For the 47th consecutive year, the best sprint car drivers in the world will converge on the famed Knoxville Raceway this week for four nights of intense racing to crown the winner of the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals. The biggest...
For the 47th consecutive year, the best sprint car drivers in the world will converge on the famed Knoxville Raceway this week for four nights of intense racing to crown the winner of the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals. The biggest event in sprint car racing will pay $150,000 to the winner of the 30-lap finale on Saturday, August 11. Before making the trip to Knoxville for the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals, all 23 full-time drivers with the World of Outlaws took a couple of minutes to share their thoughts on the Knoxville Nationals.
Tony Bruce Jr., driver of the Best Well Service Maxim
"Last year we were the rookie of the year and made the A-Main in our first trip there. In a way it's good and in a way it's bad, because our expectations are really high going into it. Hopefully we can repeat what we did last year...Anytime you get paid real well is a good thing. Even if they didn't pay that much money, it's still a big event and everybody wants to win it. We have to try and treat it like any other day and any other race and go in there and do our job."
Jeremy Campbell, driver of the RLM Financial Maxim
"It's the number one race of the year. You have so many cars, everyone is going to be there. Not only is it one of the biggest racing events, but also one of the biggest "Have a good time" events. I'm really looking forward to it. Competition in the sprint car world is so tough right now and when you put 100 cars together it's just going to make it that much tougher. We've been running with the best all year long and for the last two years, so I think I am ready. I proved myself last week and showed I can run up front. Now I want to do that at the Nationals."
Brian Carlson, driver of the Auto B. Good Maxim
"That's the biggest event and it's the one that everybody wants. If you look back at last year and how many times Donny Schatz tried to win the thing. He gave it a big effort every year and just fell short and last year everything aligned for him. That's how Knoxville is, everything has to align. All the stars have to align and you have to have everything hitting just right and luck going your way. You have to have everything perfect because there are a 100 other teams out there doing the same thing."
Craig Dollansky, driver of the Karavan Trailers Maxim
"It's a big event and definitely the "Granddaddy" of them all. It's the one that everyone wants to win and we have been close there a couple times. It's always one that we look forward to going there. There is a lot of preparation that goes into it. You definitely have to some luck on your side and a good strong qualifying night to put yourself in a good position for Saturday night. We'll go in there focused on the qualifying night and try to come out of there as strong as we can on the first night. We have a good race team here and a good crew and we'll go in there with everything that we have and see what we can do."
Sam Hafertepe Jr., driver of the G.H. Plumbing J&J
"History does have a lot to do with that race. I'm still pretty young and learning the history of it. All the best cars in the country will be there and we are excited. I don't think there is any more pressure going out there. With that many cars you have to have a little luck. We are racing with the best in the country every night, so that should not be a problem."
Randy Hannagan, driver of the Penthouse Magazine Maxim
"It's something that we look forward to all year. We just try to do the best job that we can to get to the Nationals. Last time we were at Knoxville, we ran really well and we'll see if we can repeat that performance... Luck is a lot of it out there. You hate to use that work "luck," but I would rather be lucky than good. Everyone wants that trophy for winning the Knoxville Nationals and the money is the bonus at the end. We always look forward to doing the best that we can and making the show. If we can rank in the Top-24 in the country then it will be a good week, and that is what we set out to do, to make the A-Main. We have the parts and pieces to do it, and the driver and crew are there. We just have to execute it."
Jac Haudenschild, driver of the Wright One Construction Maxim
"There are always a lot of cars at the Knoxville Nationals and they are all good cars. All we can do is do what we know how to do on the car and do the best we can. We're looking forward to taking the Rick Wright car to Knoxville. We have struggled there the last few years and hope to have a good run this season. You always have to have a little luck on your side, but you still have to have the car set up right and the motor running good and do what you know how to do."
Justin Henderson, driver of the Dan Dan the Sonic Man Rocket
"Everyone gears up for Knoxville all year, no matter who they are. Anytime you go to Knoxville or any other place with a lot of history, you want to do well. You always want to be one of the names on the shirts or the billboards afterwards. It's good to get back to Knoxville, it's one of our home tracks. It's a place that we know really well and feel comfortable at. Luck plays a huge role. If you qualify really well you have to start at the back of the heat race. If you start at the back of a really tough heat race, it's tough to transfer through. It's important to draw a good number for qualifying, then to qualify well and on top of that to have a strong heat race."
Chad Hillier, driver of the DIRT Inc. Maxim
"It is a big event, but in theory it's just another race. We always try to come out and be prepared at every race. I think if we go through the same motions, we should be just fine. A lot of guys pull out a lot stop for the race. I'm just hoping to have good Nationals. We struggled a little bit last year, but that was my first Nationals and hopefully we learned from that. We've been to Knoxville more this year and that should help. We need a good qualifying night and make the most of it."
Chad Kemenah, driver Kantor Oil Company XXX
"There's always pressure at Knoxville, and I think it's the guy that deals with it best is who does well. You also have to have some Lady Luck on your side. We've had decent runs in the past. First you have to put yourself in the race and then you have to put yourself in a position to win the thing. We're looking forward to going back there. I enjoy racing at Knoxville. We're looking to turn the corner with the Hard 8 Racing team. We've had a couple of good runs lately and we head into Knoxville on a positive note."
Steve Kinser, driver of the Q Oil Maxim.
"It is definitely the "Granddaddy" of sprint car races. It's the biggest event and the biggest paying purse and the biggest event of the year. When you get out there it definitely makes it special, when you see the place filling up and the atmosphere that is going on there. It not only is the biggest race on track but also off it, as you can see all the fans in the stands. It can make or break your season out there. A win at Knoxville can turn a bad season into a better season. We'll go out there and throw out what we can at them and hope for the best."
Danny Lasoski, driver of the Roth Motorsports JEI
"Going there is very special to me. Knoxville is home. I think Knoxville Raceway is the best rack in the world. I am excited to go there. There are a lot of things that go on with the Nationals. I think they biggest thing is to not get overly pumped up. I treat like I do every other race. I want to win as bad at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) as I do at Knoxville....It's fantastic that Ralph Capitani and the Knoxville Fair Board have put up that kind of money for us to win, but I think anyone you ask in the pit area, the first thing they will say is they want the trophy."
Kerry Madsen, driver of the Selma Shell Maxim
"I just want to win it and then you can be in the history. I'm looking forward to it. We've been good there in the Outlaws shows and just have not come away with a good finish to show. I'm looking forward to having a strong run and getting a good finish. To be in a good position on Saturday night absolutely takes some luck. Hopefully we'll have a little bit of that and that will put us in a good position."
Jason Martin, driver of the NOS Energy Drink Maxim
"It's a big deal and it pays a lot of money. I think a lot of people will tell you that it will make or break their year, especially for a lot of the teams out here this year. It definitely helps a lot to run good there. A lot of it is luck. You have to have some luck where you draw and where you qualify. You have to have a good Wednesday or Thursday and sometimes luck comes into that because one of those nights can be loaded."
Terry McCarl, driver of the Big Game Treestands Eagle
"For every sprint car driver, it is biggest race we have. We've come close to winning it before. Coming from Iowa it's a little bit different. I grew up there and that place means a lot to me. Believe it or not, no driver from Iowa has ever won the race. It would be a first and to win it would be the biggest race of our career... I don't want them to lower the purse, that's for sure, but you don't think about the money. Maybe on Monday morning when you get that check it would sink in. I want my name out there on the plaque out front and if you win that race, your name is written forever in the history books, and that's the biggest thing. The money wouldn't hurt anything though."
Paul McMahan, driver of the Bass Pro Shops Eagle
"We're always excited when the Nationals roll around. We put a new race car together and have some fresh motors and are looking forward to it. You go there so many times for the Nationals that you are ready for the big car counts. You hope to draw a good number and qualify well. The most important laps that you do are the few that you do by yourself. You then have to get from the back of the heat race to the front of the heat race and that is always a challenge. We are ready for it."
Jason Meyers, driver of the Primerica Financial Maxim
"It's the biggest event of the year and you always like to go there and run well. We've had a lot of success there running in the Top-Five the last few years, though we have not gotten a podium finish and have not won it. I've had a great car this season and we have all the tools to win it and hopefully this could be our year to win it. You have to put everything out of mind. It's always the best paying race of the year by far, but it's just as important to win it for the prestige as it is the money. It's a difficult week and it's a stressful week and everything counts you. You have to be prepared for it and I think we have prepared well for it and hopefully that pays off."
Daryn Pittman, driver of the Titan Garages Maxim
"Knoxville is what everyone works their whole year for. It can turn a bad season into a good one or take a good one into a bad one. Everyone always looks forward to it, and having a good showing. We go into it knowing that it is the biggest race of the year and that everyone is there and you want to win. That is why we are there. Obviously the history is knee deep at the track and the town in general. It's a pressure to perform on the biggest stage of the year."
Joey Saldana, driver of the Open Joist Mopar-powered JEI
"Two or three weeks after you finish second or third you realize that, 'Hey this paid well.' At the time of the race, if you are thinking about the money you will not get a good result. I'm been very fortunate to have finished second, third and fourth in the event. One thing that I would really like to accomplish is the first-place trophy. The other two trophies are nice and you accomplish a lot to earn them, but when you get that close, you really want the first-place prize. This team can do it, we just have to put everything together... It used to add a lot to the event knowing that my dad won it, but now I'm 35 years old and I don't really let it bother me anymore. Going into the Nationals, qualifying is important and we have been qualifying well. If we can get a good qualifying run in and have a good qualifying night, hopefully we can be in a position to get in a scramble to help put us in the front of the A-Main on Saturday."
Donny Schatz, driver of the ParkerStore J&J
"To go back as the defending champion of the series and the Nationals is a good feeling. We got all of that weight off of our shoulder. We won it and know what its like to win and now we want to see if we can do it again. It's a fun week. We get to see people from all over the country and all the fans. It's a big and intense week, but it's full of fun. It's been in my favor a number of times, where I have been the guy to beat there. We hope to go back there this week with our game face on and be ready to roll."
Tim Shaffer, driver of the Casey General Stores Maxim
"It definitely is the biggest event of the year. I try to view it as another race. We still have to perform the same way and do the things you have to do for every other race. If you play it as some big event, it will probably bother you more than it will help you as a driver. We have been up and down this year and seem to be qualifying well now and that is a big deal at Knoxville. That is a step in the right direction. We not only want to make the show, but also be competitive this year. The pill draw and the track play a big part in it. If you pull a late number and go out and the track has slowed down that can mess up your whole Nationals. There is a lot of luck not only involved in that, but also in the heat races."
Jason Sides, driver of the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim
"It's a place you definitely want to win at and it's a tough place. The draw is everything and you have to have a good Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before you can make it to Saturday. For us we treat it as another race. It pays a little bit more, but we focus on it like we do every other one. There really isn't any pressure with the higher purse, just more cars from Pennsylvania and California and other places. That makes it a little tougher to make the field. As far as the race, it will be the same as every other night."
Jason Solwold, driver of the City Wide Insulation Maxim
"It certainly is the biggest event of the year and there is more pressure than there should be. We try to look at it as another race, with a few more cars than normal. Everyone gets excited for the event. We head there with momentum after the win in Wisconsin (Charter Raceway Park). I'm waiting for the Nationals to come and then from there, it's downhill as we head out west....The pay at the Nationals is definitely a very good thing."