Kraig Kinser Ends Winless Drought
KOKOMO, Ind. — A fired-up Kraig Kinser reveled on the infield stage as confetti showered his celebration.
Kinser snapped a 39-race winless streak with the World of Outlaws in impressive fashion on Tuesday at Kokomo Speedway in the third round of the Kasey Kahne Challenge. He led all but the first lap to secure his 12th career Outlaws win in front of a near capacity crowd.
As meaningful as it was to get the monkey off his back, the Indiana native was just as enthused to find his way to victory lane at a track that has historic significance to his family.
“I love running in my home state of Indiana,” he said. “This track has a lot of history with my family, so being able to add a little more history with the Kinser name is unbelievable for me.”
Kinser, who grew up and resides in Bloomington, picked up his first career sprint car victory at the quarter-mile track. He also claimed a World of Outlaws feature in 2005 at Kokomo Speedway, where his father, 20-time Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, holds a series-best six victories.
“It goes way up there with me,” Kraig Kinser said. “And not just with me, but my grandpa, my cousins, my uncle, my dad; they just have a lot of history at this track and a lot of tracks in Indiana.””
Kinser qualified third quickest of the 31 competitors and finished fourth in his heat race, locking himself into the dash. The inversion for the eight-lap dash was a six, starting him on the outside of the second row. Kinser gained one position to earn the third starting spot for the feature.
It didn’t take long for Kinser to find the lead. After two failed attempts to start the main event — the first for Brian Paulus’ flip in turn three followed by Kyle Larson and Austen Wheatley spinning in turn four -Kinser advanced to second by lap two, when the third caution occurred.
Polesitter Joey Saldana chose the outside lane for the double-file restart, putting Kinser on the inside. His restart made the duo even at the flag stand and Kinser took the lead entering turn one, pulling away to a sizeable advantage.
As he entered traffic for the first time, Sammy Swindell, who was in fourth place, tipped over in turn three on lap 10. Swindell’s car was towed to the pits and he ended with a 20th-place finish, which dropped him to a season-worst fourth in the championship standings.
Kinser set a blistering pace as the final 31 laps were caution free. Craig Dollansky, who passed Saldana for second on lap 11, closed to within a couple of car lengths when Kinser was stuck in thick traffic. However, Kinser always had an answer to retain the top spot.
“Kraig drove a great race,” said Dollansky, who advanced to third in the standings. “We were right there. If he would have made a mistake there ….”
Saldana outlasted KSE Hard Charger Dave Blaney for the final spot on the podium.
“Obviously the third-place finish is awesome tonight, but when you start on the front row and run third, we gave a good, solid night up,” Saldana said. “That race played out perfect for Kraig Kinser’s car. He’s been good. He’s definitely been fast enough to win these races and he’s had bad luck, so he definitely deserved that win tonight.”
Brad Sweet, who started on the outside of the front row, finished fifth. Donny Schatz was sixth and Steve Kinser drove from 17th to seventh to maintain the standings lead. Daryn Pittman was eighth, Kerry Madsen ninth and Cody Darrah rounded out the top 10.
Swindell was the quickest in qualifying with a track-record time of 10.950 seconds.