AUTO RACING: Kinser, Schatz recall last season's classic at River Cities Speedway
Steve Kinser is the King of the Outlaws. He's the World of Outlaws' most recognizable driver as he's won 20 championships. He's seen it all in sprint car racing. What he experienced last August at River Cities Speedway, however, isn't seen that o...
Steve Kinser is the King of the Outlaws. He's the World of Outlaws' most recognizable driver as he's won 20 championships.
He's seen it all in sprint car racing.
What he experienced last August at River Cities Speedway, however, isn't seen that often. Kinser and Donny Schatz -- teammates with Tony Stewart Racing and the two biggest names in the sport -- waged an epic side-by-side race to the checkered flag in the closing laps of the 40-lap feature.
Kinser won by less than a tenth of a second, prompting Schatz to say afterward: "I just had Sprint Car 101 from Steve Kinser. I don't think I've ever had that much fun in a sprint car."
Kinser, Schatz and the rest of the Outlaws return tonight at River Cities Speedway, where the winner takes home $10,000.
The August race at RCS is one Kinser still remembers.
"Those kinds of races don't come around every day," Kinser said. "You may see races like that only three or four times a year. It was a good race, especially when you're racing a guy like Donny."
Kinser enters the first leg of the Duel in the Dakotas with a 10-point lead over Schatz, last year's Knoxville Nationals winner.
"We both want to win; we race each other hard," Kinser said. "Over the years, he's been a fierce competitor but he's a clean racer."
The Outlaws have raced at RCS since 2007. Most of the nine previous WoO features have gone down to the wire, but they never involved Kinser and Schatz going toe-to-toe on the last lap.
"I remember it well," said Schatz. "It was a fun race. If my heart's pounding and the King's heart is pounding, you know the people in the stands had to be enjoying that race."
Both Kinser and Schatz overall are pleased with the start to their seasons.
"Last year, we won a bunch of races early, then had trouble," Kinser said. "This year, we've been pretty consistent. We're plugging away in the top 10 each night."
With the Outlaws racing from February through November each season, Schatz said it's important to look ahead, not back.
"We're trying a lot of things and trying to be more consistent with our engine program," Schatz said. "We're finally getting a good handle on it.
"Our season is nothing to brag about. But with all the bad runs we've had, I guess the season is somewhat OK."
More than 30 sprints are expected to race on the quarter-mile track tonight. RCS is one of the shortest tracks the Outlaws race on each season.
But it's also one of the fastest.
"It may be hard to understand, but that's a pretty small track that races bigger than it is," Kinser said, referring to RCS.
Kinser will be looking for his third career win at RCS tonight, one that could help the Bloomington, Ind., driver win his 21st career championship.
"You race to win championships," Kinser said.
Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to email@example.com .