BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — A driver knows they have made it when all someone has to do is say their first name and everyone knows exactly who they are talking about. The same goes for a track, when just the location of the track is mentioned and it’s instantly known what venue is being referred to. Chico happens to be one of those tracks. Silver Dollar Speedway to be exact, located at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, Calif.
Chico is where Kraig Kinser is headed this weekend aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation Maxim, as the World of Outlaws West Coast swing continues with two full nights of racing as part of the Mini Gold Cup. The event opens on Friday, March 23 and concludes on Saturday, March 24.
“Chico can be a very challenging track,” noted Kinser. “Having a good car right out of the gate is always important at Chico. You have to qualify well and run good in your heat race. There is a lot of good competition out there and you have to be on your game to have a solid weekend.”
Kinser competed at the ¼-mile Silver Dollar Speedway for the first time in 2004 during the famed Gold Cup Race of Champions, racing his way into the main event in that contest. The third generation driver has made 13 main events starts with the World of Outlaws at Chico, including preliminary features, with 10 of those starts coming during the Gold Cup in the fall and three during the Mini Gold Cup in the spring.
“In the spring, there hasn’t been much racing on the track yet, so sometimes the surface is different than when we go back for the Gold Cup,” explained Kinser. “It’s a combination of a lot of different things, including how the people working on the track deal with Mother Nature. I’ve seen the track be the same in the spring and the fall, so we’ll see what we have when we get there and hopefully we can figure it out quick.”
The native of Bloomington, Ind. has three career Top-10 finishes at Silver Dollar Speedway, with two of those being Top-Five performances. Kinser has competed in the Mini Gold Cup on two occasions, first in 2009 and most recently last year. He finished a career-best third in the finale of the 2009 Mini Gold Cup and was 12th last season in the 35-lap contest, after opening the night by turning the fifth-fastest lap in time trials. In the Gold Cup Race of Champions last September, he finished 17th in the opener and was 16th in the finale.
“The short tracks in California definitely have a different shape than short tracks in other parts of the country,” shared Kinser. “Each one has its own feel. They seem to keep the tracks a little wetter in California than the smaller tracks in the Midwest, which usually slick off faster when we run them in the summer. The tracks in California seem to be tackier and a little rougher, so it’s just something you have to learn to adapt to and get through.”
Kinser heads into the Mini Gold Cup tied for fifth in the World of Outlaws championship standings, on the strength of five Top-10 finishes in the first six races of the 2012 campaign. He is one of just three drivers that has five Top-10 finishes this season. The 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner has qualified among the Top-Five in each of the last four races to earn bonus points in the standings.
“We just want to continue to be fast and put together whole nights,” said Kinser. “Running up front will make it a good weekend for me at Chico. I think we have a car good enough to run up front and I’m shooting for a Top-Five. We always go into a race looking to win, and if you don’t win, you certainly want to be fast and be up front.”
Kraig Kinser By the Numbers: Silver Dollar Speedway
0.25- Miles around Silver Dollar Speedway
2- Career Top-Five finishes at the quarter-mile
3- Career Top-10 finishes at Silver Dollar Speedway
5- Total nights of racing this season for the World of Outlaws at Chico; Top-10 finishes earned this season
6- Feature events contested by the seires this season
8- Races on quarter-mile tracks for the World of Outlaws in 2011
10.918- Track record at Silver Dollar Speedway
13- Feature starts in World of Outlaws events at Silver Dollar Speedway, including preliminary features
13.2- Average finish in 13 feature events starts at Silver Dollar Speedway
308- Miles from Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. where the World of Outlaws compete on March 16-17 to Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif.
800- Points earned in the first six events this season
2004- Year of first start at Silver Dollar Speedway
11,950- Dollars earned through March 16