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Stewart Wins Opening Night Feature During the 2016 Knoxville Nationals

Shane Stewart. (T.J. Buffenbarger Photo)

Shane Stewart. (T.J. Buffenbarger Photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

KNOXVILLE, Iowa – (August 10, 2016) – Shane Stewart started off his quest to win the biggest event in sprint car racing by winning the Brandt Professional Agriculture Qualifying Night Wednesday during the 56th Annual 5-Hour Energy Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores at Knoxville Raceway.

Stewart took the lead from Jeff Swindell and held off nine time Knoxville Nationals champion Donny Schatz through two restarts, exchanging the lead back and forth before pulling away at the end for the victory.

“When (Schatz) got by me he just slid up a little bit trying to cover his line and I was able to get turned down underneath him,” said Stewart. “The race track has actually been really good this whole year. Even when we came here in the Outlaw races they were good. You could move around, that’s bene nice. They’ve been doing a good job with the race track.”

Wayne Johnson and Jeff Swindell started on the front row for the 25-lap main event. Jeff Swindell led the field through turns one and two before Johnson asserted himself to the inside into turn three with Jeff Swindell holding off the challenge while Stewart moved into third. Stewart then aggressively slid to the inside of Jeff Swindell through turns one and two to take over second.

Behind the top three Dusty Zomer and Chad Kemenah traded the fourth position before Kemenah took over the spot on lap three. Schatz followed Kemenah through to take over fourth and disposed of Kemenah for third on lap four.

By lap eight Stewart had closed in on Jeff Swindell and challenged for the lead in turn one, but could not make the pass. Two laps later Stewart slid passed Jeff Swindell for the lead in turn two. Stewart pulled away while Schatz closed in on Jeff Swindell for second, taking the position using the bottom in turns three and four on lap 11.

At the mid-way point of the race Stewart began to overtake slower cars as Schatz closed when the caution flag appeared when Lynton Jeffrey lost a left rear wheel in turn two and got into the wall. Johnny Herrera hit the loose wheel, but remained under power. Jeffrey’s car suffered too much damage to continue.

During the restart Stewart dove to the bottom in turn one and slid up to the cushion as Schatz crossed. Schatz took the lead briefly in turn three, but Stewart countered Schatz’s move to retake the lead. Stewart eventually got a good run to open up some distance between himself and Schatz when the caution flag appeared on lap 17 for Herrera slowing on the backstretch.

Stewart led the field down slowly for the restart and pulled away from Schatz on the restart as Kemenah moved into third with Daryn Pittman following Kemenah into fourth.

Stewart’s lead quickly disappeared as Schatz closed the gap, but Stewart used the top of turns three and four to pull away. With two laps to go Stewart built up a two car length lead. Stewart continued to pull away through the final laps for the victory over Schatz, Kemenah, Pittman, and Jamie Veal.

For Stewart victory put an end to what he feels is the most stressful laps of the season during qualifying and the heat race during the preliminary nights at Knoxville.

“It’s the most nerve racking 12 laps of the whole season,” said Stewart. “The thing is you have to pressure on yourself to make two perfect laps and then you have to concentrate on getting through the heat race which in today’s time is pretty tough. The track wasn’t really that wide during the heat races and you saw there were a lot of good cars that didn’t make it out of the heats. Honestly, you can give a big sigh of relief after the heat races are over, whether you make it or not through there or not because then you can just concentrate on racing. “

Daryn Pittman was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 14.971 seconds at an average speed of 121.696 MPH. Chad Kemenah, Paige Polyak, Rico Abreu, Dusty Zomer, and Greg Hodnett won heat race events. Josh Baughman won the C-Main while Sammy Swindell won the B-Main event.

56th Annual 5-Hour Energy Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores
Brandt Professional Agriculture Qualifying Night
Knoxville Raceway
Knoxville, IA
Wednesday August 10, 2016

Qualifications: 1. 9 – Daryn Pittman, 14.791; 2. 1 – Sammy Swindell, 14.794; 3. 18 – Ian Madsen, 14.887; 4. 71 – Jamie Veal, 14.995; 5. 70 – Danny Holtgraver, 15.013; 6. 12 – Lynton Jeffrey, 15.048; 7. 21 – Brian Brown, 15.061; 8. 2KS – Craig Dollansky, 15.085; 9. 15 – Donny Schatz, 15.090; 10. 20 – A.J. Moeller, 15.137; 11. 10H – Chad Kemenah, 15.138; 12. 2$ – Shane Stewart, 15.143; 13. 49J – Josh Schhneiderman, 15.153; 14. 82 – Dusty Zomer, 15.177; 15. 28 – Jonathan Cornell, 15.188; 16. 47 – Jeff Swindell, 15.194;
17. 7S – Jason Sides, 15.220; 18. 2C – Wayne Johnson, 15.230; 19. 7 – Paul McMahan, 15.230; 20. 10 – Dakota Hendrickson, 15.234; 21. 84 – Scott Bogucki, 15.238; 22. 29 – Danny Dietrich, 15.243; 23. O9 – Matt Juhl, 15.248; 24. 55W – Logan Wagner, 15.259; 25. 17A – Austin McCarl, 15.263; 26. 7W – Tasker Phillips, 15.267; 27. 93 – Sheldon Haudenschild, 15.287; 28. 26 – Willie Croft, 15.299; 29. 68 – Chase Johnson, 15.303; 30. 2M – Matt Moro, 15.310; 31. 95 – Matt Covington, 15.331; 32. 1S – Logan Schuchart, 15.358; 33. 24 – Rico Abreu, 15.361; 34. 3G – Brandon Wimmer, 15.363; 35. 56N – Davey Heskin, 15.373; 36. 12H – Daniel Harding, 15.415; 37. 19P – Paige Polyak, 15.415; 38. 18W – Colby Copeland, 15.442; 39. 45X – Johnny Herrera, 15.512; 40. 27 – Greg Hodnett, 15.519; 41. 75 – Glen Saville, 15.524; 42. 17 – Josh Baughman, 15.615; 43. 1X – Chad Trout, 15.650; 44. 97 – Dean Jacobs, 15.719; 45. 11N – Randy Hannagan, 15.808; 46. O2 – Mike Reinke, 15.837; 47. 4S – Danny Smith, 15.892.

Heat Race #1 (10 Laps): 1. 10H – Chad Kemenah, 2. 12H – Daniel Harding, 3. 47 – Jeff Swindell, 4. 9 – Daryn Pittman, 5. 84 – Scott Bogucki, 6. 12 – Lynton Jeffrey, 7. 7W – Tasker Phillips, 8. 75 – Glen Saville, 9. 95 – Matt Covington, 10. 02 – Mike Reinke. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

Heat Race #2 (10 Laps): 1. 19P – Paige Polyak, 2. 1S – Logan Schuchart, 3. 2 – Shane Stewart, 4. 29 – Danny Dietrich, 5. 93 – Sheldon Haudenschild, 6. 1 – Sammy Swindell, 7. 7S – Jason Sides, 8. 21 – Brian Brown, 9. 17 – Josh Baughman, 10. 4 – Danny Smith. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

Heat Race #3 (10 Laps): 1. 24 – Rico Abreu, 2. 18W – Colby Copeland, 3. O9 – Matt Juhl, 4. 2C – Wayne Johnson, 5. 2KS – Craig Dollansky, 6. 26 – Willie Croft, 7. 49J – Josh Schneiderman, 8. 18 – Ian Madsen, 9. 1X – Chad Trout. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

Heat Race #4 (10 Laps): 1. 82 – Dusty Zomer, 2. 45X – Johnny Herrera, 3. 15 – Donny Schatz, 4. 71 – Jamie Veal, 5. 7 – Paul McMahan, 6. 3G – Brandon Wimmer, 7. 68 – Chase Johnson, 8. 55W – Logan Wagner, 9. 97 – Dean Jacobs. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

Heat Race #5 (10 Laps): 1. 27 – Greg Hodnett, 2. 56 – Davey Heskin, 3. 17A – Austin McCarl, 4. 10 – Dakota Hendrickson, 5. 70 – Danny Holtgraver, 6. 2M – Matt Moro, 7. 28 – Jonathan Cornell, 8. 20 – A.J. Moeller, 9. 11N – Randy Hannagan. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

C-Main (8 Laps): 1. 17 – Josh Baughman, 2. 11N – Randy Hannagan, 3. 1X – Chad Trout, 4. 4S – Danny Smith, 5. 02 – Mike Reinke, 6. 97 – Dean Jacobs. DNS: 95 – Matt Covington. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

B-Main (12 Laps): 1. 1 – Sammy Swindell, 2. 18 – Ian Madsen, 3. 12 – Lynton Jeffrey, 4. 2KS – Craig Dollansky, 5. 21 – Brian Brown, 6. 7S – Jason Sides, 7. 7 – Paul McMahan, 8. 70 – Danny Holtgraver, 9. 49J – Josh Schneiderman, 10. 93 – Sheldon Haudenschild, 11. 7W – Tasker Phillips, 12.
84 – Scott Bogucki, 13. 29 – Jonathan Cornell, 14. 3G – Brandon Wimmer, 15. 17 – Josh Baughman, 16. 20 – A.J. Moeller, 17. 26 – Willie Croft, 18. 68 – Chase Johnson, 19. 11N – Randy Hannagan, 20. 55W – Logan Wagner, 21. 4S – Danny Smith, 22. 75 – Glen Saville, 23. 1X – Chad Trout, 24. 2M – Matt Moro. (First four finishers transferred to the A-Main)

A-Main (25-Laps): 1. 2S – Shane Stewart, 2. 15 – Donny Schatz, 3. 10H – Chad Kemenah, 4. 9 – Daryn Pittman, 5. 71 – Jamie Veal, 6. 27 – Greg Hodnett, 7. 47 – Jeff Swindell, 8. 2C – Wayne Johnson, 9. 24 – Rico Abreu, 10. 82 – Dusty Zomer, 11. 2KS – Craig Dollansky, 12. 29 – Danny Dietrich, 13. 1 – Sammy Swindell, 14. 18 – Ian Madsen, 15. 09 – Matt Juhl, 16. 1S – Logan Schuchart, 17. 17A – Austin McCarl, 18. 12H – Daniel Harding, 19. 10 – Dakota Hendrickson, 20. 56N – Davey Heskin, 21. 18W – Colby Copeland, 22. 19P – Paige Polyak, 23. 45X – Johnny Herrera, 24. 12 – Lynton Jeffrey.

Lap Leaders: Jeff Swindell 1-9, Stewart 10-25