WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. – An unexpected one-off race appearance for Kraig Kinser’s crew chief may have played a part in the team’s recent string of constructive finishes.
Before Kinser’s crew chief Mike Kuemper ran the team’s back-up car at Arizona Speedway in April, Kinser had missed a Feature and finished no better than 15th.
Afterward, he scored two top-10s in a row – including one top-five finish – went quick time in qualifying, won a DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash and led laps at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
Kuemper – who has experience racing with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series – only ran five laps of the feature at Arizona Speedway, but he said it was enough to gather newfound knowledge that could help Kinser.
“I learned some stuff in the way the car is driving and handling a little bit, trying to get it better for him with me being in it for those short amount of laps,” Kuemper said. “It helped out, because I went back to his car and did a little bit to his.”
What he deduced was their shock package needed to be adjusted and some bars of the chassis needed to be changed around.
“After we got done running that (race at Arizona Speedway), we changed the car around,” Kuemper said.
Their string of good finishes has currently propelled Kinser into the top-10 in points – 132 points behind ninth-place Sheldon Haudenschild.
He and Kinser are looking to continue their recent run of positive finishes into a doubleheader race weekend – May 3 at Riverside Int’l Speedway in West Memphis, Ark., and May 4 at Tri-State Speedway in Kinser’s home state of Indiana.
“I love getting back home, running close to family,” said Kinser, who hails from Bloomington, Ind. “We don’t get too many chances in Indiana, so we try to make those count. Then, West Memphis … I’m just looking forward to the whole weekend.”
Both tracks are quarter-mile speedways, but produced varying results for Kinser last year.
He found the top-10 at Riverside, while finishing 15th at Tri-State – a track Kinser acknowledged he is usually “hit or miss” at.
Even though the Arkansas track favored him last year, Kinser has his eye on racing back home in front of friends and family.
“Being from southern Indiana, my family’s been to Haubstadt for a long, long time,” Kinser said. “I grew up watching and racing there. Got to see a lot of good non-wing races, a lot of good winged races there, too. It’s a good track not too far from home.”
His father, 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, won at Tri-State Speedway seven times. Kraig Kinser is still looking for his first victory at the speedway – and his first since 2017.
A home state win at Tri-State would definitely be mean a lot to him, Kraig Kinser said.
In general, Kraig, Kuemper and the Steve Kinser Racing team are looking to just keep their streak of good finishes rolling into doubleheader races.
“We’re trying to take the positives into that weekend,” Kinser said. “We’re hoping for the best and doing what we can do.”