By Ken Johnson
NATIONAL SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONSHIP – Knoxville, Iowa
Schatz Pockets $150, 000
Donny Schatz didn’t just win the 53rd running of the storied FVP Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway, he turned in one of the greatest performances in the history of sprint car racing on the sport’s biggest stage.
After struggling during the Wednesday preliminary feature, Schatz was forced to start Saturday on the outside of the second row in the Last Chance Showdown, or B-main. He won that race to earn the 21st starting position in the $150,000-to-win, 50-lap A-main.
Nobody had ever won the Nationals from deeper than 14th and here was Schatz attempting to win from another area code in his STP Gas Booster J&J. Then, in one of the most dominating runs in World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series history, Schatz picked off car after car until finally, with nine laps to go, he caught and passed leader Brian Brown, who finished second to Schatz for the second consecutive year.
Justin Henderson, Paul McMahan and Chad Kemenah rounded out the top five finishers.
A-Main (50 laps):1. Donny Schatz (21) ($150,000); 2. Brian Brown (2) ($75,000); 3. Justin Henderson (4)($37,500); 4. Paul McMahan (6)($26,000); 5. Chad Kemenah (19)($21,000); 6. Kyle Larson (17)($20,000); 7. Joey Saldana (1)($19,000); 8. Danny Lasoski (13)($18,000); 9. Steve Kinser (12)($17,000); 10. Cap Henry (18)($16,000); 11. Dusty Zomer (23)($15,000); 12. Greg Hodnett (16)($14,000); 13. Brad Sweet (5)($13,000); 14. Daryn Pittman (11)($12,000); 15. Cody Darrah (10)(11,000); 16. Kerry Madsen (8)(10,500); 17. Shane Stewart (3)($10,000); 18. Roger Crockett (15) ($10,000); 19. Brooke Tatnell (25) ($10,000); 20. Kevin Swindell (9) ($10,000); 21. Ian Madsen (24) ($10,000); 22. Lynton Jeffrey (22) ($10,000); 23. David Gravel (7) ($10,000); 24. Jac Haudenschild (20) ($9,500); 25. Stevie Smith (14) ($9,500).
FRIDAY RACES WERE RAINED OUT
It took Duane Howard until the closing laps of the Forrest Rogers Memorial to steer his backup BPG Racing No. 4 into the lead and grab the $10,000 win in the 50 lap NASCAR 358 Modified Classic on Saturday night at Grandview Speedway. Sam Schlosberg wheeled his Green Lane Auto Sales No. 70 to his third 25-lap Late Model feature and Mike Lisowski took his second win of the season in the 25-lap Sportsman feature with his M &J Construction No. 15.
A large crowd was on hand to see Jon Kellner Jr. lead early in the 50-lap Modified main event before turning the top spot over to Jeff Strunk. At the 27 lap marker Craig VonDohren coming from 22nd took the top spot and at 44 laps Duane Howard was able to get the lead after starting 24th and set the pace for the balance of the race. The win was the eighth of the season for Howard. Second place went to VonDohren followed by Jeff Strunk, Jon Kellner Sr. and John Willman.
Sam Schlosberg challenged Steve Nederostek for the lead for much of the 25 lap Late Model race but in the late laps the leader bobbled in turn four giving Schlosberg the opening he needed. Once in front Schlosberg was able to lead the rest of the way for his third win. Second went to Jason Miller followed by Nederostek, Wayne Pfeil and Sean Merkel.
Mike Lisowski went to the front of the field in the 25-lap Sportsman race near the midway point passing early leader Joe Fanelli. Once in front he was able to hold off a late race challenge from Jared Umbenhauer to get the win. Umbenhauer grabbed second with Joe Fanelli taking third. Fourth and fifth were claimed by Ryan Beltz and Ryan Lilick.
Note: As a tribute to Kramer Williamson, who died last week from injuries received at Lincoln Speedway, Lincoln, Selinsgrove, Port Royal, and Williams Grove took a collection with monies going to the Williamson Family and many cars sported the color Pink along with fans and race teams wearing pink shirts. Some drivers even donated their entire winnings. Williams Grove Speedway was rained out Friday and will have their collection this Friday.
Brian Montieth took advantage of a late-race restart to claim his fifth Lincoln win of the year in the special 33-lap Second Annual Brandon Little Memorial/Fallen Firefighters Night feature on Saturday. Montieth’s payday was a cool $5,000. Handicapping placed Montieth ninth for the start. Points leader Fred Rahmer, who started tenth,finished second, and 11th-starting Alan Krimes took third 12th-starting Jim Siegel came home fourth. Cory Haas, who started 14th, made a late-race pass to finish fifth, with Tim Glatfelter, Steve Owings, Glenndon Forsythe, Kyle Moody, and Gerald McIntyre (who came from the back) finishing sixth through tenth. Williams Grove points leader Kevin Nouse made a rare Lincoln appearance, and came from 11th-starting spot to claim his second career Lincoln win in the 20-lap, $1,333-to-win 358 sprint car feature.
Point leader Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove had to pass Keith Kauffman not once but twice to drive to his fourth 410 sprint victory of the season at Port Royal Speedway on Saturday night.
Just one week before the oval hosts Keith Kauffman Farewell Tribute night, the 63-year old veteran looked ready to pick up his first win of the season but Heimbach would not be denied for the $3,000 victory.
In the 20-lap late model feature, Coleby Frye of Dover drove to his third oval win of the year.
JJ Grasso of Pedricktown, N.J., scored an emotional victory Saturday at Selinsgrove Speedway in the 25-lap URC 360 sprint car feature on a night filled with tributes to the late legendary driver Kramer Williamson who died last weekend from injuries he sustained in a URC-sanctioned race at Lincoln Speedway last Saturday.
The win for Grasso, the points leader, was his third of the year and second this season at Selinsgrove at the wheel of the Viper Venom/Eldreth Construction No. 25, which was a Kramer Kraft sprint car manufactured by Williamson’s chassis shop.
Fans, crew members, and drivers came out dressed in their pink shirts and apparel to honor Williamson and his famous “Pink Panther” No. 73. The Williamson family, wife Sharon, son Kurt, and daughter Felecia, joined Grasso in Victory Lane as part of Saturday’s tribute.
Pat Cannon of Etters had his Highland’s Tire & Service Centers No. 3 358 sprint car in overdrive as he rocketed to his seventh win of the year in the division’s 25-lap feature.
Bryan Bernheisel of Lebanon drove to his first career super late model win in the division’s 25-lap feature, while Shaun Miller of Tower City won his third 15-lap pro stock feature of the season. In the Late Model Championship Andy Haus picked off a seventh place finish while his father Scott finished 13th
JJ Grasso in victory lane at Selinsgrove Speedway with the Williamsonfamily