Kraig Kinser back to defend Knoxville Nationals crown KNOXVILLE, Iowa -- Kraig Kinser will be doing a lot of racing this weekend. He'll be doing even more flying in order to do that racing. Of late, the question has been whether or not Kraig...
Kraig Kinser back to defend Knoxville Nationals crown
KNOXVILLE, Iowa -- Kraig Kinser will be doing a lot of racing this weekend.
He'll be doing even more flying in order to do that racing.
Of late, the question has been whether or not Kraig would defend his Knoxville Nationals crown.
Kraig has been getting used to pavement and fenders this year as a rookie on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. His best finish to date came last Friday, when he came home 13th at O'Reilly (formerly Indianapolis ) Raceway Park .
The trucks race Saturday evening at Nashville Superspeedway in Nashville , Tenn. Of course, that happens to be the same night as the 46th annual Super Clean Knoxville Nationals in Knoxville , Iowa .
The truck race is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. Central Time on Saturday. Racing at Knoxville is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. Action at Knoxville kicks off Wednesday evening.
Kraig confirmed Wednesday morning Aug. 9 he is indeed running at both Nashville and Knoxville this weekend.
"Yes I am," said Kraig, who will once again be driving for father and 12-time Knoxville Nationals champion Steve Kinser, who recently became co-owner of the National Sprint Tour.
Kraig will have to fly to Nashville for Friday's truck practice, return to Knoxville that evening, fly back to Nashville for Saturday's truck race, then immediately return to Knoxville .
"We don't know yet on all the travel details," Kraig said. "It's going to be close. We don't know for sure what we're doing yet. We're looking at the schedules over here in Knoxville ."
Steve Kinser said prior to Sunday's NST race in Hagerstown , Md the . decision of racing in the Nationals was his son's to make .
"If Kraig wants to do it, we will do a third car," Steve Kinser said at the time. "It's up to him. He has another race on Saturday, so we don't know what to do. He had a good run (Aug. 4) at Indy. He looked good at that race."
Kraig also looked good at the Knoxville Nationals last year.
"I think about it every day sometimes," Kraig acknowledged. "A lot of times it hasn't sunk in fully yet. One of the biggest deals about going back is I'm a little bit rusty, but I feel like I owe it to the fans to show up, or at least try.
"It's not like I'm totally clueless, but being out of a Sprint car a year has hurt," Kraig added. "I'm trying to give my pavement career a shot. I'm starting to get more comfortable in the truck."
Last Friday was Kraig's first run with a new crew and new crew chief Eric Phillips.
"I feel we have pretty good momentum coming from (Indy) with our truck," Kraig said. "Getting Eric has helped. We got along pretty good from the start, so it will be a good thing."
On the other hand, Kraig hasn't driven a Sprint car at all in about six months.
"That's the longest break I've had since I was 17 or 18," the 21-year-old said. "It might take a couple of laps to get going, but when those laps are coming at the Knoxville Nationals it might be a couple of laps too late."
A true team effort is being made this weekend at Steve Kinser Racing, which has won 15 of the NST races run this season. Tim Kaeding has won 11 of those races.
"We've brought a couple of extra people out," Kraig said. "My uncle Randy is coming out and will be with me. He was my crew chief when I started in Sprint cars. I think Scott (Gerkin, Steve's crew chief) is helping, since we run different nights. It's a group effort. We have two teams, running a third car."
Steve Kinser runs the Wednesday qualifying night, while Kraig Kinser and Kaeding run on Thursday.
Kraig grew up going to the Knoxville Nationals.
"I definitely always looked forward to the Knoxville Nationals," he said. "I haven't missed a race. It is definitely a good time for me, but usually it also meant a week later I had to go back to school.
"I'm just happy to be around Knoxville whenever I get a chance," the defending champion added. "I like competing. It's been a while since I watched a Knoxville Nationals. I don't want to know what it feels like again."
Last year on this weekend, Kraig spent Sunday winning the rain-delayed Knoxville Nationals. After this year's grueling weekend, he has a different plan for Sunday.
"I'm definitely going to be sleeping pretty well Sunday when I get home," he said.