PEVELY, Mo. — Prior to Friday’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, it had been almost two years since Kraig Kinser had led a lap in Outlaw competition.
Not only did he check that box again, pacing the 18th rotation of the third-mile dirt track, Kinser was in contention to win during the closing stages of the 40-lap main event.
The son of 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser came up just short of eventual winner Brad Sweet, who passed Kraig Kinser for the lead on lap 19 and led the remaining distance despite a pair of late cautions.
But the Mesilla Valley Transportation-backed No. 11k was never far from Sweet’s rear nerf bar.
Kinser kept Sweet within a second for much of the final 10 laps and ended up second, his best finish since Aug. 30, 2019 at Washington’s Skagit Speedway, when he also finished as the runner-up.
That night, Kinser started from the pole but was overhauled on the initial start by Logan Schuchart and chased Schuchart the entire distance. This time, Kinser raced from third forward to second.
“The car felt pretty good,” said Kinser, who led his first lap since May 25, 2019 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. “It was actually starting to blubber pretty hard at the end, the last three or four laps. I think it was getting pretty low on fuel, but the car felt balanced. I just made some poor decisions getting into (turn) one on restarts, just left the bottom wide open. I was a little flighty getting back to the gas on the restarts … I was having to pedal it to the cone, and I should’ve known better. If you leave an opening like that, you know, Brad’s the champion for a reason.
“You can’t leave those openings for him, but I like where we’re at and we’ll be ready for Saturday night.”
Through 10 races, Kinser ranks eighth in World of Outlaws points – 184 markers behind Sweet’s leading total – but feels he and his Kinser Racing team have finally turned a competitive corner again.
Kinser has four top-10 finishes in the first 10 races and his focus now is on returning to World of Outlaws victory lane, something he hasn’t done since July 6, 2017 at Deer Creek (Minn.) Speedway.
“You’re always feeling good when you’re running well,” Kinser tipped. “We don’t like backing up, giving up (command) after getting the lead and then running second, but it’s not all bad. We’ll take it, but we want those wins. I was trying pretty hard at the end and felt like we had a capable car up there.”
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season continues Saturday night with another full program at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
Kinser is a past winner at the Pevely, Mo., bullring, leading 35 of 40 laps en route to victory there on April 2, 2005. Friday’s race was the 16th anniversary of his lone win at Federated Auto Parts Raceway.