TSR Teammates Lead Outlaws Back to St. Louis
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 11, 2012) – There couldn’t be a better time for the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) tandem of Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz to return to St. Louis for the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series final Midwest appearance of 2012. The fans in the region are known for their passion and, while many will revel in the St. Louis Cardinals’ bid to repeat as World Series champions, the grassroots Sprint car fans will enjoy one of the most exciting days of the season. Mother Nature may have taken the first two rounds in this battle this year, but all involved with Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., are hoping this third time will be the charm.
After rain washed out the Outlaws’ scheduled visit in April, and a late-summer thunderstorm in August forced WoO officials to postpone the A-Feature of the annual Ironman 55, Kinser, Schatz and the rest of the competitors are looking forward to a rare opportunity to race twice on the exciting high-banked track owned by longtime NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader. Kinser comes in as the series’ most recent winner. Schatz is the series’ hottest driver who is surging toward a fifth WoO title. They’ll first race in the 55-lap Ironman 55 Saturday afternoon, then compete in a complete program that concludes with a 40-lap A-Feature Saturday night.
In a season that started in February in Florida and has taken them all across the United States and twice into Canada, the TSR drivers are excited about racing somewhat close to home for the final time in 2012. Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/JD Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, hails from Bloomington, Ind., and Schatz, pilot of the No. 15 TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, calls Fargo, N.D., home.
Winning will be the goal, too, for Schatz, who won nine races since his victory on July 29 at Cornwall (Ontario) Speedway. In his last 27 races, Schatz has finished inside the top-10 26 times, including wins in two of the season’s biggest races – the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals and the Williams Grove National Open. The STP team has also finished second eight times and regularly qualified in the top-five. Those results have allowed him to turn a 40-point deficit into a 167-point advantage in the 2012 championship standings. Schatz, who first circled the Pevely high banks during his WoO rookie season in 1997, has one career triumph at I-55 and that came in April 2006, the season he earned his first WoO title. Despite only having one victory, Schatz has been the model of consistency at the track during the past eight seasons. He has 13 consecutive finishes inside the top-eight and most recently finished fifth in the 2011 Ironman 55.
Saturday’s races will be the final two before the season finale in Charlotte Nov. 2-3. Schatz hopes to head into the Peak Motor Oil World Finals with a comfortable lead in the championship standings. His 11 wins are second to Sammy Swindell’s 12, but he does lead the series with 37 top-fives and 58 top-10s in 70 starts. Kinser ranks fifth in the standings and is 68 behind Joey Saldana for fourth place.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
After a long season, what are your thoughts going into the second-to-last event of the year?
“Honestly, I wish we could keep racing because we’ve been racing so well. When you are in a groove like we are, you don’t want it to end. We struggled earlier this season and through June and July, but we got ourselves reorganized and are having a lot of fun. That’s the thing… we’re having so much fun. We know there are only four more races left so you just try to do the best you can. There are still a few things we feel like we need to accomplish. We always start the year with a goal of winning the most races. We’re one back of Sammy (Swindell) right now, so that’s our immediate goal. If we can have a good couple of races at Pevely this weekend, the other stuff will take care of itself.”
Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 annually offers the fans some of the best races of the season. What’s it like for a driver to compete there?
“It’s a challenging track where anything can and usually does happen. Ken (Schrader) and Ray Marler do a great job giving us a good racetrack. I know the fans usually see a great show. It’s not very often you have two races, let alone a 55-lap race and a 40-lap race, at the same track on the same day. Like I said, it’s always exciting at Pevely because guys can come from the back to the front. And, you can go the other way pretty quickly, too, from the front to the back. Things happen really fast. It’s one of those places where you have to keep up with the track in order to make passes. You have to use traffic to your advantage. Finding a different line can be the key, sometimes. You’ve got to have your car just right every time you hit the track, which will be often Saturday. Qualifying is important and the heat races there are usually pretty exciting. I’d say it’s pretty exciting from my seat, too. I’m really looking forward to Saturday.”