A pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars and the “King of the Outlaws” will serve as marquee names for this week’s inaugural running of the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown in Arizona.
Hendrick Motorsports veteran Kasey Kahne, reigning Sprint Cup rookie of the year Kyle Larson, and World of Outlaws icon Steve Kinser will be among those racing at the Cocopah Speedway.
The five-night run begins tomorrow and Saturday, then resumes next Tuesday (Jan. 6), and then closes out next Friday and Saturday (Jan. 9-10).
“This is going to be a treat,” track director of operations Greg Burgess told the Yuma (Ariz.) Sun. “I mean, watching Kasey and Kyle in a sprint car…That is going to be special. That’s where they got their start; it’s what they love to do. And they are going up against the best of the best in Steve Kinser, not to mention a bunch of other drivers who are also top tier talent.”
Due to testing commitments with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Rolex 24 program at Daytona International Speedway, Larson will only be competing on three of the five days (tomorrow, Saturday, and next Tuesday). He’ll be racing for the sprint car squad he co-owns, Larson Marks Racing, with this little Plan B Sales/Target-backed beauty:
Not to be outdone is Kahne, who will carry the Great Clips colors into the desert for his own Kasey Kahne Racing outfit:
Then there’s Steve Kinser, who finished full-time driving last season but will continue on a part-time schedule in 2015 for Tony Stewart Racing:
Speaking of Stewart, Burgess says that the three-time NASCAR champion is expected to be in attendance for the event. According to Burgess, Stewart first raised the possibility of a winter series at Cocopah to him back in the spring of 2013.
Stewart initially planned to be part of Winter Heat as a driver but that was before his involvement in the Aug. 9 sprint car accident in New York State that killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr.
“We are not expecting to see Tony in a sprint car,” Burgess notes. “Yes, it’s an unfortunate circumstance, but everyone understands and respects Tony’s position, and we are moving forward with the show he wanted to see happen.
“This was his idea, and we are going to do our best to make it an event everyone will remember and can’t wait to get back to in 2016.”
Other top sprint car drivers set to race this week at Cocopah include Turkey Night Grand Prix winner Christopher Bell, reigning USAC midget series champ Rico Abreu, former Outlaws champ Danny Lasoski, and more.