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King Kinser Will Get A Royal Send Off In 2014

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 12 2014

Steve Kinser will attempt to win his 21st World of Outlaws championship over the coming months. (Photos courtesy of Tony Stewart Racing)

In the mid-1980s, a guy from the advertising department at the newspaper I worked for in Colorado came to my desk and asked if I was going to the local dirt track that weekend. When asked why, ad guy gave a two-word answer: Kinser’s there.

Not the sprint cars or the World of Outlaws or the Greatest Show on Dirt. Kinser.

Race fans who want to see Steve Kinser, a 20-time Outlaws champion, do his unparalleled thing when the top winged sprint car series comes through their area will have, it appears, just one more season to do it.

Kinser, who will turn 60 years of age in June, has announced that the 2014 season will be his final full season.

Seems eating dirt 85 nights a year gets old after about four decades. Even for somebody who has also tasted main-event victories 576 times.

Kinser, who currently drives for the Outlaws team owned by Tony Stewart, announced his plans for 2014 last December. The announcement, he said this week, was not an easy one to make.

“Without a doubt, it was really difficult,” the “King of the Outlaws” said. “When I decided to do this, I don’t think it fully hit me until they officially announced it was going to be the last season. I’ve raced with the World of Outlaws up and down the road so long. It’s what I’ve done for more than 35 years. Racing has been a part of my life since I think I was born, watching my dad race.”

Watching Steve Kinser race has been a big part of a lot of people’s lives. Like advertising guy and like Stewart, who was a short track phenom before he was a three-time Sprint Cup champion.

In 2010, after signing Kinser to his team, I asked Stewart how he felt about having a childhood hero drive one of his sprint cars.

“It makes me feel like Roger Penske on the IndyCar side and Chip Ganassi on the road race side and Rick Hendrick on the Cup side,” Stewart said during a media center chat at

Steve Kinser will take one final tour of the dirt tracks in 2014.

Chicagoland Speedway.

“It’s pretty cool to have a guy that’s won 20 Outlaw championships and 14 Knoxville Nationals and however many races he’s won there, driving your car. “

The 2014 season – and the Salute to the King Tour, as 2014 is being called – is scheduled to start Friday at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

There are a number of reasons why Kinser is anxious to get back behind the wheel of his Bad Boy Buggies sprint car.

One of those is to put memories of a disappointing 2013 season – in which he finished eighth in points with just two main-event victories – to rest.

“Last season was, quite honestly, a disaster,” Kinser, an Indiana high school wrestling state champion, said. “Nobody on the Bad Boy Buggies team was happy about our performance. So, this winter, we all put our focus on performing better. I went to Australia and raced a handful of times and had some success. I feel ready to go right now. Scott (Gerkin, crew chief) and Gary (DuBois, car chief) put in a lot of time back at the shop getting us prepared to come out of the box strong. We tested last week and honestly feel like we’re ready. I’m excited to get back into the car.”

Because Volusia is the first race of the year, and because the track is located just down the road from Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks, the event attracts high car counts and even higher driver-quality counts.

Perfect, Kinser said.

“That’s what you want as a competitor,” he said. “You want to beat the best. There is still no greater feeling than ending your night with that trophy. That’s why we work so hard before we get to the track so that, when we sign in, we feel like we’re there to win. Everyone works hard in the winter and comes to Volusia with really good equipment.

“It’s a fast track and you can really make some speed there. We’ve had some good runs there the past few years and we’re geared up to come out swinging. I really want to get off to a good start and put our Bad Boy Buggies in position to contend for wins all weekend.”

While 2014 may represent Kinser’s last opportunity to collect as 21st WoO championship, it may not be his last chance to collect a few more main event victories.

“I always told myself that if I couldn’t run all the races that I would probably hang it up,” he said. “I’m going to get through this year and run all the races, and after that I’m going to sit back down and sort of weigh what’s going on and decide whether I want to run some kind of limited schedule. I might continue running a race team or be associated with Tony Stewart, somehow. I just know I’m getting to the age and things where my body is telling me it’s sort of time to slow down a little bit.”

For 2014, just a very little bit.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 12 2014
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