Hello race fans and welcome to The Pit Stop.
The 52nd Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals have been put to rest and Donny Schatz earned his sixth nationals title in the last seven years. It looked like he was running away with the headliner on Saturday night but “Blackjack” Brian Brown made the last 10 laps or so very interesting as he chipped away at the lead Schatz had built up the previous 14 laps. Brown made one last bonsai passing attempt at Schatz on the last two turns of the last lap and the two raced to the finish line with everyone in the house standing to see how they would have the closest finish in the history of the Knoxville Nationals. Schatz would beat Brown for the $150,000 payday and allow everyone to wonder if Brown could have passed Schatz if the finish line was just 20 or 30 feet farther than what it was.
“I was catching him,” said Brown. “But I’m not sure what I would have done once I caught him.”
Wow what a finish. It was the perfect way to finish up Iowa Speed Week.
Wednesday night’s racing action was delayed a couple hours or so due to the rains that went through around 5 p.m. The track personnel did an excellent job of getting the track into racing condition and the liquid sunshine made for a very fast track for the night of action. Seventeen racers had a fast lap in qualifying around the big half-mile under 15 seconds with Joey Saldana setting quick time on the night at 14.715 seconds. Kyle “Young Money” Larson would win the A Main on Wednesday night which would propel him to winning the Nationals Rookie of The Year title and clinch the Jesse Hockett “Mr Sprint Car” title for Iowa Speed Week.
Thursday night action would see Ian Madsen of Australia set quick time at 15.491 seconds with Jason Meyers taking the win in the A Main. Friday night action included the new format with drivers having the option of starting their points over and try to qualify for the Saturday night A Main through Friday action. Justin Henderson got the victory in the Friday night main event but the real winner on the night was Dale Blaney who had engine problems on his qualifying night but he finished in the top four in the A Main on Friday night which qualified him for the A Main on Saturday night so I am sure he liked the new format. Schatz was victorious in the Speed Sport World Challenge and served notice to the rest of the field that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday night.
Saturday night action would see Bill Rose from Illinois win the E Main, Tyler Walker of California would win the D Main, Jac “The Wild Child” Haudenschild of Ohio took the checkers in the C Main, Marc Dobmeier of North Dakota won the B Main and Schatz took the top honors of the night by winning the A Main. Brown finished a close second to Schatz with “The Crowd Pleaser” Craig Dollansky finishing in third place for the fourth time in his career. Sammy Swindell finished in fifth place in the B Main and came up one spot short of qualifying for the A Main.
“The King of The Outlaws,” Steve Kinser, finished in 10th place in the B Main which ended his streak of qualifying for the Saturday night A Main at 35 years-in-a-row. He had been in the A Main on Saturday night every year since 1977. It was the first time since 1975 that the A Main did not have Swindell or Kinser in it. Swindell came into the Nationals on a roll after winning the Kings Royal Championship race at The Eldora Speedway to kick off the month-of-money.
The biggest news out of the Nationals was the announcement that STP would become the title sponsor of The World of Outlaws beginning in 2013.
Logan Schuchart of Pennsylvania competed in his first Knoxville Nationals. Schuchart is the grandson of 1990 Knoxville Nationals winner, Bobby Allen, and he had the Allen trademark shark on his Sprint Car.
The Saturday night A Main had 24 competitors from 11 different states and Australia. Saturday night’s total purse was $670,250 with the A Main paying out $553,500 itself. Goodyear brought 1,775 tires to the Nationals and they had a special design on tires for Knoxville with “Support Our Troops” stamped on the sidewall.
The 52nd running of The Goodyear Knoxville Nationals will be etched in my mind as probably the best finish in the 20 years I have been attending them and I am counting down the days until the 2013 version of the Nationals. I was pleased to meet so many new people involved with Sprint Car racing. Thanks to the drivers, crew members and Knoxville Raceway crew for putting on a great show once again.
The Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa is taking this week off from racing and they are scheduled to be back in action next Wednesday night. Eddyville Raceway Park has a big weekend of racing on tap with their World Fuel Altered Nationals. Fuel Altereds are nitro-methane machines that put on a show like no other drag cars can match in my opinion. They have been described as Sprint Cars on steroids and if you can make it to this event at ERP, you will not be disappointed. Friday night is a test and tune night and the Fuel Altereds will have their first qualifying session as well. Saturday will have final qualifying and eliminations for the Fuel Altereds as well as the Eddyville Stick Shifters, Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman, Junior Dragsters, Super Street, Trophy Car and Nostalgia classes. Sunday action will have all of their regular classes as well as Super Street, Modified and Modified Jr. Fuel Altereds will be coming in from several states and this is always a great show.
The Bloomfield Speedway is back in action Saturday night with it being Doc 360 and Diet Doc 360 night. The Mississippi Valley Vintage Race Car Association will have Vintage Caged Sprint Cars at the track. The Knoxville Raceway does not have any races scheduled this weekend.
I better wrap it up for this week. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you at the track. Gone racin’.
Courier racing columnist Scott Watson can be reached at email@example.com.
Hello race fans and welcome to The Pit Stop.
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