Tony Stewart Racing Tandem Set To Resume Title Battle in North Dakota
INDIANAPOLIS (June 14, 2012) – The last time Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz competed on North Dakota soil, the result was a photo finish that left fans cheering in appreciation. That battle royal was last August at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, when Kinser and Schatz highlighted the thrilling World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series event by exchanging the lead nine times in the final 10 laps. This weekend, Kinser and Schatz return to the Roughrider State looking to resume their battle both on the track for wins and in the WoO championship standings.
The North Dakota doubleheader opens Friday with the Outlaws’ 10th-ever race at River Cities and Saturday returns to Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo for the first time since 2009. The Fargo stop has been a staple on the Outlaws’ schedule since 1981 and, thanks to hard work by the Schatz family, the series will hold its 60th race on the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.
Kinser, who has won WoO A-Feature races at River Cities in each of the last two seasons behind the wheel of the TSR No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Maxim, leads the series into North Dakota holding a 10-point advantage over Schatz in the standings. Schatz, who finished second twice last year at the 3/10-mile dirt oval driving the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J, returns to his home state looking to end a 15-race winless streak.
Schatz caught the racing bug as a child watching Kinser do battle with Sammy Swindell and Doug Wolfgang. He made his WoO debut in July 1993 at Red River Valley and became a WoO winner in his home state for the first time at Red River Valley in July 2002. The four-time WoO champion won again at his home track in June 2006, when he swept both the preliminary and A-Feature. The following year, the Outlaws made their debut at River Cities, when Schatz finished third in June 2007 and followed by winning WoO stops in Grand Forks the next two seasons.
Kinser and Schatz are coming off a busy week that included three WoO races at three tracks. Kinser charged from 17th to eighth at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway Tuesday, and from 21st to seventh Friday at Clay County Fair Speedway. Schatz finished sixth at Kokomo and, like Kinser, charged through the field at Clay County, racing from 22nd to eighth. They closed the week at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, where Schatz finished fourth and Kinser came home 14th.
Donny Schatz, Driver of the No. 15 TSR/STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J:
Early in your career, you put more emphasis on the races in Fargo than maybe some of the others. How were you able to change your approach and ultimately win there on a consistent basis?
“I think early in my career I wanted to run well at home so bad that sometimes that got in the way. I was out on the road full-time getting my butt kicked by those guys and, when I was home, I wanted to make everyone there proud. I had to learn to try and treat it like another race. Yeah, there were more family, friends and fans cheering for you in Fargo, but it still got back to doing the right things with the car throughout the night. I was never going to be able to have has many laps as guys like Steve (Kinser) and Sammy (Swindell). Once we finally won in 2002, some of the pressure came off and we just tried to keep building on that. We won again in 2003 and then swept the weekend in 2006. We let a few get away in there, too, but the biggest thing was just maturing as a driver and as a team.”
Ever since the Outlaws started racing in Grand Forks, you’ve been one of the guys to beat. What makes you so good there?
“It’s just about having a good combination of car, motor and shocks. Don Mack and his crew do a great job of providing a really good track for us to race on. We’ve had some really good runs there and had some decent luck, as well. It might not be my hometown, but I still want to win in Grand Forks every time we race. In talking with a lot of the Outlaw competitors, I’m pretty sure most of them really enjoy racing there. We’re hoping they’ll feel the same way about Red River Valley Speedway after Saturday night. My family has put a lot of time into making it a facility that provides good racing and a quality experience for the fans. I just hope after four or five years my stats on the new 3/8-mile in Fargo are close to what I’ve done in Grand Forks.”