When the green flag drops this Friday evening for the Eyecon Trail Cameras Big Game Shootout at the Jackson Speedway, 20-time World of Outlaws Champion Steve Kinser will be glad to be on the historic half-mile.
"I've always enjoyed running at Jackson," Kinser said late last week from his home in Indiana. "Jackson is a fast race track and we've always run well there. It's a nice, big half mile to run on."
As Kinser and the World of Outlaws return to Jackson Speedway Friday night, June 14, the event will actually be the season opener at the speedway, located on the Jackson County Fairgrounds. The wet weather of the Spring has prompted several postponements for Promoter Jon McCorkell and his staff, but Friday promises to kick off the 2013 racing season in high fashion with the winged 410 cubic inch World of Outlaw sprint cars. The Outlaws have had their share of weather issues this Spring, including a rainout last weekend, so Friday's show promises lots of action.
With their campaign opening in February, the World of Outlaws criss-crosses the U.S. racing on tracks ranging from quarter-mile to half-mile ovals, but more races have been held on tracks three-eighths of a mile in size.
For Steve Kinser, driver of the #11 Bad Boys Buggies sprint car, being able to run the half-mile at Jackson is a treat. "I like the variation in tracks that we run on, but I truly love the half mile tracks more than the shorter ones. It's about the speed of the big tracks.it's just kind of a shame that we've lost a lot of those half-mile tracks. We don't run as many as we used to and now it seems like we're losing races on them. I think its fun to run on a half mile like Jackson."
As a bit of history, the World of Outlaws have appeared seven times at Jackson Speedway. Bobby Davis, Jr. won the inaugural race on July 9, 1987. Sammy Swindell won on July 6, 1988, and Steve Kinser won in a return race on August 20 1988, before picking up his second win on Sept. 24 of 2004. Daryn Pittman took the checkers on Sept. 23, 2005 and Donny Schatz won the show on Sept. 15, 2006. In the 2010 visit, it was Kinser in the Bass Pro Shops car taking the checkers to become the only three-time winner of a World of Outlaws event at Jackson Speedway.
But as Kinser and the World of Outlaws roll into Jackson on Friday night, the King knows he'll have his work cut out for him. As the defending champion, obviously, he has a target on his back. But, there's also another challenge ahead of him.
"This has been one of the worst season we've had," Kinser admitted. "So far, we've only won one race (El Paso, TX on April 16). We're struggling in qualifying and just having troubles. It's just something we have to fight through."
And besides, it's not like I've never had these troubles before," Kinser chuckled.
As a driver for Tony Stewart Racing, Kinser has the unique situation of being able to run his operation independently of TSR teammate Donny Schatz, something that means a lot to him. But at the same time, having Stewart, the NASCAR superstar and owner of Eldora Speedway, as well as an accomplished sprint car pilot, as a team owner might be intimidating to many, Kinser is comfortable with the arrangement for a couple of reasons.
"Tony gives me the freedom to run this deal as I want, out of my own shop, with our own engine program," Kinser said. "It's a lot different than it is for Donny. But the one thing about it, where Tony gives me that freedom, I have nobody to complain about other than myself, just like it's always been."
Kinser paused for a moment. "The other thing is Tony did this deal to help me continue racing, to be honest about it, and it gives me the freedom to go out and do just that."
Friday evening's Eyecon Trail Cameras Big Game Shootout at the Jackson Speedway will get underway with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and qualifying at 7 p.m. and racing at 7:30 p.m. Also appearing during the night will be the inaugural outing of the Minnakota Micro Sprints on the newly built track in front of the grandstands and the 305 cubic inch winged sprint cars.
The pits will open at 2 p.m. and grandstands open at 4 p.m. Advanced tickets are available online at www.slspromotions.com, or by calling 1-815-344-2023. Tickets will also be available Friday, June 14 at the Jackson Speedway.