The 37th Annual Amoco Knoxville Nationals started just the way the 1996 version ended with Mark Kinser looking dominant. Kinser opened the Nationals on Wednesday night by scoring his 25th Fast Qualifier Award of the season. He finished...
The 37th Annual Amoco Knoxville Nationals started just the way the 1996 version ended with Mark Kinser looking dominant. Kinser opened the Nationals on Wednesday night by scoring his 25th Fast Qualifier Award of the season. He finished second in the first heat race and started the 20-lap "A" Main in the eighth spot. Kenny Jacobs was the early leader until Dave Blaney took command on lap seven. Blaney's lead was short-lived as Kinser roared past the Buckeye Bullet to take the lead one lap later. Blaney kept Kinser in sight while Sammy Swindell and Jacobs raced for third. In the end, Kinser was able to take the win ahead of Blaney, Swindell, Jacobs and Andy Hillenburg.
The second night of qualifying action saw Danny Lasoski set quick time in Chris Black's #1 car. Craig Dollansky took the lead from Paul McMahan on the third lap and looked to be the class of the field, but it was Jac Haudenschild that brought the crowd to their feet. Haudenschild spun during his heat race and almost missed transferring to the "A" and in the feature he was vintage "Wild Child" slicing and dicing his way to the front. He passed Dollansky with two laps remaining and held on for the win. Steve Kinser finished third ahead of Lasoski and Joe Gaerte.
Heavy storms forced Knoxville Raceway officials to postpone Saturday's Finals to Sunday night. The action was just as fierce and Mark Kinser, Sammy Swindell, and Dave Blaney picked up where they left off on Wednesday. Kinser beat Lasoski to starting line and took the lead. Swindell moved into second on lap two and Blaney came from his seventh starting spot to third on lap seven. Lap 10 provided incredible drama as Don Droud Jr. crashed between turns three and four. Swindell, who took the lead on lap eight slowed because of the crash, but Kinser couldn't see the accident and ran over Swindell. Both cars were badly damaged and were forced to the pit area to make changes. Blaney restarted with the lead and worked his #10 car around the bottom of the track as rubber began to come in on the low side. Greg Hodnett made a last lap effort to get by Blaney, but couldn't make the move work. Lasoski finished third ahead of Jac Haudenschild and Johnny Herrera. Blaney's win marked the third consecutive year that a driver had won both the Historical Big One and Amoco Knoxville Nationals in the same season.
The Amoco Knoxville Nationals have always provided great drama, but the 1998 Nationals came down to a classic duel between a local hero and a snake-bitten veteran. Jeff Swindell kicked off the festivities by taking the opening night feature. Swindell, who qualified 21st, took advantage of 13 drivers not qualifying from the heat races and jumped to the lead. Andy Hillenburg was in second, but quickly started his charge for the lead. The two front runners exchanged slide jobs, but Swindell remained in command. Skip Jackson moved into second late in the race and tried to pass the leader twice. Both times Swindell was able to hold off the Knoxville Track Champion and Swindell took the win. Jackson finished second in front of Sammy Swindell, Danny Lasoski, and Hillenburg.
Thursday night's preliminary program was a familiar scene in sprint car racing as Steve Kinser dominated the program. He qualified sixth, won the first heat race and led the final 12 laps to claim the victory. Greg Hodnett jumped to the lead from the pole position, but Donny Schatz took command on lap four. Schatz could only hold the lead for four laps when Kinser caught the #15. Kinser dove to the inside groove and took the lead. Schatz held on for second ahead of hard-charging Johnny Herrera, Garry Brazier and Jac Haudenschild.
August 15, 1998 will be a date always remembered in Amoco Knoxville Nationals history. Local favorite, Danny Lasoski, finally broke through and won the Amoco Knoxville Nationals. The seven-time track champion and career "A" feature winner at the historic half-mile almost brought the house down with his last lap pass of Sammy Swindell. Swindell, who spent most of the early stages battling Jac Haudenschild for the lead, looked poised to claim his first Knoxville crown since 1983. Swindell used the high line to extend his lead, but Lasoski began reeling in Swindell by driving around the bottom groove. The two raced side-by-side for the last half of the race with Swindell high and Lasoski low. On lap 28, Swindell gained control as Lasoski was slowed by lapped traffic. It was only one lap later, when Swindell slowed going into turn one and Lasoski was able to get back by for the lead. Lasoski charged down the backstretch and through turns three and four to take the checkered flag. Haudenshild also got by Swindell to round out the top three. Donny Schatz continued a great weekend by passing Steve Kinser late in the race to finish fourth and fifth respectively.