Friday-Saturday, March 14-15, 2014 (Tulare, CA) - Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teammates Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz opened up the World of Outlaws (WoO) STP Sprint Car Series nine-race run through California this past weekend at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare. Schatz led the two-car contingent with Friday’s runner-up finish behind the wheel of the TSR No. 15 STP/Armor All/Crimsafe J&J. Kinser advanced through the field both nights driving the TSR No. 11 Bad Boy Buggies/J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet Performance Maxim as the “Salute to the King Tour” kicked off five straight weekends of action in the Golden State.
The TSR tandem ventured to California riding high with both Schatz and Kinser coming in with impressive streaks during the first six nights of action in the 2014 campaign. Schatz, the five-time WoO STP Sprint Car Series champion, entered Friday with a run of five consecutive top-five finishes and began the program at the 1/3-mile, dirt oval by qualifying seventh in the field of 31 cars. The Fargo, N.D., racer won the opening heat and finished second in the dash to earn an outside-front-row starting position in the 35-lap A-Feature. In the main event, Schatz followed polesitter Logan Schuchart during the first 15 laps, pulling beside the leader once as the duo worked lapped traffic.
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A mistake by a lapped car nearly cost Schatz his night, but the veteran was able to check up before making contact and continued his pursuit. Unfortunately, the leader got away and Daryn Pittman and Paul McMahan got by Schatz. He raced back around McMahan and tracked down Pittman as the duo moved past Schuchart. Schatz spent the final six laps trying to reel in Pittman, but the closest he would come was his rear bumper at the finish line.
Kinser, a 20-time WoO champion, was looking to continue his streak of four straight podium finishes Friday at Thunderbowl. “The King of the Outlaws” timed in sixth, but with a racing surface locked down during the three heats, he wasn’t able to grab a position in the dash. He started 12th and patiently worked his way up to seventh to score his fifth top-10 of the season.
Both drivers returned Saturday night for another complete night of racing. Schatz was the second car to hit the track in qualifying and ultimately ranked fifth in the field of 29 cars. Kinser was the seventh car to circle the track in time trials but would end up 20th. As the case was Friday night, there was not a lot of passing in the heat races, which resulted in Schatz finishing fourth and missing the dash. Kinser finished eighth and had to earn his spot in the 35-lap A-Feature by racing through the Last Chance Showdown. The Bloomington, Ind., racer finished second in the 12-lap race to earn the 19th-starting position. In the A-Feature, Kinser was able to race his way up to 13th while Schatz finished 15th.
Rico Abreu became the sixth different winner in eight 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series races. The California youngster led the final 28 laps to earn his first career WoO A-Feature victory.
Through eight nights of 92 scheduled races, Schatz ranks second in the 2014 WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship standings with 1,126 points. He trails leader McMahan by 21 markers while Kinser ranks fourth with 1,112 points.
The California tour resumes Saturday with the FVP Western Spring Shootout at the Stockton Dirt Track. Last spring, the Outlaws made their debut at the 3/8-mile dirt oval in the San Joaquin Valley, where Schatz charged from 13th to third while Kinser finished eighth.