Four Races in Five Nights for Tony Stewart Racing Teammates
INDIANAPOLIS (June 5, 2012) – This won’t be just another week for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz. For the two drivers perched atop of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series championship standings, these next five days may be memorable in more ways than one. With three WoO races scheduled and only 30 points separating the two in their marathon to the 2012 WoO championship, this week’s results may set the tone for the battle within the war. Kinser and Schatz will start Tuesday with a race at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway and close the week with races Friday at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, and Saturday at the legendary Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
As if three nights of action on a quarter-mile dirt oval (Kokomo), a 3/8-mile dirt oval (Clay County) and a half-mile dirt oval (Knoxville) weren’t enough, the TSR drivers will also spend Wednesday evening making their Dirt Late Model debuts competing in the eighth annual Feed the Children Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
It’s appropriate that Kinser and Schatz start the week in Kokomo, a track that was part of the WoO schedule during its first year in 1978. The quarter-mile dirt oval in central Indiana may be the epitome of grass-roots racing – a dirt track that weekly racing brings out fans from all ages to see wheel-to-wheel competition on a surface that traditionally offers multiple lanes of racing typically resulting in fantastic finishes. Tuesday’s race will mark the third and final 2012 stop in the Hoosier State and first time the Outlaws have competed at Kokomo in five years.
Schatz remembers that June 5 night back in 2007. He was coming off his first WoO championship, leading the WoO standings and surging with a series-best seven wins. It was his third race at that track. In that 2007 race, he started fourth and quickly worked his way to second. He took the lead on lap 20 and raced to a large advantage before the race was slowed by a caution seven laps later. The caution erased his lead and opened the door for Joey Saldana to take a shot at him on the ensuing restart. Saldana got the best of Schatz that night and he ended up finishing second. It was one that got away and he’d like to have a shot at redemption on Tuesday.
After Kokomo, the two drivers will venture over to Eldora Speedway Wednesday to be part of Tony Stewart’s annual charity all-star race. In the eighth annual Prelude To The Dream, they’ll join stars representing NASCAR, NHRA and INDYCAR in a battle for dirt supremacy on the half-mile clay oval. HBO Pay-Per-View® will present the event live in high-definition to the entire nation. Net proceeds from the telecast will support Feed The Children, a U.S.-based charity that domestically has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.
Friday, it will be back to business in the Winged Sprint cars with a return to Clay County Fair Speedway. This will be the first time the series makes an appearance at the 3/8-mile oval for a June event.
Schatz has been fast at the track since that first stop back in 2007. The Fargo, N.D., racer won the A-Feature in both 2007 and 2008 and was sixth in 2009 for his only finish there outside the top-three. He finished third in 2010 and again last year after leading the first 11 laps of the 30-lap main event.
A second stop at legendary Knoxville Raceway closes the week, and Schatz will be looking to add to his impressive list of accomplishments at Knoxville. The defending Knoxville Nationals champion started 15th and worked his way up to fifth before finishing sixth. Schatz has nine career WoO feature wins at the track and he’s been remarkable there in the last decade during sport’s premier event, the Knoxville Nationals. He has finished in the top-two in 10 of the previous 12 Nationals A-Mains.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
With so many races, it’s probably difficult to remember details from five years ago, let alone five weeks ago. With races at Kokomo, Spencer and Knoxville this week, do you think about any of the past results you had at any of those tracks before you get there?
“You have memories of every place, sometimes good and sometimes bad. We always try to follow the idea of leaving the results at the track when you head out of town. If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself crazy. So much has happened since the last time we raced in Kokomo. I was driving for my parents, and we were having a great season. We went on to win all the big races that year and ultimately the championship. Do I remember why we finished second that night at Kokomo? No, but I know we kept plugging away and got better. Same deal with Spencer last fall. We had a tough swing through the West, so it felt good to get out front and lead the race. We ended up not winning but went on to finish the year strong. As far as Knoxville goes, I think everyone remembers how many times we finished second before finally winning the Nationals. What happened in the past doesn’t have a lot of impact on what happens in your next race, so don’t let it weigh on you much before each race. You just try to do your best that night.”
It’s not often you get the chance to race something other than a Winged Sprint car. How excited are you for Wednesday’s Prelude?
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’m honored that Tony (Stewart) and the folks at Eldora Speedway asked me to be part of the event. I had the chance last week at Lawrenceburg to shake down my STP car. Darrell Lanigan is a really nice guy and one heck of driver, so I know we’ll be in top-notch stuff. I’m looking forward to competing with some of the other drivers, too. I knew Jimmie Johnson when he was working his way up the ladder. I’ve met Ron Capps before and watched him race. I actually raced against Clint Bowyer in a Modified event a few years back in Sedalia, Mo. It’s really going to be a great experience. I’m not 100-percent sure of what to expect, other than it’s going to be a great event and I’m excited to be part of it.”