Donny Schatz continues to add to his legendary resume at the Knoxville Raceway, as he took his tenth career championship in the 57th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores Saturday night at the Knoxville Raceway. It was the tenth win in twelve years for the Fargo, North Dakota driver, and his eighth aboard the Tony Stewart Racing #15. The win was worth $150,000 and added to the stuff of legends for Donny at Knoxville.
David Gravel, who entered on the pole in the 50-lapper with his perfect score from Thursday night, led early over Schatz and Kerry Madsen. By lap six, he was in lapped traffic. Gravel maneuvered it well, but Schatz stayed close. On the sixteenth lap, Schatz would briefly take the point on the backstretch, but Gravel battled back by.
On lap 19, Austin McCarl went up in smoke, bringing the first caution of the event. Gravel led Schatz, Madsen, Brad Sweet and Brian Brown back to green flag racing. Defending champion, Jason Johnson came from 21st into the top ten by lap 20. His momentum was slowed on lap 22, when Gravel would lose a motor while leading.
The disappointment for the Connecticut driver gave the lead to Schatz. Kyle Larson also inherited a top five spot, and drove by Brown and Sweet for third on the restart. A caution for Terry McCarl, who slowed after getting into the turn three wall, slowed things again.
At that point, the mandatory stop was implemented. After the pause, Schatz led Madsen, Larson, Sweet and Shane Stewart back to green. Madsen took a shot at the leader, but a slider in turn two fell short, allowing Larson to cruise by into second. While Schatz led Larson, Madsen and Stewart, Sweet and Brown exchanged the fifth spot several times.
A final yellow flag flew with twelve laps to go for Greg Hodnett, who stopped in turn four. It erased a 2.2 second lead for Schatz. Back in clean air, Schatz was strong up front. With five laps to go, he entered lapped traffic again. With several cars side by side in front of him, Larson would close.
On the white flag lap, Larson would make a sliding attempt in turn three that would fall short. Schatz would win his tenth Nationals ahead of Larson, Madsen, Stewart and Sweet. Brown, Aaron Reutzel, Rico Abreu, Daryn Pittman and Ian Madsen rounded out the top ten. Rager Phillips won the E main, Jamie Veal won the D, James McFadden claimed the C, and Jason Sides emerged victorious in a highly competitive B main.
Schatz’s crew chief Ricky Warner received Crew Chief of the Nationals honors, taking home a Craftsman Tool Box. Reutzel was the Hard-charger, earning a Max Pappis steering wheel. TheCushion.com awarded $500 to Rookie of the Nationals Dominic Scelzi. Ian Madsen’s KCP Racing #18 was awarded “Best Appearing Car”, followed by Terry McCarl and David Gravel. Best Appearing Crew went to Jason Johnson, followed by Ian Madsen and Harli White.
“I did everything I could to get by (in traffic)," said Schatz in Victory Lane. "That's how it works some days. You can't frustrated by it. You have to figure out what to do. I was off the pace, I knew someone would be coming (at the end of the race). Kyle normally finds everything there is in a race car. You got to stay on your toes with him. He's an awesome sprint car driver. It stinks that he has another career to deal with. I'm just glad that he's part of the sport and still comes back. We're glad to get this win. It's incredible. This whole race team is incredible with what they do. We just won the Knoxville Nationals!"
"That was a fun, tough race," said Larson. "We had some good restarts and got to second. We were maintaining pace with him. We were just waiting for lapped traffic. I knew he'd be good in lapped traffic, but I figured there might be a couple times when he wouldn't clear somebody and get tight. The times he got tight, I got tight on the cushion. It was still a heck of a race. I hammered the wall coming off four coming for the white. I feel that if I hadn't done that, I could have gotten a run and maybe cleared him in two. I just made a costly mistake and ended up second. It was still a good race for (car owner/crew chief) Paul (Silva) and I. We still had fun. Thanks to the fans for talking to Chip (Ganassi) and helping us come out."
"I think I had a really good car to contend for the victory," said Kerry Madsen beside the Tod Quiring #2M. "In traffic, I thought I had a better car than the two cars in front. I thought, 'No worries', we usually get to traffic in those deals. Then the caution would come out. I thought I had a shot at him on the restart (after the stoppage). I figured if he left the door open, I was going to go for it. Unfortunately, that cost me second. I was on Kyle's rear the whole way, but I was never close enough to make a move. I just want to thank my team for working so hard."
E main, (started), 10 Laps, 2:42.3: 1. 22, Rager Phillips, Pleasantville, IA, (2); 2. 9Z, Jared Goerges, Brainerd, MN, (4); 3. 13V, Seth Brahmer, Norfolk, NE, (3); 4. 19L, Todd King, Sheboygan Falls, WI, (1); 5. 83C, Adam Cruea, Troy, OH, (6); 6. 9X, Jake Bubak, Arvada, CO, (9); / 7. 12W, Josh Walter, Plymouth, WI, (5); 8. 13, Clyde Knipp, California, MO, (7); 9. 1P, Curtis Evans, Norborne, MO (8); DNS: 1B, Dustin Selvage, Indianola, IA; 71A, R.J. Johnson, Tampa, FL; 17M, Max McGhee, Camby, IN; 67X, Parker Price-Miller, Kokomo, IN; 4X, Dakota Hendrickson, Omaha, NE; X1, Mason Moore, Chico, CA; 10V, Kyle Reinhardt, Neptune City, NJ; 9C, Roger Campbell, Clyde, OH; 2MM, Matt Moro, Polk City, IA;
D main, (started), 12 Laps, NT: 1. 35V, Jamie Veal, Warrnambool, VIC, Aust. (3); 2. 81, Lee Jacobs, Dalton, OH, (1); 3. 1M, Danny Lasoski, Dover, MO, (4); 4. 68, Chase Johnson, Penngrove, CA, (2); 5. 56N, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN, (8); / 6. 7W, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA, (6); 7. 3P, Sawyer Phillips, Pleasantville, IA, (5); 8. 99G, Skylar Gee, Leduc, Alb., Can. (9); 9. 5J, Jeremy Schultz, Beaver Dam, WI, (13); 10. 70, Clint Garner, Sioux Falls, S.D., (11); 11. 17W, Harli White, Lindsay, OK, (10); 12. 95, Matt Covington, Glenpool, OK, (7); 13. 44, Chris Martin, Ankeny, IA, (12); 14. 9N, Wade Nygaard, Grand Forks, ND, (18); 15. 19 Paige Polyak, Tiffin, OH, (17); 16. 15M, Bobby Mincer, Burlington, IA, (14); 17. 9X, Jake Bubak, Arvada, CO, (24); 18. 8H, Jason Kendrick, Perth, WA, Aust., (16); 19. 9Z, Jared Goerges, Brainerd, MN, (20); 20. 19L, Todd King, Sheboygan Falls, WI, (22); 21. 85, Chase Wanner, Agency, IA, (15); 22. 83C, Adam Cruea, Troy, OH, (23); 23. 13V, Seth Brahmer, Norfolk, NE, (21); 24. 22, Rager Phillips, Pleasantville, IA, (19); DNS: 23W, Scott Winters, Butterfield, MN; 26, Taylor Malsam, Seattle, WA;
C main, (started), 15 Laps, 4:12.0: 1. 3, James McFadden, Ormeau, QLD, Aust. (4); 2. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK, (2); 3. 17B, Bill Balog, Hartland, WI, (1); 4. 17, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH, (6); / 5. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX, (8); 6. 84, Scott Bogucki, McLaren Vale, SA, Aust. (7); 7. 12N, Cole Duncan, Lockbourne, OH, (3); 8. 71, Kevin Thomas Jr., Cullman, AL, (13); 9. 94, Jeff Swindell, Bartlett, TN, (5); 10. 1Z, Dale Blaney, Hartford, OH, (12); 11. W20, Greg Wilson, Benton Ridge, OH, (16); 12. 35V, Jamie Veal, Warrnambool, VIC, Aust. (20); 13. 12, Lynton Jeffrey, Sydney, NSW, Aust. (10); 14. 3G, Carson Macedo, Lemoore, CA, (11); 15. 53, Jack Dover, Springfield, NE, (14); 16. 49J, Josh Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA, (19); 17. 17X, Josh Baughman, Odessa, TX (17); 18. 56N, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN, (24); 19. 68, Chase Johnson, Penngrove, CA, (23); 20. 21AU, Jordyn Brazier, Maroochydore, QLD, Aust. (18); 21. 1X, Don Droud Jr., Lincoln, NE, (15); 22. 81, Lee Jacobs, Dalton, OH, (21); 23. 1M, Danny Lasoski, Dover, MO, (22); 24. 00, Dane Lorenc, Lancaster, NY, (9); DNS: 1, Thomas Kennedy, Winnipeg, MB, Can.
B main, (started), 22 Laps, NT: 1. 7s, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN, (3); 2. 49X, Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa, PA, (8); 3. 55, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (14); 4. 44S, Trey Starks, Puyallup, WA, (2); / 5. 24W, Lucas Wolfe, Mechanicsburg, PA, (5); 6. 10H, Chad Kemenah, Alvada, OH, (11); 7. 83, Justin Henderson, Tea, SD, (1); 8. 14B, Christopher Bell, Norman, OK, (6); 9. 29, Danny Dietrich, Gettysburg, PA, (7); 10. 82, Dusty Zomer, Sioux Falls, SD, (4); 11. 3K, Tim Kaeding, San Jose, CA, (15); 12. 11K, Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN, (17); 13. 51, Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, IN, (19); 14. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK (22); 15. 1A, Jacob Allen, Hanover, PA, (18); 16. 41S, Dominic Scelzi, Fresno, CA, (10); 17. 93, Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, OH, (13); 18. 09, Matt Juhl, Tea, S.D., (9); 19. 17, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH, (24); 20. 19, Brent Marks, Myerstown, PA, (20); 21. 17B, Bill Balog, Hartland, WI, (23); 22. 39, Spencer Bayston, Lebanon, IN, (12); 23. 3, James McFadden, Ormeau, QLD, Aust., (21); 24. 3S, Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN (16);
A main, (started), 50 Laps, NT: 1. 15, Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. (2); 2. 57, Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA, (9); 3. 2M, Kerry Madsen, St. Marys, NSW, Aust. (4); 4. 2, Shane Stewart, Bixby, OK, (10); 5. 49, Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, CA, (3); 6. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO, (5); 7. 87, Aaron Reutzel, Clute, TX, (19); 8. 24R, Rico Abreu, St. Helena, CA, (14); 9. 9, Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK, (7); 10. 18, Ian Madsen, St. Marys, NSW, Aust. (15); 11. 41, Jason Johnson, Eunice, LA, (17); 12. 13JT, Mark Dobmeier, Grand Forks, N.D. (13); 13. 4, Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN, (12); 14. 55, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (23); 15. 24, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA, (6); 16. 7S, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN, (21); 17. 5H, Cory Eliason, Selma, CA, (20); 18. 44, Trey Starks, Puyallup, WA, (24); 19. 27, Greg Hodnett, Spring Grove, CA, (8); 20. 1S, Logan Schuchart, Hanover, PA, (18); 21. 5, David Gravel, Watertown, CT, (1); 22. 2KS, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA, (11); 23. 2C, Wayne Johnson, Oklahoma City, OK, (16); 24. 49X, Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa, PA, (22); Lap Leaders: Gravel 1-22, Schatz 23-50; Hard Charger: Reutzel