Outlaw Champions Make First of Three Stops at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS – There isn’t much to debate for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser when it comes to naming his favorite track on the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series tour. It’s Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, site of a WoO doubleheader Friday and Saturday.
The 20-time Outlaw champion will be joined by his TSR teammate Donny Schatz and the rest of the Outlaws as they take on the high-banked, dirt oval located in western Ohio for the first two of five races at Eldora on this year’s WoO “Salute to the King Tour.” The 2014 campaign is Kinser’s final run at a 21st WoO championship. After a tremendous start to the season that included a victory in Florida and four consecutive podium finishes, Kinser is seeking another trip to victory lane in the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim.
Schatz heads to Ohio looking to end a winless streak at “The Big E” that dates back to his 2009 Kings Royal triumph. The five-time WoO champion is tied with Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman for most wins in 2014 with three and, just two weeks ago, he drove the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J to his 150th career WoO A-Feature win at historic Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway was the site of Outlaws’ first-ever race back in March 1978 and the second was held at Eldora. Kinser followed Bobby Allen to the finish line on that April evening, but a month later the Bloomington, Ind., native won his first career WoO A-Feature on May 21, 1978.
Kinser was drawn to the allure of racing at Eldora as a youngster when he would make weekend trips to watch his father Bob circle the high-banks. It was clear during those first three years of the WoO that Kinser was going to be the driver to beat at Eldora anytime he showed up. In 28 WoO races from 1978 through 1980, Kinser won 11 WoO races and finished on the podium 23 times. He also scored a USAC Silver Crown victory late in the 1980 season. The dominance continued through the 1980s and into the 1990s. In 49 starts from 1981 to 1996, he finished inside the top-10 46 times with 11 wins. He has made 187 WoO starts since 1978 (30 preliminary programs) and has 41 career WoO wins at the track, including 34 of his 577 career WoO A-Feature triumphs. His most recent Eldora victory came in July 2010, when he won his seventh King’s Royal in thrilling fashion by taking the lead late in the 40-lap race. Last season, he picked up two top-10s in four starts.
Eldora Speedway was the track where Schatz first splashed onto the national scene. In the 1996 King’s Royal, Schatz was an 18-year-old racer competing at the track for the first time and he finished an impressive eighth in a race that was televised live across the nation. The next season, Schatz began his WoO career and has been a major player over the last decade. He first tasted victory at Eldora in August 2002, when he pocketed $100,000 by winning the Historical Big One, and then earned a preliminary WoO victory in April 2003. His first WoO A-Feature came in grand style as he dominated the 2007 Kings Royal. Later that season, he signed on to drive for TSR and has been extremely consistent since. In 26 starts since the 2008 campaign began, Schatz has won three times, earned 17 top-fives and 24 top-10s. Last season, the two-time King’s Royal champion raced from 24th to fourth on May 3, then finished third the following night. He held second for most of the 40-lap King’s Royal last July before finishing third.
Schatz comes to Eldora following a third-place finish last Saturday night at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. The finish was his 12th top-five in the first 19 races of the 92 scheduled for 2014. He ranks fourth in the standings with 2,669 points and trails leader Joey Saldana by 19. Kinser ranks seventh overall with 2,516 points, 172 back of Saldana.
Friday and Saturday at Eldora, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT and the grandstands will open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details, call the track at (937) 338-3815 or visit www.EldoraSpeedway.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 Sprint 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:
The first quarter of the season is nearly over and, with the calendar turning to May, you’ll return to a lot of familiar tracks. Has the early part of the season gone as you had hoped it would?
“We got off to a tremendous start and that was just what we needed. We had good runs in Florida and then Las Vegas but didn’t really have the swing through California we were hoping for. We had a decent night in El Paso but the last four races haven’t been what we’d like, either. It’s been a good week here at the shop and we’re all excited about the month of May. We’ll get to race at places where we’ve had quite a bit of success from Eldora, Tri-State, Lincoln, Williams Grove and then finish up with races in Charlotte and back at Lawrenceburg. The weather will warm up and the tracks will become a little raceier. We just need to start by having a good couple of nights back-to-back like we had to start the year and then we can build on it from there.”
You’ve talked about your love for racing at Eldora. This weekend provides another chance for you to take on the high-banks. What are some of your best memories from Eldora?
“There have been so many. It really started when I was a kid and would go there with my dad. He raced all over the state of Indiana and, when we got to go to Eldora, it was a big deal. I knew I wanted to race there and, when I did, it was better than I could have expected. I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of races there. Those are the ones you remember most. Earl Baltes did a great job of making races events and paying big money like he did for the King’s Royal. That brought the people. Race teams from all over the county. Those were the races you wanted to win, and we won our share. There is no better feeling than leaving Eldora after winning the race. It’s such a tough track and, when you come out on top there, you know you’ve accomplished something. That’s the feeling this Bad Boy Buggies team wants to have this weekend.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J:
Despite not picking up a win at Eldora in the last few seasons, you have been in contention just about every time the World of Outlaws race there. Do you change your approach heading into this weekend’s race or stick to what you’ve been doing?
“We keep trying to get better every time we race there. We went a long time before winning there and then had a couple-year run where we won three or four and finished second three or four times. The STP guys keep putting a good car under me there. Last year, we had a shot at winning late in the race in May and in the King’s Royal did everything we could to beat Brad (Sweet). We are close. I know winning at Eldora is high on the priority list for 2014. We’ve got a plan and hope to get two good nights under our belts this weekend and be ready for the King’s Royal in July.”
Through most of your career, you’ve been able to have incredible results between the months of May and August. What’s the biggest factor in the spike in your results during the summer months?
“We’ve had a good program for when tracks slow down and just kept trying to perfect it. Typically, the weather gets warmer in May and the tracks will be a little slower. When that happens, it becomes more of a race on the track and allows for some passing. We like tracks where you can move around and drive forward versus the races where everyone jumps in line and can only wait for the guy in front of you to make a mistake. The tracks we go to during those times also have a lot do with that. Eldora has been very good the last few years, and going east to Williams Grove and New York has been good for us. I know we would have liked to win a little more during the first couple of months and, hopefully, some of the things we’ve been working on will help us do that from now on.”
About Armored AutoGroup
Armored AutoGroup Inc., headquartered in Danbury, Conn., is primarily comprised of the Armor All®, STP® and Tuff Stuff® brands. The current Armor All product line of protectants, wipes, tire and wheel care products, glass cleaners, leather care products and car washes are designed to clean, shine and protect interior and exterior automobile surfaces. The STP product line of fuel and oil additives, functional fluids and automotive appearance products have a broad customer base ranging from professional racers to car enthusiasts and "Do-it-Yourselfers". Tuff Stuff cleaning products are formulated to tackle the toughest jobs.
Armored AutoGroup has a diversified geographic footprint with direct operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K. and distributor relationships in approximately 50 countries. For more information, please visit www.armorall.com and www.stp.com.
About Bad Boy Buggies
Bad Boy Buggies is a leader in off-road utility vehicles for hunting and outdoor lifestyles. Bad Boy Buggies pioneered the category of electrically powered 4x4 vehicles, ideal for hunting and outdoor recreation due to their silent, odorless operation and environmentally friendly, emissions-free drivetrains.
Today, the Bad Boy Buggies product line ranges from four-wheel-drive electric hunting machines such as the Recoil, a fully electric, 4WD vehicle with an innovative, highly efficient 72-volt AC electric drivetrain, to the Work Series of diesel and gas-powered utility vehicles, including the Bad Boy Buggies XD, a versatile 4WD, diesel-powered utility vehicle with a total capacity of 1,600 pounds. In 2010, the Bad Boy Buggies brand and product line were acquired by E-Z-GO, a business unit of Textron Inc.
For more information, please visit www.badboybuggies.com.
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine