Schatz Wins "A" Scramble and Puts Parkerstore Team in Third Row For Nationals "A" Feature KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz came to the Knoxville Nationals not knowing for sure if he could be a threat to win sprint car racing's biggest premiere event.
Schatz Wins "A" Scramble and Puts Parkerstore Team in Third Row For Nationals "A" Feature
KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz came to the Knoxville Nationals not knowing for sure if he could be a threat to win sprint car racing's biggest premiere event. Schatz answered that question with his solid performance in Wednesday's opener of the 44th annual Knoxville Nationals presented by Midwest Ford Dealers and improved his chances Friday night by winning the "A" Scramble at Knoxville Raceway.
"It's great to win the scramble, but the big key was to move up a couple of spots in lineup," said Schatz, who was ninth in points after qualifying. "We wanted to get to the third row if possible. It's just too hard to come from any further back and catch the leader. We're going to start sixth, and I really believe if everything goes right we've got a chance to get this thing. It says a lot about my team the way they've kept plugging away all week. We had two motors that we were planning on using this week that we blew up last Friday night at Eldora, so we didn't know what we had until we got here. Everyone kept saying we'll be fine. 'Let's just go race and take care of business.' The positive energy helped me mentally and everybody knows that a big part of racing is being able to focus. I was able to come into this week in the right frame of mind and I think it's paying off."
Schatz started the 12-lap "A" Scramble on the outside of the front row. Pole-sitter Mark Kinser got the jump on Schatz as the green flag dropped, but Schatz charged the #15 ParkerStore J&J around Kinser and the two swapped the lead a couple of times before Schatz ultimately pulled ahead. The fast way around the race track was around the high-side and the Fargo, ND racer continued to "pound the cushion" for the remainder of the race. The win added 21 points to his qualifying score and moved him past three other competitors and into the sixth starting spot.
"Our J&J car has been really good here and this Shaver engine we plugged in is hitting strong," said Schatz. "To be good here, everything has to work at peak performance. I knew coming in here that we would have to be at our best, yet also have a little luck. You have to do things at this race that you might not have to do a regular race. Like the heat race on Wednesday, I knew if I didn't beat Steve (Kinser) that our chances at winning the nationals were over. We got a little lucky when some of the guys had problems in the Thursday's feature and it allowed us to slip into the scramble. By getting into the scramble, we got a chance to improve and that's what we did. I've been in this position the last four years and I just hoping to drive the best 30 laps of my life so we come home first."
The ParkerStore team led by Crew Chief Tyler Swank will spend Saturday preparing the car for the biggest race of the year. Crewman Brian Bloomfield and John Pate will also make sure everything on the car is ready to help Schatz finally get over the hump. Schatz has three second place finishes in the last four years and Swank is confident things can turn out right tonight.
"We've had a good couple of nights and just need one more," said Swank. "Our goal was to give Donny the best car possible and he's been doing a great job driving it the first two nights. We've been here before and the best car will win this race tonight. I've got total confidence in him and the team is going to do everything we can to help him make it happen."
Coverage of the final night of the Knoxville Nationals will be provided by Speed Channel beginning at 8:00 PM Central Time. Four hours of live coverage will include the E, D, C, B and A-Features and fans can also catch the action on the internet courtesy of the Sprint Car Network at www.sprintcarnet.com