By Shawn Miller
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (August 5) – Thursday was as up and down as any day has been this season for Justyn Cox.
In the opening night of the 360 Knoxville Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway, the 16-year-old from Clarksburg, Calif., qualified 33rd – missing the invert by three positions.
He was relegated to start the third of five, eight-lap heat races in seventh. With the top-four finishers locked into the A Main, the next four to the B Main and the final drivers to the C Main, Cox had his work cut out for him.
“With the qualifying format here, it is critical to put down a good time and make it somewhere into the invert,” said Cox, referring to the format that the top six drivers in each heat race are inverted.
“We just missed out on starting near the front of a heat race and making it a little easier to get into the feature.”
When Erin Crocker, who started third in his heat race, flipped in turn one of the opening lap, it moved Cox up a row for the restart. He then outgunned Johnny Anderson for the fifth spot on the restart and passed Matt Moro for fourth place on the second lap. Cox held onto the position, earning the final transfer.
“That was a huge weight off my shoulders to lock ourselves into the feature,” Cox said. “The track was better on the bottom so it helped to start and restart low, and I was able to make that pass for the final transfer off the bottom of turn four.”
Cox started the feature 20th and finished 22nd in his first career 360 Knoxville Nationals experience. Cox will wait until the finish of Friday’s second preliminary night to determine where he will start on Saturday’s day of main events.
“It was great to make the feature tonight,” Cox said. “We didn’t score as many points in qualifying and the feature as we hoped, so I think we’ll probably start in the C Main on Saturday. It’s a tough field of competitors and I’m excited to give it another shot in a couple of days.”
For more information, including the complete results, visit www.justyncox.com.