From Bill Wright
Knoxville, IA, — (August 12, 2011) — Donny Schatz of Fargo, North Dakota grabbed his fifth Knoxville Nationals title on Saturday night. The Tony Stewart Racing #15 was flawless after starting fifteenth in the 50-lap main event. The win paid Schatz $150,000, and was his mind-numbing tenth finish of either first or second in the last twelve years at the biggest event in sprint car racing. All have come with J&J Chassis and Ron Shaver Engines.
Before the field could get a lap in the books, 18 year old, Austin McCarl, hopped the turn one cushion and took a nasty ride. He was uninjured. Once the event went green, pole-sitter and high point man for the week, Sammy Swindell, led lap one. Outside row one starter, Brad Sweet, shot to the fore on the next go around and held the lead through four laps, when Davey Heskin came to a stop in turn four.
The restart saw Sweet leading Swindell, Jason Meyers, Dale Blaney and Daryn Pittman back to green. Swindell pressured Sweet and shot under him to lead lap six. Schatz was on the move from his starting spot inside row eight. He took fifth from Pittman on lap seven, and fourth from Blaney on the next circuit.
Schatz would cruise by Meyers for third before the red flag came out with fourteen laps down for Kerry Madsen, who got upside down on the backstretch. That set up the restart of the event, with Swindell leading Sweet, Schatz, Meyers and Pittman. The lead trio went three-wide for the lead when the race went back green. Schatz was able to sneak by the leaders to grab the point. A lap later, Sweet worked past Swindell for second. Pittman began to gain momentum as well, and snatched third from Swindell on lap 19, before capturing second from Sweet on lap 20.
The mandatory open red flag period came with 27 laps down. After teams were allowed to make changes to their cars, Schatz led Pittman, Swindell, Sweet and Meyers back to green. Shane Stewart restarted sixth after starting 17th, and other hard-chargers included Tim Shaffer, who was eighth after starting 19th, and Lance Dewease, who was up to ninth from 24th.
Pittman continued his good run and shot around Schatz in another three-wide battle for the lead. It was short-lived, however, as Schatz used the low side to jet back by and pull away. By lap 32, Stewart was by Meyers and Sweet to fourth. Meyers retired while running sixth shortly, thereafter.
Swindell would take second back from Pittman and begin his pursuit of the leader. Stewart would make the same charge he had made all week long, grabbing third from Pittman on lap 41, and second from Swindell on lap 48. He was gaining on the leader, but simply ran out of laps, as Schatz crossed the line as Nationals champion.
“We raced hard, and raced smart,” said Schatz in Victory Lane. “I had an awesome racecar to drive. This is an amazing group of guys. I was able to move all over the racetrack. We were just going to put some new tires on at the halfway point and keep going. It was good enough to win, and that’s all you can ask for.”
“This is a heck of a back-up engine,” said Schatz, who lost his primary on his qualifying night. “I felt a little bit awkward beforehand, but it felt awesome all night long.”
Stewart settled for second in Paul Silva’s #57 and earned $75,000. “I have to thank all my fans. I don’t know what to say. My car always seems to be coming on late in the race…I can’t even say that, because I felt I was competitive the whole 50 laps. I saw the white flag come out, and I thought they had to be kidding me. That 50 laps went so quick!”
Schatz was complimentary of Stewart’s run as well. “You know what is cooler than this? The kid in the #57 came from 17th to 2nd, not once, not twice, but three times. He’s a hell of a racer. I’m glad I’m standing in front of him tonight. Thank God it was only 50 (laps).”
“I was trying to conserve and make it,” said Swindell who earned $37,500 for third in the Big Game Treestands #1. “I just missed it (in turn three) and stayed parked there for an hour and let Shane by.”
Shaffer made a late run to fourth ahead of Pittman. Mark Dobmeier was sixth, and Brian Brown, Sweet, Dewease and Craig Dollansky rounded out the top ten.
In preliminary action, Bruce White led the 10-lap distance to win the E main. Jason Sides took the 12-lap D main, and Brown Maeschen won the 15-lap C.
Often one of the best races of the Nationals, the 22-lap B main saw plenty of drama. Stevie Smith led the four transfers to the A main by capturing the win. Kraig Kinser finished second, but lost a motor on the last lap. He had it changed for the A. Don Droud Jr. ran a strong third (from 15th), and Lance Dewease grabbed the fourth and final transfer from row five.
Two young drivers saw heartbreak in the event. Brady Bacon, who was named “Rookie of the Nationals” suffered a flat tire while running second in the late stages. Rager Phillips was running third taking the white flag but coasted across the finish line fourteenth with mechanical problems.
Jac Haudenschild’s night ended in C main hot laps when his rear axle broke and he flipped in turn two. Jonathan Allard and Brian Ellenberger flipped in the C main. B main flip victims were Cody Darrah, and Joey Moughan who was collected in the fray. No drivers were injured.
Tomorrow a champion will be crowned at the 51st Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals! The winner will be paid $150,000 out of the $1,000,000 purse! Don’t miss it! Tickets are available at the box office, online at www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com or by calling 641 842-5431!
51st Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals Results
E main (started), 10 laps, 2:38.6: 1. 96AU, Bruce White, Merrylands West, NSW, Aust. (2) 2. 19D, Donovan Peterson, Brookings, SD (1) 3. 22H, Randy Hannagan, Pittsboro, IN (8) 4. 7K, Robby Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, SD (7) 5. 68, Mike Houseman Jr., Des Moines, IA (3) 6. 2K, Kevin Ingle, Huron, SD (6) 7. 19, Bob Weuve, Newton, IA (5) 8. 7TAZ, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (4) DNS – 7AB, Billy Alley, Bennet, NE, 20PK, Ron Krysl, Atkinson, NE, 23x, Russel Borland, Kewaskum, WI
D main (started), 12 laps, 3:15.7: 1. 7s, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN (1) 2. D4, Danny Holtgraver, Pittsburgh, PA (3) 3. 44w, Austen Wheatley, Lake Stevens, WA (4) 4. 91x, Dusty Zomer, Sioux Falls, SD (12) 5. 33, Danny Lasoski, Dover, MO (8) 6. 02, Mike Reinke, Howards Grove, WI (5) 7. 04, Cap Henry, Bellevue, OH (13) 8. 1K, Chris Shirek, Thompson, ND (6) 9. Robby Wolfgang (19) 10. Randy Hannagan (27) 11. 69, Mike Moore, Des Moines, IA (7) 12. 19K, Todd King, Sheboygan Falls, WI (9) 13. 8, Kaley Gharst, Decatur, IL (15) 14. 45, Mark Johnson, Des Moines, IA (10) 15. Tasker Phillips (20) 16. Bruce White (14) 17. Donovan Peterson (16) 18. 9N, Wade Nygaard, Grand Forks, ND (11) 19. Mike Houseman Jr. (18) DQ – 4x, Toni Lutar, White Horse, BC, Can. (2, crossed 2nd – no scales) DNS – Kevin Ingle, Bob Weuve
C main (started), 15 laps, NT: 1. 1J, Bronson Maeschen, Pleasantville, IA (2) 2. 83JR, Tim Kaeding, San Jose, CA (4) / 3. 55x, Jason Solwold, Mount Vernon, WA (3) 4. 18, Tony Bruce Jr., Liberal, KS (1) 5. 17B, Bill Balog, Eau Claire, WI (7) 6. 5w, Lucas Wolfe, Mechanicsburg, PA (10) 7. 1s, Kevin Swindell, Charlotte, NC (11) 8. 63, Chad Kemenah, Findlay, OH (15) 9. 23w, Scott Winters, Butterfield, MN (18) 10. 22, Kenny Jacobs, Holmesville, OH (13) 11. Jason Sides (21) 12. 11c, Roger Crockett, Medford, OR (16) 13. 29, Bud Kaeding, Campbell, CA (9) 14. Austen Wheatley (22) 15. 1w, Chad Meyer, Sioux Falls, SD (8) 16. 6H, Danny Heskin, St. Michael, MN (19) 17. 71R, Ryan Anderson, Deloit, IA (5) 18. 2D, Bryan Dobesh, Sioux Falls, SD (6) 19. 20E, Brian Ellenberger, Butler, PA (17) 20. Danny Holtgraver (20) 21. 0, Jonathan Allard, Chico, CA (14) DNS – 6RX, Ryan Bunton, Morton, IL, 6M, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH.
B main (started), 22 laps, NT: 1. 1z, Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow, OK (3) 2. 6, Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN (2) 3. 47, Don Droud Jr., Lincoln, NE (15) 4. 30c, Lance Dewease, Fayetteville, PA (9) / 5. 12, Lynton Jeffrey, Prairie City, IA (8) 6. 39, Greg Hodnett, Thomasville, PA (14) 7. 4, Danny Smith, Danville, IN (16) 8. 89G, David Gravel, Watertown, CT (18) 9. 45x, Johnny Herrera, Albuquerque, NM (12) 10. 2B, Ben Gregg, Glendale, AZ (19) 11. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK (5) 12. 01, Wayne Johnson, Knoxville, IA (17) 13. Bronson Maeschen (21) 14. 10, Rager Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (6) 15. 1zz, Jessica Zemken, Sprakers, NY (20) 16. 59, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust,. (4) 17. 28, Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (13) 18. 7x, Dustin Selvage, Indianola, IA (10) 19. 35, Justin Henderson, Sioux Falls, SD (1) 20. Tim Kaeding (22) 21. 14x, Joey Moughan, Springfield, IL (7) 22. 91, Cody Darrah, Red Lion, PA (11)
A main (started), 50 laps, NT: 1. 15, Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND (13) 2. 57, Shane Stewart, Bixby, OK (17) 3. 1, Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN (1) 4. 83x, Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa, PA (19) 5. 27, Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK (5) 6. 13, Mark Dobmeier, Grand Forks, ND (7) 7. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO (6) 8. 9, Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, CA (2) 9. Lance Dewease (24) 10. 7, Craig Dollansky, Elk River, MN (18) 11. 41, Jason Johnson, Eunice, LA (20) 12. 83, Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN (16) 13. Stevie Smith (21) 14. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX (11) 15. 55, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA (14) 16. 11, Steve Kinser, Bloomington, IN (8) 17. Don Droud Jr. (23) 18. 56, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (10) 19. Kraig Kinser (22) 20. 2, Dale Blaney, Fowler, OH (3) 21. 51, Fred Rahmer, Salfordville, PA (9) 22. 14, Jason Meyers, Clovis, CA (4) 23. 92, Kerry Madsen, St. Marys, NSW, Aust. (15) 24. 17A, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA (12). Lap Leaders: S. Swindell 1, Sweet 2-5, S. Swindell 6-14, Schatz 15-27, Pittman 28, Schatz 29-50.