Winter Heat: Steve Kinser, ‘King of the Outlaws,’ reigns in Night 3


20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser may no longer be competing full-time, but he’s not about to slow down just yet.

The “King of the Outlaws” led the final 16 laps en route to A-Main victory Tuesday at Cocopah (Ariz.) Speedway in Night 3 of the five-night Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown.

Kinser and NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year Kyle Larson, making his final Winter Heat 2015 appearance, started the A-Main on the front row and battled for the lead in the opening laps before Larson took control at Lap 3.

But at the halfway point of the 30-lap feature, Larson suffered a right-rear tire failure and had to go to the work area for a replacement.

That gave the lead to Kinser, who held off Night 1 winner Paul McMahan in second, Brian Brown in third, Logan Schuchart in fourth, and son Kraig Kinser in fifth.

Larson came back to finish seventh, marking the end of a hit-and-miss stay in the desert that saw him finish 15th in Night 1 and then win in Night 2.

He won’t stick around for this Friday and Saturday’s events. Instead, he’ll be taking part in Rolex 24 testing for Chip Ganassi Racing at Daytona International Speedway.

Fellow NASCAR pilot Kasey Kahne had a rough outing on Tuesday, finishing 18th. He later tweeted that he was “slow as ___ tonight,”  leaving part of the post blank.

Steve Kinser’s appearance at Winter Heat is the opener for what’s expected to be a 2015 season filled with roughly 40 races according to his Tony Stewart Racing team:

Tuesday’s win was his first at Cocopah since 1991, when the 3/8-mile oval hosted its lone Outlaws event.

“I’d still like to be a little younger, I can tell you that, but I’m not,” Kinser said jokingly afterwards. “But I’m not going to complain about my career. It’s nice to get a win here.”

McMahan’s second Winter Heat podium finish gives him a 16-point edge in the championship over Joey Saldana, with Stevie Smith an additional three points behind in third.