In the 20-year history of the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Sprint Car series, Steve Kinser has won the championship 14 times.
The man the Sprint Car world calls "The King" visits Ransomville Speedway on Monday when the series makes its annual stop. He arrives with challengers to his crown.
The WOO points battle is the series' closest ever. Going into Wednesday's race at Knoxville, Iowa, Sammy Swindell led the pack with 6,598. Kinser and Dave Blaney were tied for second with 6,583 and Jac Haudenschild was one point behind them.
He also arrives on a literal and figurative roll.
Kinser won $100,000 last Saturday night in the aptly named "The King's Royal" at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. It was his fourth career triumph in this nationally televised event, one of the biggest on the circuit.
All did not go smoothly, however. In a seperate race at Eldora on Friday, Kinser slid into the guardrail and rolled his car a few times. He estimates he was going 150 mph and the car was totaled.
"I had a little accident," Kinser said. "I got too high and the right rear got into the loose stuff. I impacted the wall and over she went. It was my own fault. Hey, if you go for it every night in one of these cars, things like that happen every once in a while.
"We just pulled another car out and got ready for Saturday."
Saturday's big win turned his weekend around.
"I know we won $100,000," the Bloomington, Ind., native said. "Believe me, it was already spent before we earned it. The car we wrecked Friday was a $30,000 race car. You never make a profit in this game."
Nobody made anything at Ransomville last year when the WOO race was rained out twice. Monday's event is a hold-over from 1996 but its results will count in the 1997 points race.
"Let's hope for no rain for sure next Monday," said Kinser, driver of the Quaker State Motor Oil entry. "We got nothing but wet there last year."
Two years ago he got a wild ride on the safety road behind the first and second turns. Kinser was forced off of the front stretch at the entrance to Turn One and drove around the outside of the guardrail until coming back onto the track on the backstretch.
Ransomville race announcer Ken Hangauer Jr. has renamed the road "Kinser Alley."
"I don't want to end up there again," he said.
Kinser would like to return to Indianapolis, where he finished 14th this year in the 500.
"It went pretty good," Kinser recalled. "We were up to eighth and then I got into a late race accident. I hope for another chance next year. It was a great way to break up the monotony of every night dirt track racing.
"However, I just love racing Sprint Cars. The WOO gets bigger every year. The national television has helped. Sprint Car racing is popular now all over the U.S. I look forward to meeting the fans next Monday at Ransomville."
They can see him starting at 7 p.m. Fans with rainchecks from last year must bring them to gain admittance. Tickets remain for those without rainchecks.
Ransomville also will run its weekly show Friday at 7:15 p.m. Lancaster presents drag racing Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Tops & General Mills Night stock cars at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Speeds Sports & More hosts Racefest97 from noon-8 p.m. Friday at the Southgate Plaze in West Seneca. The Winston Cup cars of Ernie Irvan and Dale Jarrett plus local race cars will be displayed. Games, refreshments, music and other activity are planned. Call 677-2604 for information.