Knoxville Nationals: Finale race report

Lasoski wins third Knoxville Nationals championship. KNOXVILLE, IA (August 16) - Danny Lasoski held off Donny Schatz during a furious, two-lap dash to the checkered flag to win the 43rd Annual Ford Dealers of Iowa Knoxville Nationals Saturday at...

Lasoski wins third Knoxville Nationals championship.

KNOXVILLE, IA (August 16) - Danny Lasoski held off Donny Schatz during a furious, two-lap dash to the checkered flag to win the 43rd Annual Ford Dealers of Iowa Knoxville Nationals Saturday at Knoxville Raceway.

Lasoski, who drove the #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle past Schatz for the lead late in the eighth lap, suffered a broken left rear shock just before the 29th-lap caution period. The 2001 O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series champion raced away as the green flag replaced the yellow and beat Schatz under the checkered flag by two car-lengths for his third Nationals championship. Schatz, who started on the pole, finished second for the third time in the last four years.

"I don't know when the shock broke, but the car was vibrating badly," said Lasoski, who also won Nationals titles in 1998 and 2001. "I didn't know what it was, but I made this thing (his car) really wide. It was just really loose. The restart was terrible, but we won anyway. These two guys right here - Tony Stewart and Jimmy Carr - made it happen.

"The first one (Nationals championship) was very special. The second one was the first time I was with (car owner) Tony Stewart and this is all about him. He has the faith in Jimmy and I to run this team, and I couldn't do without him."

Stewart, who jubilantly jumped from his chair in the J.D. Byrider suite as Doug Clark waved the checkered flags, was proud of his driver.

"I think he did a pretty good job," the defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion said. "To win with a broken shock, he did that on his own ... he didn't do that because of us. He had his elbows up and he ran those two laps the way he wanted to run them, and that's what it took to win the Nationals. I'm proud of (crew chief) Jimmy Carr and want to thank Kistler Engines, J.D. Byrider, Home Depot, Eagle Chassis and everybody who has helped us with this team since we started it three years ago."

Carr, who knew something was amiss on the #20 during the caution period, said his heart stopped three times during the final lap.

"I don't think Danny Lasoski has ever run two worse laps at Knoxville Raceway," said Carr, the 1991 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year.

Schatz, who won the Preliminary Feature on opening night, drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J into the lead as the green flag fell in the 30-lap main event. Lasoski took the inside line around the legendary half-mile oval to pass Paul McMahan and Greg Hodnett during the opening lap.

Schatz opened a 12 car-length advantage during the first four laps, but "The Dude" caught him four laps later and passed him for the lead deep in the third corner.

Lasoski, who has now won 82 feature races at Knoxville Raceway, was a half-straightaway ahead of Schatz when he entered lapped traffic during the 11th lap, but saw his lead shrink to 10 car-lengths by the middle of the race.

"The Dude" had a 1½-second advantage on Schatz when Daryn Pittman stopped on the front straightaway early in lap 29. Lasoski controlled the restart and, although the broken shock caused him to miss his marks in the second and fourth corners during the final lap, claimed the $125,000 first prize.

"We were just beaten," a somber Schatz said. "We weren't very good at the end and Danny was a lot better so he ended up winning. He got a pretty good run on the restart and we didn't. He wasn't as fast as he normally was, but we weren't any better."

Kenny Jacobs, who passed former Nationals champions Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell during the 19th lap and McMahan and Hodnett the next time around, finished in third place.

"I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've passed Steve Kinser," Jacobs said. "When that J&J car went by him that fast, I thought, 'my gosh, I have a race car here or he's frozen.' I don't know who was next, but I went by him at the same speed. The Kriner engine was hitting hard because we were so tied down on the bottom of the track. It pulled off the corner like I couldn't imagine.

"I'm shocked to be here because I didn't even want to come to the Nationals. We didn't have anything in line and, at the last minute, we threw things together. We came out here and Bob Kriner came along and said 'stick my motor in the car,' and everything has been uphill since then."

Swindell finished fourth, ahead of Hodnett, Kinser, Shane Stewart, McMahan, 17th-starting Jason Meyers and Stevie Smith. Chad Kemenah won the "B" Feature, then raced into 14th place from inside the 11th row.

Three-time Nationals champion Mark Kinser raced with a heavy heart Saturday as his father, car owner and crew chief, Karl, underwent an emergency appendectomy.

Kasey Kahne, who finished second in the Cabela's 250 NASCAR Busch Series event at Michigan International Speedway that afternoon, raced into ninth place in the "B" Feature.

Erin Crocker, the first female to race in the main event in Knoxville Nationals history, received the Rookie of the Nationals award. Karavan Racing's #7 VMAC Maxim driven by Meyers was voted the Best Appearing Car and Stewart's mechanics received the Best Appearing Crew award.

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Kasey Kahne , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Erin Crocker , Kenny Jacobs , Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Paul McMahan , Shane Stewart , Chad Kemenah