TSR Looks to Close Campaign With Victory at Charlotte’s World Finals
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 30, 2012) – The achievement most competitors strive for is to be named champion at season’s end. It’s a goal not easily accomplished but remarkably rewarding when a driver and his team is hoisting the coveted trophy when the dust settles.
The 2012 World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series season concludes this weekend with the PEAK Motor Oil World of Outlaws World Finals presented by NAPA Auto Parts. Following Saturday night’s final 30-lap A-Feature of the season, there will be a familiar face ready to accept the hardware at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz can clinch his fifth WoO championship Thursday by simply making a qualifying lap behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, and the Fargo, N.D., racer would like nothing more than to put an exclamation point on a championship season by duplicating his sweep of the World Finals in 2011.
Twenty-time WoO champion Steve Kinser finished second to his TSR teammate Schatz in last year’s season finale and looks to close his season on a high note by finishing one spot better in the World Finals this weekend in his TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim.
Only one driver can win the final race of the season and, since the first World Finals in 2007, Schatz and Kinser have earned three of the five checkered flags. Kinser won the finale in 2007 while Schatz was victorious in 2008 and 2011. The event, which includes WoO Sprint Cars, WoO Late Models and the Big-Block Modifieds from the Super DIRTcar Series, begins with a pair of qualifying sessions for the Sprint Cars and Late Models Thursday. Complete programs with heat races, a dash and feature races will be held both Friday and Saturday.
Schatz is the only driver to make all 30 WoO features at the 4/10-mile Charlotte dirt oval, which opened in May 2000. He won his first race at the track in October 2000 and, since 2003, hasn’t finished outside the top-eight in 18 races. He clinched his third WoO title, and first with TSR, by leading all 30 laps of the season finale in 2008. In May 2010, he led 29 of 30 laps to earn his fourth win at the track. And last fall, he won both nights of the World Finals to increase his win tally at the track to six, most by any driver. Earlier this year, Schatz drove the STP machine from the ninth starting position and finished second.
Kinser will be looking to win at Charlotte for the third time this weekend. His first triumph came in October 2000 and his most recent victory at the facility closed the 2007 campaign. He has 18 top-five finishes in 29 starts. The Bloomington, Ind., native has finished second at the track eight times, including last year’s runner-up finish in the finale. In May, he raced from the sixth starting position and raced his way into the lead during the 30-lap A-Feature, but a blown left-rear tire ended his chances at victory.
The two A-Features this weekend will be races 73 and 74 of the 2012 WoO season. Schatz finished second in a pair of races Oct. 13 at I-55 Raceway near St. Louis to continue an incredible streak of consistency since July 29. The STP driver has finished inside the top-five 25 times in the last 29 races, and those results, which also include victories in the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals and Williams Grove (Pa.) National Open, have been the difference in the title chase. For the season, Schatz has earned 11 victories, 39 top-fives and 60 top-10s, which has helped him build a 176-point advantage over Craig Dollansky in the championship standings. Kinser, who scored his most recent win Oct. 6 when he raced to victory at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y., has four wins, 26 top-fives and 47 top-10s on the season. “The King of the Outlaws” ranks fifth in the championship standings and is guaranteed a fifth-place finish.
Saturday’s 2012 WoO season finale will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 8 p.m. EDT.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
The last two seasons, you’ve headed to the World Finals without a realistic chance at the championship. This year, you are back to controlling your own fate. How much better do you like this position?
“It’s the best-case scenario. It’s one I haven’t been in since 2008 and I can tell you I’m enjoying it. In 2008, we went to the World Finals with the championship pretty much locked up and just went after wins. We finished second the first night and won the finale. There is no better feeling than finishing a year with a win and then getting the championship trophy that night. In 2009, the championship battle was so close (19 points) that any little thing could have lost us the title. Fortunately, we were able to win it, but it was pretty tense the whole weekend. The last two years, we knew Jason (Meyers) was going to have to have major problems for us to have a chance. The good thing last year was that we had a great car and were able to win both races. It didn’t make up for not winning the championship, but it was something that motivated everyone through the winter.”
Your success at The Dirt Track is probably the best of any driver. Is there any particular reason you have been so successful there?
“I want to win every time I get in my racecar, but there’s just something about doing well under those bright lights. It’s always a big race when we are in Charlotte. We race there twice a year. The first time is in May during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend and you see so many people from the NASCAR teams and most of your sponsors can be with you for that event. The World Finals is the last opportunity of the year and they have so many people come to the race. The atmosphere is always terrific. The other thing is, I’ve always had a good feel for getting around the track. Our Shaver Motor-J&J car combination has been really good there for a long time. We’re looking forward to another opportunity this weekend. Last year is going to be hard to top, but I know the STP guys have really been working hard to give me a great car to drive in the World Finals. ”