By T.J. Buffenbarger
(August 9, 2019) — After a night of “Hard Knox” Friday at the 2019 NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores here are some of the takeaways following that program and leading into Saturday’s finale.
• The key moment on Saturday happened during time trials when Kerry Madsen was able to rerun his qualifying effort after interference on his first effort. Madsen’s first effort would have mired him mid-pack in qualifying. Madsen’s second attempt landed his quick time in his flight and set him up to take advantage of his great restart ability, staying up front the rest of the night. Madsen was untouchable on restarts all night on Friday. It will be interesting to see how Madsen performs on restarts in dirty air during Saturday’s finale.
• Shane Stewart bouncing back from a big crash on his preliminary night was impressive. The comeback story nearly didn’t happen though as Stewart was running out of fuel towards the end of the 25-lap event. If there are multiple cautions during either segment of the 50-lap finale on Saturday we wonder if Stewart might run into problems.
• Brian Brown’s dismal luck continued at the 2019 Knoxville Nationals mechanical issues at the back of his race car forcing an early retirement from the main event and Brown to have to run through the alphabet to even have a chance at making Saturday’s A-Main.
As dominant as Brown has been at Knoxville all season this week’s odd series of events is astounding. Even from 11th starting spot it seemed logical that Brown would be able to work his way into one of the top four positions. Since nearly winning the Nationals in 2014 Brown seems to have found a myriad of pitfalls during Nationals week. The question now becomes can Brown and his team find their groove again well enough to work their way through the alphabet and make Saturday’s main event.
• Even though he missed out on locking into Saturday’s feature during the Friday program Hunter Schuerenberg has been impressive all week filling in for Dale Blaney in Sam McGhee’s entry. Scheuerberg is driving like a man who is auditioning for his next job and showing promise on the Knoxville Nationals stage is a good way to find that job.
• We should all hope to be happy when we do a good job as Dominic Scelzi is when he makes the Knoxville Nationals. Scelzi once again made a grand entrance into the post-race press conference thrilled to make his second career Nationals finale. Don’t let Scelzi’s fun loving personality fool you, he has made tremendous strides over the past couple of seasons and making two consecutive Nationals A-Mains shows this. While Scelzi seems destined to run the family business at some point hopefully that role allows him to keep racing sprint cars because his fun loving, infectious personality combined with his talent is exactly what our sport needs.