Schatz captures seventh Knoxville Nationals title

Published: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 11:14 a.m.CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 11:55 a.m.CDT
Caption
(Max Dolder/Special to Daily News)
Donnie Schatz is all smiles in victory lane at Knoxville, holding up his winnings Saturday coming from 21st to win his seventh Knoxville Nationals sprint car title in eight years.
Caption
(Max Dolder/Special to Daily News)
Donny Schatz (15) has the line at the bottom to get past Joey Saldana (71m) in Saturday’s Knoxville Nationals main race. Saldana was the pole sitter in the finale but Schatz claimed his seventh Knoxville Nationals title in eight years at Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE (AP) — This was supposed to be the year that Donny Schatz’s dominance at the Knoxville Nationals came to an end.

Schatz answered his doubters with a performance that left many wondering if he’ll ever lose here again.

Schatz charged from the back of the field Saturday night to win the Knoxville Nationals sprint car race for the seventh time in eight years.

Schatz earned $150,000 for winning the world’s premier sprint car event. He started 21st, the furthest back of any winner at the nationals.

Brian Brown was second, followed by Justin Henderson, Paul McMahan and Chad Kemenah.

The race came less than a week after NASCAR star Tony Stewart, Schatz’s team owner, broke his leg racing sprint cars in nearby Oskaloosa.

“I wouldn’t call it doubt. I was calling it motivation,” Schatz said. “This race team is unbelievable.”

Fellow NASCAR driver Kyle Larson finished sixth.

Not only had Schatz won six of the last seven nationals, he was the runner-up in 2010. But he had a rough week — up until Saturday night.

Schatz came to Iowa as the hottest driver in the World of Outlaws sprint car series, leading with 13 wins — five in July alone. But Stewart’s wreck put a damper on his stay.

Schatz then had so much trouble in the qualifying races leading up to Saturday night’s main feature that he was forced to qualify for it from the B-Main — and he got booed by the crowd during introductions for that race.

Schatz won the B and started the A-Main ahead of just four cars. Schatz was up to sixth through 20 laps and four cautions and moved to fourth after the competition caution halfway through the 50-lap event.

Schatz methodically cut into Brown’s lead and passed him with 10 laps left. He cruised from there to take home perhaps the most impressive win of his storied career.

“I told these guys that if weren’t in the top five on that competition caution, we were going to be in trouble,” Schatz said. “We didn’t have the best performance until (Saturday).”

The nationals, an annual celebration of a sport that enjoys a grass roots following across the country, started with a flourish. The 25-car field went four-wide as the smoke from the checkered flag fireworks still hung in the air. It only took one turn for the race to be red-flagged.

Stevie Smith caught the fence and flipped upside down. He was fine though, and Brown took the lead from pole sitter Joey Saldana on the restart.

But there were three cautions in the first four laps alone, including one for tire damage from World of Outlaws points leader Daryn Pittman. That didn’t stop Brown from building a huge lead of as many as four seconds on Saldana.

“I think I may (have) used my stuff up a little too early. Hats off to Donny Schatz,” Brown said.

All those cautions allowed Schatz to edge closer to the front, and his No. 15 Tony Stewart Racing car cruised to the win by a comfortable 4 seconds.

There were still some boos for Schatz after the race, but not nearly as many as before it started.

“Man to get through there ... I don’t know what the hell else anyone wants me to do,” Schatz said.

The finale of the 53rdFVP Knoxville Nationals began in the “E” Feature with Sammy Swindell winning. Dale Blaney topped the night’s “D” Feature with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. moving on via a “C” Feature. The “B” Feature was won by Schatz with a last corner pass on Lynton Jeffrey.

Kevin Swindell, Roger Crockett,and Cap Henry made their first FVP Knoxville Nationals Championship “A” Feature start.

Kevin Swindell also earned the 2013 Jesse Hockett “Mr. Sprint Car” Award for his runs during Southern IowaSprint Week.

Danny Dietrich earned the Rookie of the Year honors for the 53rd running of the FVP Knoxville Nationals, advancing out of the “C” Feature and placing 16th in the “B” Feature.

Henderson and the BDS Motorsports team earned the best appearing car of the year. The best appearing crew honor went to Cole Wood Racing. Crews for Saldana and Jonathan Allard completed the top three best appearing crews.

The Knoxville Championship Cup Series will conclude 2013 with Season Championship Night on Aug. 24. All three sprint car divisions will be in action. For moreinformation, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com.

53rdAnnual FVP

Knoxville Nationals Results

E main (started), 10 laps, 2:38.9: 1. 1, Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN (4);2. 20, AJ Moeller, Rockwell City, IA (2); 3. 20K, Thomas Kennedy, Winnipeg, MB, Can.(3); 4. 17B, Bill Balog, Hartland, WI(5); 5. 01, Paul Morris, Gold Coast,QLD, Aust. (7); 6. 10V, Glen Saville,Razorback, NSW, Aust. (9); 7. 2K, KevinIngle, Huron, SD (6) / 8. 12P, TJ Peterson, Des Moines, IA (8); 9. 20PK, Ron Krysl, Atkinson, NE (10); 10. 28, Brian Paulus, Mechanicsburg, PA (11)DNS – 45, Danny Holtgraver, Pittsburgh, PA, 71, Robert Bell, Colfax, IA, 21x,Bryan Clauson, Noblesville, IN, 6R, Ryan Bunton, Morton, IL, 2s, Lee Sowell,Lake Cormorant, MS

D main (started),12 laps, 3:22.7: 1. 2B, Dale Blaney, Hartford, OH (3);2. 93H, Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (2); 3. Sammy Swindell (18); 4. 7G, Kaley Gharst, Decatur, IL (1); 5. 23K, Rob Kubli, Milo, IA (4) / 6. 1x, TonyBruce Jr., Liberal, KS (8); 7. 24R, RicoAbreu, St. Helena, CA (10); 8. 6BR, BillRose, Plainfield, IN (7); 9. 69, MikeMoore, Des Moines, IA (6); 10. 0, JonathanAllard, Chico, CA (15); 11. 1K, ChrisShirek, Thompson, ND (9); 12. Bill Balog(21); 13. 40, Caleb Helms, Findlay, OH(5); 14. 74x, Josh Hodges, Tijeras, NM(13); 15. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow,OK (17); 16. 88, Jarrod Schneiderman,West Burlington, IA (11); 17. 80, TreyGustin, West Union, OH (16); 18. 19, BobWeuve, Newton, IA (14); 19. 1a, JacobAllen, Hanover, PA (12); 20. Paul Morris(22); 21. Kevin Ingle (24); 22. Thomas Kennedy (20); 23. Glen Saville (23); 24. AJ Moeller (19) DNS – 17, Jack Dover,Springfield, NE, 44w, Austen Wheatley, Lake Stevens, WA, w20, Greg Wilson,Benton Ridge, OH

C main (started),15 laps, NT: 1. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr.,Sunnyvale, TX (1); 2. 83, Tim Shaffer,Aliquippa, PA (7); 3. 48, Danny Dietrich,Gettysburg, PA (4); 4. 49, JoshSchneiderman, West Burlington, IA (2) / 5. 11K, Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN(16); 6. o5, Brad Loyet, Sunset Hills,MO (12); 7. Sammy Swindell (22); 8. 71J, R.J. Johnson, Tampa, FL (11); 9. 9P, Rager Phillips, Pleasantville, IA(6); 10. 19M, Brent Marks, Myerstown, PA(19); 11. 2L, Ed Lynch Jr., Apollo, PA (5); 12. 27, Lance Dewease, Fayetteville, PA(13); 13. 17w, Cole Wood, Auburn, CA(10); 14. Sheldon Haudenschild(21); 15. 23, Jimmy Light, WestSpringfield, PA (18); 16. 45x, JohnnyHerrera, Albuquerque, NM (15); 17. KaleyGharst (23); 18. 35, Skylar Prochaska,Lakefield, MN (17); 19. 7K, DustinSelvage, Indianola, IA (3); 20. 17A, AustinMcCarl, Altoona, IA (8); 21. Rob Kubli(24); 22. Dale Blaney (20); 23. 4s, Danny Smith, Chillicothe, OH(14); 24. 7TAZ, Tasker Phillips,Pleasantville, IA (9) DNS – 1B, Robby Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, SD

B main (started),22 laps, NT: 1. 15, Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND (4);2. 12, Lynton Jeffrey, Prairie City, IA (1); 3. 91, Dusty Zomer, Sioux Falls, SD (9); 4. 18, Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (8)/ 5. 82, Scott Winters, Butterfield, MN (2);6. 9w, Brandon Wimmer, Fairmount, IN (11); 7. 14AJ, Wayne Johnson, Knoxville, IA(13); 8. 7s, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN(3); 9. 96, Bronson Maeschen,Pleasantville, IA (19); 10. 24, TerryMcCarl, Altoona, IA (7); 11. 7, CraigDollansky, Elk River, MN (6); 12. 56, DaveyHeskin, St. Michael, MN (16); 13. 13, MarkDobmeier, Grand Forks, ND (10); 14. 11N,Randy Hannagan, Pittsboro, IN (14); 15. 41,Jason Johnson, Eunice, LA (12); 16.Danny Dietrich (23); 17. 94, JeffSwindell, Bartlett, TN (15); 18. 47, DonDroud Jr., Lincoln, NE (17); 19. JoshSchneiderman (24); 20. 1s, LoganSchuchart, Hanover, PA (20); 21. SamHafertepe Jr. (21); 22. 83JR, TimKaeding, San Jose, CA (5); 23. 55XM, JamesMcFadden, Brisbane, QLD, Aust. (18); 24.Tim Shaffer (22)

A main (started),50 laps, NT: 1. Donny Schatz(21); 2. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley,MO (2); 3. 1D, Justin Henderson, Tea, SD(4); 4. 51, Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN(6); 5. 63, Chad Kemenah, Alvada, OH(19); 6. 1KL, Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA(17); 7. 71M, Joey Saldana, Brownsburg,IN (1); 8. 33, Danny Lasoski, Dover, MO(13); 9. 11, Steve Kinser, Bloomington,IN (12); 10. 54, Cap Henry, Bellevue, OH(18); 11. Dusty Zomer (23); 12. 39, Greg Hodnett, Thomasville, PA(16); 13. 49K, Brad Sweet, Grass Valley,CA (5); 14. 9, Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK(11); 15. 4, Cody Darrah, Red Lion, PA(10); 16. 29, Kerry Madsen, St. Mary’s,NSW, Aust. (8); 17. 57, Shane Stewart,Bixby, OK (3); 18. 11c, Roger Crockett,Medford, OR (15); 19. 55, Brooke Tatnell,Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (25); 20. 71s, KevinSwindell, Germantown, TN (9); 21. IanMadsen (24); 22. Lynton Jeffrey(22); 23. 6, David Gravel, Watertown, CT(7); 24. 59, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster,OH (20); 25. 19s, Stevie Smith, BrokenArrow, OK (14). Lap Leaders: Brown 1-40, Schatz 41-50. Hard-charger:Schatz.

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