Kinser Headlines TSR Lineup
Tony Stewart announced the lineup of drivers for his short track teams and it includes “The King”, Steve Kinser.
Four-time and reigning World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz, driver of Tony Stewart Racing’s No. 15 Armor All/STP/J&J machine, will vie for his fifth consecutive crown and will team with Sprint Car icon Kinser, who will chase his 21st WoO championship behind the wheel of TSR’s No. 11 Bass Pro Shops/J.D. Byrider Maxim.
Meanwhile, three-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Levi Jones will defend his title in TSR’s No. 20 Bass Pro Shops/Armor All/Chevy entry. Jones will also chase his first USAC Silver Crown championship driving the No. 10 Bass Pro Shops/Armor All/Chevy machine, where he will be teamed with newcomer Bryan Clauson, who will pilot TSR’s No. 22 Bass Pro Shops/Armor All/Chevy in the Silver Crown division.
“We’ve put together a strong driver lineup for 2010,” said Stewart, the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and TSR team owner. “We started our short track program with the goal of building a championship team. In the years since, it’s expanded to multiple titles and now our focus is maintaining that level of consistency. With four straight championships, Donny Schatz has shown that he’ll go down as one of the all-time bests in the winged Sprint car ranks, and to have him team up with 20-time champion Steve Kinser gives TSR a pretty stout 1-2 punch heading into the season. Our goal is to have them racing each other for the World of Outlaws championship this year.
“On the USAC side, our program has changed its focus, slightly. But in the end, we still have our sights set on winning championships. Levi and his crew did a great job last year to win another USAC Sprint Car championship, and I know they’re excited about trying to get another one. The Silver Crown division is one that we haven’t won outright as an organization, but we feel like Levi and Bryan Clauson give us a tremendous chance this year.”
Schatz will again pilot the TSR No. 15 car in the rugged WoO tour, which is scheduled to offer 80 nights of racing in 2010. He recently concluded a three-week racing tour in Australia, where he won three races, including his eighth $50,000 Scott Darley Memorial at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway near Sydney, and his third consecutive World Series Sprintcars Australian Open event at Archerfield Speedway near Brisbane. The Armor All crew will continue to include crew chief Rick Warner and crewman Shane Bowers, both of whom have been with Schatz for all four WoO titles. Steve Swenson, who has been with TSR since 2006, will join the No. 15 crew in 2010.
“I’m ready to get going and glad to be back doing what we love to do, and that’s being in the seat,” said Schatz, who won 12 WoO features in 2009 and his fourth consecutive Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals championship. “There are a lot of new things this year, including having Steve Kinser as my teammate. What else could you ask for? He’s the king, and to have him under the Tony Stewart Racing banner is pretty cool.
“We’re still going to have to beat on each other on the track and race each other, but now we have a closer affiliation. He is the premier driver in our sport and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Kinser, who will be starting his 31st WoO campaign, brings not only his signature No. 11, but also the core of his crew, including longtime crew chief Scott Gerkin and crewman Gary DuBois. Travis LoGrande will serve as a third crewman on the TSR Bass Pro Shops entry. The team begins the chase for Kinser’s 553rd WoO victory and, ultimately, his 21st championship, when the Outlaws open their 2010 campaign Feb. 5 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
“I’m happy to be at Tony Stewart Racing and I’m looking forward to getting out there and start racing,” said Kinser, who hails from Bloomington, Ind., located just 35 miles from Stewart’s home in Columbus, Ind.
“Our sport, like everything, is tough right now. So to have the opportunity to go and drive for Tony is really a great thing. We’re excited to be associated with people from Bass Pro Shops and J.D. Byrider, and I’m sure Donny and I will be pushing one another to be the best. Over the years, we’ve gotten along great, and I think Ricky (Warner) and Scott (Gerkin) will work really well together. I honestly think it’s going to be good for all of us.”
For Jones, the 2010 season is an opportunity to continue his success behind the wheel of a non-winged Sprint Car and buck his trend of only winning championships in odd years. He won his first crown in 2005, scored his second driving the TSR No. 20 Chevy in 2007, and claimed his third last season, also driving for TSR. If Jones can win a fourth USAC Sprint Car Series title this year, he will tie the record set by Steve Butler in 1990.
The USAC Sprint Car season begins Feb. 8-10 at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, Fla.
“I’m really looking forward to racing for a fourth championship as part of Tony Stewart Racing,” Jones said. “Entering this season, we’re probably more prepared than we ever have been as a team. The last time we started the season at East Bay Raceway, we came away with a win. We’re hoping to make that a tradition. I’d also really like to break our cycle of only winning championships in odd-numbered years. If we’re able to tie the record for number of Sprint Car titles this year, it would really mean a lot to do so as part of Tony Stewart Racing.”
Jones’ teammate for 2010, Clauson, is expected to make TSR a threat for the USAC Silver Crown Series title this year. Clauson, who hails from Noblesville, Ind., wrapped up the 2009 season with a victory in the prestigious Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Thanksgiving night.
He brings with him several years of experience in all three USAC national racing series and in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In addition to having 23 USAC victories on his resume, Clauson also had an outstanding 2009, having won the USAC Indiana Midget Week title, the Belleville (Kan.) Midget Nationals and the Glenn Howard Memorial at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway.
“It’s an honor to join Tony Stewart Racing,” said Clauson, who began his racing career as a 5-year-old in Quarter Midgets. “Obviously, what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last few years is unbelievable, which makes this an ideal situation heading into my first full-time run in the Silver Crown series. It was a big deal for me, personally, to get this opportunity and race with a team capable of winning a championship. I’m looking forward to working with everyone at TSR. Our goal is to win some races and have a lot of fun this season.”No Comment