midway through the A-Feature and was credited with 19th.

Kinser was on top of the 2012 WoO championship standings heading into the weekend with Schatz only 10 points back. But Schatz overtook Kinser with his finishes in North Dakota and is leading the standings for the sixth time in 2012.

Both TSR cars were fast to begin the night at River Cities. Schatz was the fifth-fastest qualifier in the field of 37 cars, and Kinser was sixth. Schatz finished fourth in the opening heat while Kinser finished second in heat two. By finishing second, Kinser earned a position in the six-lap dash, where he finished fourth.

The 40-lap A-Feature started with Kinser taking off from the outside of row two while Schatz began the race in 11th. “The King of the Outlaws” quickly moved into second behind early leader Mark Dobmeier. On lap 13, Kinser used the middle of the racetrack and drove into the lead. He maintained his lead until late in the race, when his son Kraig drove past him heading into turn one. Kinser tried to keep up with his son during the final seven laps but couldn’t catch him. Schatz took advantage of a mid-race restart to move from sixth to third and then closed on Steve Kinser and Lucas Wolfe. While he was battling Wolfe for second, Kraig Kinser drove past both of them on his way to the front of the field. During the final handful of laps, Schatz had a terrific battle with Big Game Treestands teammates Sammy Swindell and Craig Dollansky for the third spot.

Saturday marked the Outlaws’ first appearance at Red River Valley in three seasons but the 60th WoO race at the track. Schatz timed in 11th in the field of 26 cars and Kinser stopped the clock with the 14th-best lap. Schatz finished third just ahead of Kinser in heat two and the TSR drivers started the 30-lap A-Feature 11th and 13th, respectively. Both were on the move early with Schatz reaching sixth 10 laps into the race. Schatz, Kinser and Joey Saldana fought for fifth for a few laps before the race was halted with a caution just prior to the halfway point.  Schatz took advantage of the restart and climbed to third. On the following lap, he passed Swindell for second and began tracking Chad Kemenah. On lap 18, Kinser spun to a stop in turn three. His car wouldn’t refire because of a broken component within the motor and the result was his first DNF (did not finish) of the season. On the restart, Schatz battled Kemenah for the lead but Swindell was able to get past both of them. Their battle continued for second while Swindell went on to win his fifth race of the season.

Through 29 races this season, Schatz leads the standings by 19 points over Kinser. Schatz has a series-best 23 top-10 finishes and Kinser leads the series in top-fives with 13. The teams will be racing in Kansas Friday and Saturday at Dodge City Raceway Park in the annual Boothill Showdown.