On a weekend the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series celebrated the drivers who participated in the series’ very first event back in 1978 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Donny Schatz used the platform to make some history of his own.
The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J became only the fourth driver in WoO history to reach the 150-win total as he raced to his first career Devil’s Bowl Speedway triumph in Friday’s Texas Outlaw Showdown. The five-time WoO champion then finished fifth in Saturday’s 30-lap finale.
TSR’s Steve Kinser, one of the “Original Outlaws” honored during Saturday’s pre-race festivities, continued the WoO “Salute to the King Tour,” piloting the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim to finishes of 13th and 14th.
The TSR teammates returned to the historic half-mile, dirt oval near Dallas for the first time since 2003, and Schatz was looking for his third victory of the 2014 campaign. He qualified 11th in the field of 30 cars, won the second heat and finished third in the dash. After starting the 25-lap A-Feature third, Schatz moved into second on the opening lap and tracked polesitter Wayne Johnson for the first 10 laps. On lap 11, Schatz used a low move coming out of turn two and grabbed the lead heading into turn three. Schatz had built a sizeable lead when a caution slowed his run on lap 17. On the restart, Schatz again gained control, pacing the field during the final eight laps to score the victory.
The significance of the win wasn’t lost on Schatz, who was quick to recognize his former crew chief Kenny Woodruff, who was the winning car owner and crew chief at the first-ever WoO race at Devil’s Bowl in March 1978.
“To make it 150 at Devil’s Bowl, a place I’ve never won, it’s extra special,” Schatz said. “I know I’m proud of this win and the guys on this STP team (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman) should be, too. They work really hard to give me a good car and, tonight, it was a phenomenal piece. Kenny (Woodruff) probably taught me some of the most important fundamentals there are in this sport. It’s an honor to have him here. It’s an honor to have raced with him. And for the guys who did this back then, we’ve got easy lives compared to what they did. They had to work their tails off and things were a lot different, so hats off to them and it is an honor to have them here tonight.”
Kinser was coming off a second-place finish at El Paso (Texas) Speedway Park and entered the weekend with 10 career WoO A-Feature wins at Devil’s Bowl. He qualified 16th and, after finishing seventh in the opening heat, raced to a second-place finish in the Last Chance Showdown. Contact on the opening lap caused Kinser to spin in turn one. He started the race at the tail of the field and raced his way back to finish 13th.
In Saturday’s race, Schatz qualified seventh and raced to victory in the opening heat. The Fargo, N.D., resident finished seventh in the dash and started the 30-lap Ted Johnson Memorial inside row four. Schatz was able to advance to fourth and was making a bid for third when a caution flag on lap 17 slowed the action. Following the restart, Schatz had to work to get back into the top-five and pulled even with Paul McMahan for fourth several times coming out of turn two but wasn’t able to regain the position. His fifth-place finish was his series-leading 11th top-five of the season.
Kinser was hoping for better results Saturday but the evening proved to be frustrating once again for the 20-time WoO champion. He qualified 17th and was able to race into the A-Feature field by finishing fifth in heat two. For the second consecutive night, Kinser was involved in a first-corner collision and spun his machine to a stop on the opening lap. He returned to the field and charged back to finish 14th.
The championship standings continue to shuffle with each event. Schatz took over the top spot in the standings with his victory Friday but dropped back to third after Saturday’s result. Schatz ranks third overall with 2,388 points and trails Saturday’s winner Daryn Pittman by 10 points. Kinser ranks seventh with 2,246 markers, 152 behind Pittman.
Next up for the WoO STP Sprint Car Series is a pair of one-night programs starting with Friday’s return to the Salina (Okla.) Highbanks before the series returns to St. Louis for the Spring Classic at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.