INDIANAPOLIS – The stakes are about to get higher in the rugged World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series, and that’s just fine with Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz. The TSR teammates are two of the most decorated drivers in Sprint car racing history and both have had some of their most memorable performances in the highest-profile events.
Wednesday begins a stretch of 17 race nights over 32 days, including a number of signature events in what’s become known as Sprint car racing’s “Month of Money.” The 26th annual Ohio Logistics Brad Doty Classic presented by Racing Optics kicks off the festivities at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio and will be followed by the biggest Sprint car event of the season at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The 31st annual Kings Royal weekend includes a complete show Friday – The Knight Before the Kings Royal – and Saturday’s program culminates with a 40-lap A-Feature that pays $50,000 to the winner and includes a post-race crowning of the race winner.
Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance, has 577 World of Outlaws A-Feature wins during his illustrious career and is a multi-time winner in both the Brad Doty Classic and Kings Royal. The Bloomington, Indiana native won the inaugural race for both events. In 1984, Kinser became the first driver to etch his name in Sprint car lore by banking $50,000 cash in the first Kings Royal. In 1989, Kinser won the first Brad Doty Classic. The 20-time champion would like nothing more than to win both again in his final full season of WoO competition as part of the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour.”
Schatz heads to Lima with the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J as the defending Brad Doty Classic winner and, like Kinser, is also a Kings Royal champion. The five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion is a two-time winner of both events, taking the Kings Royal crown in 2007 and 2009 and the Doty race in 2011 and last season.
Kinser is one of only four drivers to score multiple victories in the Doty event, a race that honors the former World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year and teammate to Kinser, who was hurt in a racing accident during the 1988 Kings Royal. Kinser has a tremendous record at Lima, winning three of the first four WoO races at the high-banked quarter-mile dirt oval and, since the series returned to the track in 2007, he has finished inside the top-10 in six of seven races. In 2013, Kinser qualified second in the field of 49 cars, started fourth in the 40-lap main event and finished seventh.
Before his victory at Lima in 2011, Schatz was missing a Brad Doty Classic title on his impressive list of accomplishments. He was able to check that off his list of races to win by leading the final eight laps en route to victory. Last July, Schatz was again the man to beat after starting third and dropping back as far as sixth. He charged forward through the field to take the lead on lap 24 and built a nearly three-second lead before a caution allowed the competition to catch up. He fended off several challenges late in the race to join Danny Smith, Dale Blaney and Kinser as the only two-time Brad Doty Classic winners.
Eldora Speedway has always been a favorite of Kinser’s since his youth, when he watched his father Bob circle the high-banked half-mile dirt oval. Kinser quickly found victory lane at “The Big E” during the early years of WoO competition and it was no surprise when he claimed Earl Baltes’ first $50,000 prize in 1984. He’s the lone driver to compete in all 30 Kings Royal A-mains and is the only seven-time winner. His victories came in 1984, 1988, 1991, 1997, 2003, 2005 and, most recently in 2010. His latest triumph came in thrilling fashion as he used a textbook Eldora slidejob in the TSR No. 11 to get past Kerry Madsen for the win. In all, Kinser has made 189 WoO starts since 1978 (30 preliminary races) at the track and has 41 career WoO Eldora wins, including 34 of his 577 career WoO A-Feature triumphs. In last year’s Kings Royal, Kinser started 15th and finished eighth.
The 1996 Kings Royal may have been a breakout performance for Schatz, who was only 18 years old on that memorable July night. He was in the midst of a championship season with the WISSOTA Sprint Car Series and surprised many by not only making the field of 24, but also by finishing eighth in his Kings Royal debut. Schatz won the WoO Rookie honors the following season and has been taking on the famous Eldora highbanks ever since. His first Eldora win came in August 2002, when he pocketed $100,000 for taking the Historical Big One, and the Fargo, North Dakota driver made it two wins in a row by scoring a WoO preliminary win in April 2003. His first WoO A-Feature triumph came in the 2007 Kings Royal, when he accepted the first-place check from Stewart just weeks before he would officially sign to become a part of TSR. Schatz won WoO A-Features at Eldora in May 2008 and 2009 before winning his second Kings Royal in July 2009. He’s finished inside the top-five in seven of the last eight Kings Royals, including last year when he ran second for most of the race before finishing third.
The Brad Doty Classic will be night number 46 of the 92 scheduled WoO race nights on the 2014 schedule. Schatz leads the championship standings by 73 points over Daryn Pittman and has won eight times, earned 29 top-fives and 39 top-10s. Kinser is coming off an impressive run from 14th to fourth in the Boothill Showdown finale at Dodge City (Kan.) Raceway Park and continues to hold the eighth position in the championship standings.
Wednesday at Limaland Raceway Park, the pit gates will open at 3 p.m. EDT, with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call (419) 998-3199, or visit www.limaland.com.
On Friday at Eldora Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. EDT, with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For Saturday’s Kings Royal program, the pit gates will open at noon with the grandstands opening at 2 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. More details are available by calling Eldora Speedway 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 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:
You have such an impressive list of wins in the sport’s biggest races. What’s been the biggest reason you feel like you’ve done so well in the biggest events?
“Honestly, I’m not sure there is just one reason. It’s been a combination of several things over the years. I’ve always said that I’ve been fortunate to be with three really good teams for most of my career. Starting with Karl (Kinser), then I built my own team, and now I’m driving for Tony (Stewart). You have to have a good group around you to win any race, but when it’s a big race and everyone is at their best, you have to be better. That happens through preparation, teamwork and a desire to win. I’ve been competitive all my life. Whether it was trying to win high school championships as a wrestler to driving one of these Sprint cars, I always want to win. The big races are so much fun to not only be part of but, if you can be competing for the win, you know you’re doing something right. There’s no greater feeling than leaving a track at night knowing you came out on top that night. And when you can do that following one of the bigger races, it’s just that much better.”
During this “Salute to the King Tour,” you’ve been asked several times about some of your biggest accomplishments and race wins. Eldora and the Kings Royal almost always are part of your answer. What makes the Kings Royal and Eldora so special to you?
“Eldora has always been bigger than life to me. Maybe that happened early on when I’d get to come watch my dad race. It was just a place I wanted to get the chance to race. When Earl (Baltes) came up with the Kings Royal idea, everybody loved the concept of one night of racing for $50,000. The money was great, but it was the prestige of being the Kings Royal winner that everyone wanted and still wants today. Those wins were all special, and you remember sharing those wins with your team, your family, friends and all the fans. Those are some of the best times you have in racing.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J:
You’ve won two of the last three Brad Doty Classics at Lima. Will you and the STP return for Wednesday’s race with the same strategy?
“We’ve got the same strategy every night. We want to be fast in hot laps, qualify well and give ourselves a chance to win. Winning the Brad Doty Classic two times in the last three years doesn’t really give us an advantage, but we’re happy that we’ve done it and are on the T-shirt. It’s always one of the toughest races because there are so many cars and you have to get your car working all over the track. You have to be able to run the cushion, the bottom and the middle. The STP team (crew chief Rick Warner, car chief Steve Swenson and crewman Eric Prutzman) has done a great job of fine tuning our car and keep getting it better. Last year, we weren’t anything special in the heat race or the dash, but they found something for the feature and I was able to drive right up through there. Our goal will be the same when we get there. We’ll try to continue qualifying well and try to give ourselves a chance to be there at the end.”
The list of wins you have during Sprint car racing’s “Month of Money” is pretty impressive. How does the experience of winning one of the sport’s biggest races help you and your team heading into a race like the Kings Royal?
“It certainly helps you have a game plan. We always look at each race the same but, when you walk through the gates at those big events, you know it’s something more. When you are trying to win something for the first time, you just keep trying things until you figure it out. Once you’ve done it, the pressure really shifts from having to figure out how to win to being more about wanting to do it again. It’s not something that you can really explain but something you simply have to experience. We all look forward to the opportunity to race in events like the Kings Royal. That’s what it’s all about. A capacity crowd, great field of cars and the chance to be crowned at the end of the night. It’s been a while since I got to walk up on that stage and get the crown put on me. I know the STP guys are doing everything they can, so we can have a good shot at it Saturday.”
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.
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.