Tony Stewart Racing Teammates Geared Up to Battle ‘Pennsylvania Posse’
INDIANAPOLIS – The battle fields in Central Pennsylvania are legendary and aren’t limited to those historic sites from the Civil War. Just north of Gettysburg lies a pair of dirt tracks where some of the greatest races in the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series history have taken place. Since the Outlaws’ started going to Central Pennsylvania in 1978, visits by the traveling Sprint car stars always have been among their toughest nights of the campaign each season. This week, it’s round one of three on the 2014 Outlaw schedule for Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, who have been two of the most successful Outlaw drivers when it comes to competing in Pennsylvania.
The invasion begins Wednesday with the “Gettysburg Clash” at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown before moving to historic Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg Friday and Saturday. The eastern tour continues Sunday with the series’ annual race at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York before Tuesday’s “Outlaw Classic” at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway.
Last season, the regional contingent of Pennsylvania drivers, known as the “Pennsylvania Posse,” bookended victories in Outlaw competition by winning at Lincoln in May (Danny Dietrich) and Williams Grove in October (Donnie Krietz Jr., and Fred Rahmer). Schatz, pilot of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J, carried the flag for the Outlaws by winning a pair of A-Features at Williams Grove in May and July to increase his career WoO A-Feature win total in the Keystone State to 20.
Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, continues his final season chasing a 21st WoO title in this season dubbed the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour.” He’s had remarkable success throughout his career in the Commonwealth, winning 65 of his 577 career WoO A-Features in the state. Included in those numbers are 27 wins at Williams Grove and 16 at Lincoln. It was in May 1980 when Kinser earned his first WoO win at Lincoln, a 4/10-mile, dirt oval. The triumph was the 50th career WoO A-Feature win. The following May, he collected his first Williams Grove checkered flag. Since then, the 20-time champion has a total of 35 wins, including eight preliminary victories, at the famed half-mile, dirt oval, with his most recent coming in May 2012, when he not only won the 30-lap A-Feature, but also scored the Morgan Cup challenge title. “The King of the Outlaws” is looking to rebound from a tough 2013 during which he finished 19th at Lincoln and 13th at The Grove in the May for his best finish in four trips there.
The run through Pennsylvania last season was one of many highlights for Schatz during his 23-win campaign. The five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion earned four top-four finishes in five starts. He finished a career-best second in Lincoln before winning twice at Williams Grove. His win in May was a thriller. After starting 12th, Schatz charged forward and took the lead from Greg Hodnett coming out of turn four on the final lap and beat him to the finish. In July, he was the fastest qualifier and again beat Hodnett in the main event. Schatz, the only five-time winner of the prestigious Morgan Hughes Williams Grove National Open, returned in October looking to make it three straight wins, but qualifying slowed his chances. He timed in 25th and 26th and finished fourth and 10th.
When the TSR teams head north for Sunday’s event in New York, Kinser will again lead the way as a six-time WoO winner at Orange County. Kinser won the Outlaws’ stop in Middletown in 2012 and came home 12th last season. The Bloomington, Indiana racer won at New Egypt in 2007 and finished 13th last May. Schatz is seeking his first win at Orange County. His best finishes on the 5/8-mile, dirt oval came in 2006 and 2007, when he finished second. The Fargo, North Dakota racer finished fifth in last year’s return. Schatz is the only two-time WoO winner at New Egypt, winning in 2001 and 2003. He came home fifth in last year’s fifth WoO race at the D-shaped, dirt-oval.
Through 24 of the scheduled 92 WoO races this season, Schatz continues to rank third in the championship standings. He has 3,362 points and trails leader Joey Saldana by 21 markers. His three wins ties him with three other drivers for most in the series. His 14 top-fives is second only to Saldana’s 15. His 21 top-10s is tied for most with two other drivers. Kinser ranks seventh overall and is coming off a second-place finish at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana for his fourth runner-up finish of the season. He has 3,207 points and is 176 points out of first.
Wednesday at Lincoln Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. EDT and the grandstands open at 4 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information on the event, contact the track by calling (717) 624-2755, or visit www.LincolnSpeedway.com.
Friday and Saturday at Williams Grove, the pit gates will open at 3:30 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 5:45 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (717) 679-5000 or visit www.williamsgrove.com
Sunday at Orange County Fair Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, contact the track at (845) 342-2573 or visit www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net.
Tuesday at New Egypt, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For more details and ticket information, visit www.newegyptspeedway.net.
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:
During this year’s "Salute to the King Tour," you've raced at some of the facilities that have been part of the schedule for more than three decades. This weekend, you’ll return to a few more historic facilities. What are your thoughts on the venues you’ll compete at this weekend?
“They have some really nice racetracks out East and we’re really looking forward to getting back out there and seeing what we can do. Both Lincoln and Williams Grove have such rich tradition for Sprint cars. They have weekly programs that are second to none and the fans really come out and support Sprint car racing. We’ve going to Williams Grove forever and it just continues to be a place where you want to win. So many of the greats have competed there, you just want to try and do the best you can each time. This is the third year we’re going back to Lincoln and the crowds the last two years have been tremendous. We haven’t had the best results, but we’re looking forward to a different outcome Wednesday. After that we go to Middletown and New Egypt. Middletown is your typical fairgrounds track. It’s the kind of track that we’d go watch summer races when I was a kid. A place with history for all kinds of cars and then New Egypt is one of the newer facilities we go to and they’ve done a great job. We’re excited. It’s a big week and we can’t wait to get started.”
There’s always talk of a rivalry with the “Pennsylvania Posse.” You are coming in with 24 races under your belts this year. Do you feel like that gives you and the other Outlaws an advantage over those guys who haven't raced quite as much?
“I don’t know if our busy schedule will help us much since most of our races have been on the short tracks. It seems like each year we head out there after a being pretty busy. No matter how hard all of the teams work, it’s hard to have everything freshened up. The Posse guys have all their stuff fresh and are waiting on you. That’s the toughest part for us. We’re out on the road racing and people don’t understand how hard it is to keep all of your motors running their best and your equipment in the best condition. People don’t see it much on the tour because all of us (Outlaws) race together and kind of wear our stuff down a bit together. I know my Bad Boy Buggies team (Scott Gerkin, Gary DuBois and Mark Angerett Jr.) and all of the other Outlaw teams get as prepared as they can to head out there. We all know how tough it is and, if you’re not prepared, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J:
The annual eastern tour in May is typically a turning point in your season. Does racing against the “Pennsylvania Posse” play into that at all?
“We race the same every night, but we know when we go out to ‘PA’ there will be a lot more cars to compete against. People put a lot more hype on the rivalry but, as a team, you don’t change anything. The competition is more because you have better cars to race with. The cream always seems to rise to the top and things kind of sort themselves out. I’m not sure I’d say racing with them has anything to do with us turning our season in a particular direction. The STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson, Eric Prutzman) do a great job of putting a good car under me out there and I’ve got a really good feel for places like Williams Grove. We put in so many laps there during my career, and it’s become one of those places where I really enjoy racing. We were able to win a couple there last year, but I always say you are only as good as your last race and we didn’t have the kind of results we wanted at the National Open. We’re determined to be better this weekend. As far as the other tracks, we’re getting better at Lincoln. We ran second last year and need to be just a bit better if we want to win there. Same thing with Middletown. We’ve been close but just haven’t gotten over the hump. We won a couple of times at New Egypt a decade ago but we weren’t in the right ZIP code there last year, so we’ve got some work to do."
This week’s return to Pennsylvania is also an opportunity for a couple of your crew members to race near their hometowns. How fun is to get your car to victory lane in places where your team members are from?
“It’s always fun to win. It does feel even better to win at one of your guys’ home track. When you have people who grew up around a track, they have a pretty close tie to it. We obviously want to do our best everywhere we go, and this week we have a good opportunity. Rick Warner is from the area and we’ve won a bunch together, both in Central Pennsylvania and around the country. Eric Prutzman is from Reading and he’s won races with me, both in his backyard and the other side of the world. It does give you a little more satisfaction when you do well at their home tracks. Going out to Pennsylvania has been very good to us for quite a few years, and we’re really looking forward to getting back out there this week.”
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