INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Stewart Racing’s Steve Kinser made a career of winning Sprint car racing’s most prestigious events, and his TSR teammate Donny Schatz is racking an impressive win list of his own. The one marquee event on the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series schedule that has eluded both since 2005 is the crown jewel of the West – the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California. Kinser leads all drivers with 12 Gold Cup titles and Schatz is looking to win his second Gold Cup when the Outlaws return to Northern California for the 61st running of the event Friday and Saturday.
Kinser, driver of the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim, is in his final full campaign on the road with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” in a season being recognized as the World of Outlaws “Salute to the King Tour.” The Bloomington, Indiana, native won the Gold Cup at Chico the first two times he raced on the quarter-mile dirt oval in 1978 and 1979, and he has been a force at the event the last three decades. In 1983 and 1984, he won back-to-back Gold Cups again and, between 1986 and 1988, he scored three more. He won the race again in 1990 and 1992 and, a decade later, won consecutive Gold Cups in 2002 and 2003. His most recent Gold Cup win came in 2005, the season he won his 20th WoO crown. Kinser raced from 18th to second in the 2011 Gold Cup finale and from 23rd to 10th last season. He has amassed 24 victories at the track.
While Kinser is the all-time winningest driver in Gold Cup history, Schatz comes into the event hungry to end a Gold Cup finale winless streak that’s reached 10 seasons. The pilot of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J has won three races in Chico since dominating the 2004 Gold Cup, where he led all 30 laps of his preliminary feature and all 40 of the finale. In 2010, he won the Friday-night feature and, in March 2011, he won the Mini Gold Cup. In 2012, he won the opening-night feature, finished fourth Friday and second in the 40-lap finale. Last year, Schatz was forced to use a provisional starting positing and charged from 25th to 11th.
Following the Gold Cup in Chico, the TSR teams will travel to the Bay Area for the final appearance in California for 2014 at Antioch Speedway. Kinser won the Outlaws’ debut at the 3/8-mile clay oval in 2011 and has posted top-10 finishes in each of the three fall stops at Antioch. Schatz finished 13th in 2011, came home second in 2012 and finished 11th last September.
Schatz leads the series to California for the final West Coast appearance of 2014 on a tear. The five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion has finished fourth or better in 19 consecutive races. He recently had a six-race winning streak that included sweeps of races at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta and Skagit Speedway in Alger, Washington. The consistency has enabled the STP team to create a sizeable advantage in the standings as Schatz chases a sixth WoO title. His win Monday at Grays Harbor Raceway Park in Elma, Washington was his 20th of the season, and he became the first driver since Kinser in 2004 and 2005 to win 20 races in consecutive seasons.
Kinser won his 577th career A-Feature in this year’s season-opening event at Volusia Speedway Park and continues to chase win number 578. “The King of the Outlaws” is coming off a podium finish Monday in Elma and a top-10 finish Wednesday in Medford, Oregon after qualifying second.
Following Wednesday’s WoO race at Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, the Outlaws have contested 74 of the 92 scheduled race nights of the 2014 WoO STP campaign. Schatz leads the series championship with 9,954 points and has a 210-point lead over Daryn Pittman. Schatz leads the series with 20 victories, 51 top-five finishes and 64 top-10s. Kinser ranks eighth and has posted nine top-fives and 35 top-10s.
For both races at Silver Dollar Speedway, the pit gates will open at 2 p.m. PDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call Silver Dollar Speedway at (916) 969-7484 or visit www.silverdollarspeedway.com.
On Sunday at Antioch Speedway, the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. PDT with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For more details and ticket information, call the track at (925) 779-9220 or visit www.antiochspeedway.com.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s events 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 live results from the track.
Steve Kinser, Driver of the No. 11 TSR/Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim:
When you think of the Gold Cup, what comes to your mind?
“You always think of the wins. It started early in my career and going to California for the Gold Cup was always a big deal. It was one of the races you wanted to win. All the best guys from the West would be there and it was like Knoxville, where you had to be on your game every time you hit the track. The challenge was different because it’s a short track and you have to be able move around quite a bit. The people would come from everywhere to be part of the Gold Cup. We’ve met so many people who have become friends. You get to see most of them at the Gold Cup. The race itself is pretty exciting once you get to Saturday night. In 40 laps, anything can happen. I’d like to start a little closer to the front this year. Seems like we’ve been way back the last few years but, knowing this is my last full season, I’d sure like to leave Chico with the trophy.”
This stretch after Knoxville through California can be grueling. Does the experience you and your Bad Boy Buggies team have help when you are racing so frequently?
“The biggest thing that helps is if you are running well. When you are having success on the track, you can’t wait to get to the next one. Everybody leaves Knoxville with a little bit of weight off his shoulders and you can look forward to seeing the country and racing regularly. With all the years we’ve been doing this, it just seems natural. We’ve been able to qualify a little better recently and actually started up front a couple of nights. We were up there at Elma and (at Southern Oregon Speedway) we qualified second and pretty much stayed up right around the top-five most of the night. We’re hoping to be able to maintain what we’ve been doing here lately and try to get a little better at the end of the night.”
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J:
August was a great month for you and the STP team. How can you follow that up in September?
“The biggest thing is we have a lot of races in front us and what’s happened already doesn’t affect that. We’re trying to win every night, and we know that realistically it’s not possible, but that’s our goal. Last year, we were able to end the season with a lot of wins and our goal is to do better than we did last year. We’ve had a really good run through Edmonton and Washington and we’ve got three races in California. We haven’t won the Gold Cup finale in quite a few years and that would be a good one to add to the win list. The STP guys (Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Eric Prutzman) have worked extremely hard and the results are coming because of that. We have a lot of things to accomplish during this next month, starting this weekend in Chico.”
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