The action was fast and furious last week for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teammates Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz as the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series barnstormed its way through the Midwest with three races in four nights. Schatz earned three top-10s at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway, Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana.
The Outlaws made their debut at Jacksonville Wednesday, and Schatz topped the qualifying board around the quarter-mile, dirt oval. The driver of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J paced the field of 40 cars before finishing second in both heat one and the dash. The five-time WoO champion avoided disaster on the start of the 40-lap A-Feature when his machine veered right and then back left. He was able to recover and continued in fourth place during the opening laps. After taking third five laps into the race, Schatz tracked leaders Christopher Bell and Daryn Pittman for the bulk of the race. While Bell and Pittman worked the high side, Schatz tried to make the bottom groove work. Ultimately, the track surface began taking rubber midway through the race and it became a parade around the bottom. The top-three were nose-to-tail on several occasions but making a pass for position was not possible. Schatz held his third-place position and earned his eighth podium finish of 2014.
Friday marked the Outlaws’ return to Wilmot Raceway for their third-ever appearance at the 3/8-mile, dirt oval. Schatz qualified sixth and transferred into the 30-lap A-Feature. The TSR teammates shared row five on the starting grid for the main event. Passing was again difficult with a low line around the semi-banked oval being the preferred lane. Front-row starters Joey Saldana and David Gravel split time leading the race with Gravel coming out on top, while Schatz came home ninth.
Saturday night didn’t go quite so smoothly for Schatz. The Fargo, N.D., racer was off to a promising start after turning the second-fastest lap in warm-ups, but a fuel-line problem handicapped his qualifying efforts. He was credited with the 26th-best lap in the field of 26 cars, but the STP team remedied the problem and Schatz charged from ninth to sixth in heat two to gain a spot in the 40-lap main event. Schatz was relentless in the A-Feature, passing cars lap after lap. He climbed all the way to sixth late in the race and was closing on Saldana for fifth when the race ended.
Following the results of last week, Schatz remains third in the 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship standings with 3,362 points. He trails leader Saldana by 21 markers and is eight points behind McMahan. He is one of three drivers with three victories on the campaign and his stats include 14 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 24 starts.
This week, the TSR teams make their first of three trips to Pennsylvania for three nights of racing beginning Wednesday at Lincoln Speedway. Two nights of action at historic Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg start the weekend, and action concludes Sunday at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y.