Outlaws Legend Kinser Seeking 21st Title
Sprint Car Hero Begins ‘Salute to the King Tour’ in Florida
INDIANAPOLIS – A sign of a true competitor is an unmistakable level of determination to always be the best. Over the last 35 years, no short-track-racing driver has shown more determination and fierce competitiveness than Steve Kinser. Finishing first has been his one and only desire since winning an Indiana high school state wrestling championship. He carried that passion for success into the driver’s seat and, for more than three decades, his hall of fame-caliber career is without a doubt the stuff legends are made of.
This week, Kinser, the 20-time World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series champion, begins his final season chasing the championship with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” in a 2014 campaign dubbed at the “Salute to the King Tour.” He’ll kick things off Friday at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and will have completed a scheduled 85 nights of racing at 54 tracks in 24 states and three Canadian provinces before all is said and done.
An icon in Sprint car racing, Kinser has been known as “The King of the Outlaws” for decades, and his achievements both on the track and in helping the sport rise to national prominence are off the charts. He’ll start his fifth season driving for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and for the second consecutive season will be behind the wheel of Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Bad Boy Buggies machine. Kinser begins his pursuit of WoO championship number 21 this weekend at Volusia in the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim racing three nights in the 43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals.
Four of Kinser’s 576 career WoO A-Feature main event victories have come at Volusia Speedway Park. He won his first race at the half-mile, dirt oval during the 2005 Speedweeks and then scored his second in the 2010 finale. He won the first two races of 2011 to kick off a campaign that saw him win nine times en route to a third-place finish in the standings. Kinser finished second when the World of Outlaws made their debut at the track in February 1981. He has made 22 WoO starts at Volusia and has nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.
Throughout this year’s “Salute to the King Tour,” fans are being encouraged to share their favorite Steve Kinser memories and photos through social media. Fans can like the “Salute to the King” page at Facebook.com/SalutetotheKing and post photos and stories. Kinser anecdotes can also be shared Twitter using the hashtag #KingKinser. Several special contests and activities will be announced throughout the season.
The DIRTcar Nationals begin with a pair of All-Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC)-sanctioned races Wednesday and Thursday prior to three complete WoO events beginning Friday evening.
For all five race nights at Volusia Speedway Park, the pit gates open at 1 p.m. EST and the grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the race weekend can be purchased by calling Volusia Speedway Park at (386) 985-4402. For more information on the event, visit www.DIRTcarNationals.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Fans can listen live as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO STP Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com cybercast, as well as on the DIRT Radio Network. Go to www.DIRTVision.com for more information on all the site features, including updated results from each night of racing, as well as a chat room to interact with other race fans.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim:
In December, it was announced that 2014 would be your final season chasing a World of Outlaws championship. Was making that announcement one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
“Without a doubt, it was really difficult. When I decided to do this, I don’t think it fully hit me until they officially announced it was going to be the last season. I’ve raced with the World of Outlaws up and down the road so long. It’s what I’ve done for more than 35 years. Racing has been a part of my life since I think I was born, watching my dad race. I always told myself that if I couldn’t run all the races that I would probably hang it up. I’m going to get through this year and run all the races, and after that I’m going to sit back down and sort of weigh what’s going on and decide whether I want to run some kind of limited schedule. I might continue running a race team or be associated with Tony Stewart, somehow. I just know I’m getting to the age and things where my body is telling me it’s sort of time to slow down a little bit.”
With the announcement made, the focus now turns to winning races and chasing another championship. How do like your chances heading into this season?
“I feel really good. Last season was quite honestly a disaster. Nobody on the Bad Boy Buggies team was happy about our performance. So, this winter, we all put our focus on performing better. I went to Australia and raced a handful of times and had some success. I feel ready to go right now. Scott (Gerkin, crew chief) and Gary (DuBois, car chief) put in a lot of time back at the shop getting us prepared to come out of the box strong. We tested last week and honestly feel like we’re ready. I’m excited to get back into the car.”
Starting in Florida at Volusia Speedway Park has been the norm the last few years. Does it make it tougher knowing there will be a strong field of cars that you’ll be competing against?
“That’s what you want as a competitor. You want to beat the best. There is still no greater feeling than ending your night with that trophy. That’s why we work so hard before we get to the track so that, when we sign in, we feel like we’re there to win. Everyone works hard in the winter and comes to Volusia with really good equipment. It’s a fast track and you can really make some speed there. We’ve had some good runs there the past few years and we’re geared up to come out swinging. I really want to get off to a good start and put our Bad Boy Buggies in position to contend for wins all weekend.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine