(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.”
Rolling off fifth, Schatz would jump to third on the start as Stevie Smith took off into the lead with Jonathan Allard setting into the runner up spot.
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.
Working into the mix after spending much of the first half riding fifth, Brian Brown would begin making strides with the pass for third on Stevie Smith just three laps prior to the mid race break.
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.
Taking his best finish at the Knoxville Nationals, Brian Brown crossed second with Craig Dollansky holding on the round out the podium.
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!