Random Musings from New Egypt
Last Tuesday, the stars of the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series made their annual stop at New Egypt Speedway. The half-mile dirt oval hosts local weekly races with small and big-block modifieds, street stocks, mini-sprints, midget cars and crate late models, but this was a marquee event.
First, Steve Kinser, the 20-time WoO champion and the “King of the Outlaws,” is in his final full season on the tour before going into semi-retirement to spend time with his wife and grandkids. His third grandchild was born the day of the event, which worked seamlessly into the gift provided by the track – a rocking chair.
Kinser’s teammate at Tony Stewart Racing is Donny Schatz, who came into the event as the only multiple-time winner at the track. He would be joined by defending series and race winner Daryn Pittman of Kasey Kahne Racing. Pittman would tally his fourth consecutive race win on the Northeast trek after wins in New York and Pennsylvania, the longest winning streak since 2011.
Those two teams are rivals due to being owned by Sprint Cup Series drivers and having the best equipment possible. Kinser and Schatz have 25 WoO titles between them, along with 19 victories in the biggest event, the Knoxville Nationals. Winning races and titles is the only way to be and Pittman joined the club last year. Pittman set the track record for a 410 sprint car at New Egypt in 2013 before leading all 30-laps of the main event.
This year, Pittman needed to make a daring pass through lap traffic to overtake “The Mad Man,” Kerry Madsen who led the first 21 laps of the main. Madsen eventually ceded second to Connecticut driver David Gravel driving for Roth Motorsports. Gravel was hired a couple months ago and has won already for the team, which was in flux with drivers previous to his arrival.
The track was racier due to dry conditions, allowing the drivers of the 900 horsepower beasts weighing only 1400 pounds a chance to move around. New Egypt sports a slight dogleg in the back straight that alters the exit of turn two and entrance to turn three. Add 23 other cars looking for the same piece of real estate and the fans in attendance (a larger crowd in 2014 than 2013) a glimpse into why WoO is called, “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”
Unlike NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 or sports that have huge corporate backing, the World of Outlaws still has a family aspect to their events. Steve Kinser’s son Kraig drives the family 11k alongside his father. Kinser’s wife runs the souvenir trailer while Schatz’s mother is in charge of his. I am personally guilty of spending too much money at said souvenir trailers.
Second-generation drivers Joey Saldana a.k.a “The Brownsburg (IN) Bullet” (who set his 12th quick time of the season and won Friday night in Charlotte) and “The Buckeye Bullet,” Dave Blaney could be seen sitting on a tire outside their haulers before the evening started. Scattered around the stars were upstart teams trying to take on the established group.
One example is Pennsylvania’s Ryan Smith, who runs the circuit along the Northeast, but brought his small team and legion of fans to New Egypt to compete against the best. After qualifying third fastest and finishing third in the dash to determine A-Main starting position, the driver of the Warko No. 94 finished ninth, but proved that he belonged.
In the end, the World of Outlaws did not disappoint in their only New Jersey stop of the season. For the speed, excitement and money, you cannot go wrong with watching a race at New Egypt Speedway. Just make sure to bring eye protection since rocks and dirt fly up from the spinning wheels.
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