|Dates: Wednesday-Saturday, August 9-12, 2017
Series: World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series
Event: 57th annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals
Location: Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway
Winners: Wednesday – Kyle Larson of Paul Silva Motorsports
Thursday –David Gravel of CJB Motorsports
Friday – Jason Johnson of Johnson/Marshall Racing
Saturday – Donny Schatz of Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing
TSR Results: Wednesday – Schatz: Started 6th, Finished 2nd/Running, completed 25 of 25 laps
Christopher Bell: Started 9th, Finished 9th/Running, completed 25 of 25 laps
Saturday – Schatz: Started 2nd, Finished 1st/Running, completed 50 of 50 laps
Bell: Started 6th in B-Main, Finished 8th in B/Running, completed 22 of 22 laps
TSR Points: Donny Schatz – (1st with 7,675 points, 82 ahead of second-place Brad Sweet)
The historic pace at the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals continued Saturday night for Tony Stewart-Curb/Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz. The eight-time and reigning World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion led the final 27 laps of the 50-lap finale of the 57th annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals to earn his 10th Nationals victory.
Schatz started second in the TSR No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J and led the field to the green on lap 23 after polesitter David Gravel brought out a caution. Schatz withstood challenges from both Kerry Madsen and Kyle Larson to pick up his 26th career triumph at the famed half-mile dirt oval in Central Iowa and continued his remarkable run on Sprint car racing’s biggest stage, where he’s finished first or second 16 of the past 18 years.
“Winning the Knoxville Nationals never gets old and never gets any easier,” Schatz said. “I may get a lot of the credit, but this Arctic Cat/Ford Performance race team is incredible and they deserve every bit as much. Nobody realizes the pressure that is on this team. They have to make the right decisions every time. With as many races as we have won, the pressure just keeps building and building because, if you don’t win, you are under a lot of scrutiny and we don’t want to be in that position. We want to win races. We want to be competitive and be at the forefront of this sport. Tony Stewart has assembled and incredible team here. We are celebrating 10 years together and tonight we are going to celebrate another incredible week here at the Knoxville Nationals.”
Schatz started on the front row for the sixth time in his career at the Nationals following an impressive qualifying-night performance Wednesday. He qualified fourth in the field of 48 competitors and charged from eighth to win the fourth heat race to transfer into the 25-lap preliminary feature. He started sixth in the A-Main and quickly began his charge forward. He was up to third on lap five and took second from Austin McCarl on lap 13. Polesitter Larson was setting a strong pace up front, but Schatz was able to close the gap as the two worked through lapped traffic. Larson didn’t make any mistakes during the final portion of the race and scored the win ahead of Schatz. The results of the evening earned Schatz 492 points, the most by any driver.
Following Thursday’s qualifying program, Schatz ranked second overall and was locked into Saturday’sA-Main finale.
When Saturday’s A-Main went green, Gravel and Schatz raced side by side into turn one. Gravel dove low and pulled out to a small lead coming out of turn two and, when Gravel went high in turns three and four, Schatz made a run for the lead with a low move in turns three and four. Gravel had enough momentum to maintain the top spot and the two settled in for the early portion of the race. Once Gravel reached traffic, Schatz was able to close in and make a run at the top spot. He tried a slide job in turns three and four and later briefly held the lead down the backstretch on lap 16, but Gravel was able to surge back in front and hold the top spot until his engine expired on lap 22.
“These young guys keep getting better, and that Kyle Larson is pretty awesome,” Schatz said. “Early in the race, David set a really torrid pace and he was right up on the top. There were some pretty big holes up there and I didn’t even realize how big they were until we got slowed down on one of those yellows when I saw them and said to myself I may want to be careful up here. Once we got going, I felt really good, but you have to get yourself to the end of the race. You have to make sure when you get into traffic that you are in a good spot, that you are in the right place, and I did that for most of the race. We came down to that last 12-lap run there and I thought we might catch traffic at the end and we caught them. I got to a car that was just going for it and got myself in a couple of bad spots, but we got there. I know Kyle was coming and he had to do whatever I wasn’t and, for two laps, I was all over the place. That’s what racing is. It’s what we strive for and, if I was running second, that’s what I would have been hoping for. It worked out. We got the win and it feels good.”
• This was the 25th Knoxville Nationals for Schatz, who made his debut in 1993 as an 18-year-old. In his debut, he qualified 63rd and finished sixth in the non-qualifiers race.
• After qualifying fourth in Wednesday’s preliminary program, Schatz raced from eighth to win his seventh career qualifying-night heat race.
• His runner-up finish Wednesday was his seventh second-place finish and third in a row in Knoxville Nationals qualifying programs.
• Saturday’s triumph was number 10 for Schatz and the 11th Knoxville Nationals A-Main win for car owner Tony Stewart. Schatz has won eight driving for TSR and the organization earned three Nationals triumphs with Danny Lasoski (2001, 2003, and 2004).
• By leading 27 laps Saturday, Schatz surpassed Steve Kinser as the all-time lap leader in the Nationals. Schatz now has led 320 laps, 19 more than Kinser. Schatz also became the first driver in Nationals history to lead laps in 14 A-Mains.
• Schatz trails only Kinser (12) for most Nationals A-Main wins.
• Schatz ranks 10th all-time with 26 career wins at Knoxville Raceway.
• He now has 245 career WoO A-Features wins.
• Schatz has career earnings of $2.17 million in his 25 Knoxville Nationals appearances.
The Nationals only provided WoO teams with participation points since the event follows a format that differs from the regular WoO program. Schatz continues to the lead the 2017 WoO championship standings and has a 82-point advantage over Brad Sweet.
With the Nationals behind them, Schatz and the TSR team will prepare for the Outlaws’ annual August run through North Dakota before heading west for the next month. The North Dakota native will compete on his home soil three nights starting Friday at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks beforeSaturday’s return to Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo. The Fargo event was originally scheduled for June but was washed out and rescheduled for this weekend. The finale of the weekend will be held at Nodak Speedway in Schatz’s hometown of Minot.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!
After a dominating win on Wednesday night at the Knoxville Nationals, Kyle Larson faced a dilemma. He had qualified for the prestigious A-main finals of one of the premiere dirt races in the world. The problem was the race was set for Saturday night, and his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series forbids him from racing on dirt the day before he has to drive the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, be it qualifying, practice or the race.
On Thursday, he appeared with Ganassi at an event in downtown Detroit unveiling the Camaro ZL1 as Chevrolet’s entry in next year’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. On the drive to the airport afterward, Larson tried to talk Ganassi into allowing an exception. The team owner voiced his concerns—the contract language exists to make sure Larson is fresh and to give the team time to find a replacement if he gets injured.
With Larson and other team officials pleading Larson’s case, Ganassi ultimately relented, and now Larson will race in the event in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday to try to put an exclamation point at the end of what he calls his favorite week of racing of the year. He finished fifth in the event last year. “I’m thankful for Chip to even allow me to do what I get to do right now,” Larson says. “It’s especially nice that he’s making an exception for Saturday night.”
Larson expects to fly to Iowa after his responsibilities at Michigan International Speedway end on Saturday afternoon. He will race at night and fly back to Michigan after that. He doesn’t have to be anywhere at MIS until 11:30 Sunday morning. “I’ll still be able to get plenty of sleep and be ready,” he said.
Larson has won two races in a row at Michigan.
“Young Money” could be flying back to Michigan Saturday night $150,000.00 richer, if he wins the feature at Knoxville!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!
(WOMR file photo)
Stop me if you have heard this one before, Donny Schatz won the Knoxville Nationals Saturday night. Schatz has now won this, the biggest payday in the sprint car world, $150,000.00, six out of the last seven years! That is a total purse for that time frame of $900,000.00! You might have heard of Schatz’s car owner, Tony Stewart, yes, that Tony Stewart!
Asked if the sixth time felt as good as the first time, Schatz exhaustingly replied, “I think it was the hardest one to win.” Pausing for a moment, the six time Nationals Champion continued, “Man I burned the tires off of it. I just couldn’t get myself feeling very good and I knew someone would be coming those last few laps. It was everything I could do to keep it going forward. Last night was a lot of fun, tonight was a lot harder but it feels great.”
Working the high line of the Knoxville Raceway, the top three began to motor away as the battle on the track shaped up for seventh as Kraig Kinser began to work on Joey Saldana. Holding the spot on the high side, Kinser would finally make the move a few laps later.
Back to the front of the field, Schatz would begin to make his march to the front. Taking the runner up spot off the bottom of turn four on lap six, the STP No. 15 would drop Jonathan Allard to third quickly followed by the Big Game Tree Stands No. 7 of Craig Dollansky who made the pass for the show position on lap eight.
Working into slower traffic at the tenth round, Stevie Smith would begin to feel the pressure form Schatz. Pulling even with Smith on the low line with thirty-nine laps to go, the “Black Bandit” would hold on to the top spot. With slower traffic looming, Schatz would seize his opportunity the following lap, pulling off the slide job on Smith exiting turn four.
Less than five laps from the mid-way pit stop, Dollansky would continue to march his way back to the front of the field. Falling back to fourth after starting outside the front row, “The Crowd Pleaser” would utilize the slide job to take the runner up spot.
Racing amongst the back markers, the caution would finally wave as the midway break gave crews 5 min. to make any changes necessary.
Back to green, Donny Schatz would quickly stretch his lead to over 2.5 seconds. Moving into the final twenty laps, Schatz would lead with Dollansky, Brown, and Meyers with Smith making up the top five.
With the tail of the field approaching, the caution would bring clean track to the leaders as the No. 1k of Kyle Larsonstopped with a flat on lap thirty-four. Larson would rejoin the race despite not changing a broken right rear shock.
Back on the hammer, Craig Dollansky would make a bid for the lead. Diving to the berm, Dollansky’s run would stall leaving the door wide open for Brian Brown. Taking a huge run to the bottom groove entering turn three, the Casey’s General Store No.21 would exit turn four with the runner up spot and only thirteen laps to run.
Slashing his disadvantage from 1.5 seconds to only sixth-tenths the Grain Valley, Missouri driver would bring the fans to their feet; pulling to the back bumper of the TSR No. 15 with only ten laps on the scoreboard.
Slipping up slightly in turn two, Brown would see his disadvantage jump back to over 1.5 seconds as both drivers neither lost nor gain on lap nine with Schatz and Brown both slamming the cushion on the exit of turn two.
Back on the heels of traffic with seven laps to run, Donny Schatz would have his hands full with Brian Brown again closing in. Working top to bottom on the Knoxville Raceway, the FVP No. 21 was back in the hunt as the leaders raced to five to go.
Held up by Cody Darrah with three laps remaining, Schatz would be forced out of the groove causing the four time World of Outlaws Championship to fry the tires; allowing Brown to close within two car lengths as the green flag waved to signify the final two laps.
Jumping the cushion, the chance at victory looked to be gone for Brown as Donny Schatz raced under the white flag but as Brown exited turn two for the final time the run was on for the race lead. Into the final two turns, Brown shot high as Schatz dove low. Reeling in Schatz, Brown would dive off the top for the pass at the line but as the checkered flag flew it was Donny Schatz taking his sixth Goodyear Knoxville Nationals Championship by 0.117 seconds.
Charging into the top five on lap twenty-three, Kraig Kinser would climb from ninth to fourth with Jason Meyers settling for fifth. Shane Stewart would mount another impressive Knoxville charge coming from thirteenth to sixth with Stevie Smithcrossing the line seventh. Lance Dewease was eighth followed by Tim Kaeding with Davey Heskin, who raced into the show from the B-Main, charging from twenty-second to round out the top ten.
Knoxville locals Mark Dobmeier and Heskin were the local stars of the B main event, taking first and second. A hard battle was fought between third place, Brian Paulus, fourth place and final transfer, Jason Sides, and Sammy Swindellwho missed the main event. Swindell and Steve Kinser, who finished tenth in the B main failed to make the championship event. It was the first time without either in the event since 1975. Kinser had qualified for 34 straight.
Jac Haudenschild won the C main, Tyler Walker took the D main and Bill Rose claimed the E main. Dusty Zomer took a hard ride in the B main before a lap could be completed. He was uninjured. Kyle Larson, who finished 16th in the main event, was named Rookie of the Nationals. Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Rudeen Racing won “Best Appearing Car”, while Bryan Sebetto’s crew was named “Best Dressed”.
52nd Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals Results
E main (started), 10 laps, 2:38.6: 1. 6, Bill Rose, Plainfield, IL (2); 2. 2L, Ed Lynch Jr., Apollo, PA (3); 3. 7c, Critter Malone, Speedway, IN (4); 4. 7TAZ, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (7); 5. 66, Geoff Dodge, Colorado Springs, CO (9); / 6. 10, Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (8); 7. 74x, Josh Hodges, Tijeras, NM (6); 8. 20PK, Ron Krysl, Atkinson, NE (1); 9. 13v, Seth Brahmer, Wisner, NE (5) DNS – 2s, Lee Sowell, Nesbit, MS, 13v, Seth Brahmer, Wisner, NE, 81,Austin Johnson, Shakopee, MN, 02, Mike Reinke, Howards Grove, WI, 45x, Johnny Herrera, Albuquerque, NM
D main (started), 12 laps, NT: 1. 35, Tyler Walker, Hermosa Beach, CA (2); 2. 1s, Logan Schuchart, Hanover, PA (3); 3. 8, Casey Mack, East Grand Forks, MN (1); 4. 17A, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA (4); / 5. 6x, Kaley Gharst, Decatur, IL (8); 6. 2x, Dustin Morgan, Owasso, OK (5); 7. 4D, Danny Smith, Chillicothe, OH (7); 8. 88, Jarrod Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA (6); 9. 47AU, Trevor Reynolds, Perth, WA, Aust. (11); 10. Geoff Dodge (22); 11. 2K, Kevin Ingle, Huron, SD (10); 12. 40, Caleb Helms, Findlay, OH (14); 13. Ed Lynch Jr. (21); 14. 1T, Chris Shirek, Thompson, ND (12); 15. 75,Glen Saville, Razorback, NSW, Aust. (15); 16. Bill Rose (18); 17. 20, AJ Moeller, Rockwell City, IA (9); 18. 71B, Robert Bell, Colfax, IA (13); 19. Tasker Phillips (23); 20. Critter Malone (20); 21. 1m, Jim Moughan Jr., Springfield, IL (19); 22. 24H, Bryan Sebetto, Fremont, OH (16); 23. 71AU, Domain Ramsay, Geelong, VIC, Aust. (17); DNS – 12P, TJ Peterson, Des Moines, IA, 51, Fred Rahmer, Salfordville, PA
C main (started), 15 laps, NT: 1. 59, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (4); 2. 1z, Danny Lasoski, Dover, MO (1); 3. 49,Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, CA (9); 4. 55xm, James McFadden, Brisbane, QLD, Aust. (6); / 5. 35AU, Jamie Veal, Warrnambool, VIC, Aust. (2); 6. 53D, Jack Dover, Springfield, NE (11); 7. 54, Cap Henry, Bellevue, OH (3); 8. 1x,Randy Hannagan, Pittsboro, IN (15); 9. W20, Greg Wilson, Benton Ridge, OH (5); 10. 7K, Jeff Swindell, Bartlett, TN (8); 11. Tyler Walker (19); 12. 47, Don Droud Jr., Lincoln, NE (18); 13. Logan Schuchart (22); 14. 49J, Josh Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA (20); 15. 18, Tony Bruce Jr., Owasso, OK (12); 16. 55x, Trey Starks, Puyallup, WA (17); 17. 12,Lynton Jeffrey, Prairie City, IA (16); 18. Austin McCarl (23); 19. Casey Mack (21); 20. 26, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX (7); 21. 17M, Joey Moughan, Springfield, NE (10); 22. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK (13); 23. 6R, Ryan Bunton, Morton, IL (14); DNS – 9P, Rager Phillips, Pleasantville, IA
B main (started), 22 laps, 6:26.8: 1. 13, Mark Dobmeier, Grand Forks, ND (2); 2. 56, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (1); 3. 28, Brian Paulus, Mooresville, IN (4); 4. 7s, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN (10); / 5. 1, Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN (6); 6. 83, Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa, PA (7); 7. 41, Jason Johnson, Eunice, LA (5); 8. 71, Kevin Swindell, Germantown, TN (18); 9. 29, Kerry Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (11); 10. 11, Steve Kinser, Bloomington, IN (15); 11. 96, Bronson Maeschen, Pleasantville, IA (17); 12. 98, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (8); 13. 63, Chad Kemenah, Findlay, OH (12); 14. 24, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA (13); 15. 77x, Wayne Johnson, Knoxville, IA (19); 16. James McFadden (24); 17. Danny Lasoski (22); 18. 23w, Scott Winters, Butterfield, MN (20); 19. D4, Danny Holtgraver, Pittsburgh, PA (16); 20. 39, Greg Hodnett, Thomasville, PA (3); 21. Brad Sweet (23); 22. 7x, Dustin Selvage, Indianola, IA (9); 23. Jac Haudenschild (21); 24. 91, Dusty Zomer, Sioux Falls, SD (14);
52nd Annual Knoxville Nationals Championship (started), 50 laps, NT: 1. 15, Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND (5); 2. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO (4); 3. 7, Craig Dollansky, Elk River, MN (2); 4. 11K, Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN (9); 5. 21m,Jason Meyers, Clovis, CA (7); 6. 57, Shane Stewart, Bixby, OK (13); 7. 19, Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow, OK (1); 8. 30c,Lance Dewease, Fayetteville, PA (15); 9. 83JR, Tim Kaeding, San Jose, CA (8); 10. Davey Heskin (22); 11. 9, Joey Saldana, Bloomington, IN (6); 12. Mark Dobmeier (21); 13. 0, Jonathan Allard, Chico, CA (3); 14. 82, Justin Henderson, Tea, SD (17); 15. 27, Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK (14); 16. 1K, Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA (12); 17. 2, Dale Blaney, Hartford, OH (19); 18. 55, Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (11); 19. 5w, Lucas Wolfe, Mechanicsburg, PA (10); 20.Jason Sides (24); 21. 4, Cody Darrah, Red Lion, PA (20); 22. 89G, David Gravel, Watertown, CT (18); 23. 13x, Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN (16); 24. Brian Paulus (23). Lap Leaders: S. Smith 1-13, Schatz 14-50. Hard-charger: Heskin. (knoxville.com)
If you want to see the best sprint car racing in the nation, then you owe it to yourself to head back to Knoxville, Iowa, in the second week in August for this event. I have had the pleasure of seeing The Knoxville Nationals six times in the last ten years, I will attest to the fact that this event is the premiere sprint car racing event each and every year!
The event is limited to 120 cars, and they get that car count every single year. It is the best of the best sprint car racers in the nation that make up this event!
With Schatz’s latest Knoxville Nationals victory, he is well on his way to getting his “gold on the ceiling”!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!