THE ROAD TO KNOXVILLE
Tony Stewart Racing's McMahan Seeks Victory In the Legendary Knoxville Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS (August 7, 2007) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Paul McMahan is quite familiar with the Playstation2 game that features his No. 20 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Eagle on the front cover. But as the team rolls into Iowa this week for the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals, McMahan knows that the four-day event will be anything but a game.
When it comes to his World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Series racing career, only one item remains unchecked on McMahan's career wish-list -- winning at the legendary Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. McMahan is looking to put his name in the record books as the winner of this week's prestigious event, adding to previous career milestones that have come in the form of victories at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., in 2000, and Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, in 2007.
In the WoO's first appearance at Knoxville this year (April 28), McMahan was credited with a 22nd-place finish. He was involved in a late-race accident that ended the No. 20 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Eagle team's night prematurely. Instead, Donny Schatz won that A-main race on the half-mile oval. In the series' second appearance at Knoxville this year (June 16), McMahan took the checkered flag in 12th place.
In 51 starts this season, McMahan has earned two victories, six fast time awards, 11 top-five finishes and 28 top-10s in WoO competition. He is ranked seventh in the WoO championship standings with 6,666 points. He trails series leader Schatz by 662 points and is only 193 points out of the top-five.
McMahan will compete in Thursday night's preliminary action at the legendary Knoxville Raceway on Thursday. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. CDT. McMahan earned a ninth-place finish on Aug. 10, 2006, in Knoxville preliminary qualifying action.
On Friday, McMahan will participate in the Factory Value Parts World Challenge international invitational event. He qualified for the invitational by competing in 410 winged sprint car competition in Australia over the winter. The lineup for the World Challenge A-main is determined by points accrued by eligible drivers in their respective preliminary events for the Knoxville Nationals.
Saturday's Knoxville Nationals finale will have drivers battling for an A-main purse of $472,500. The total purse for Saturday's finale is $909,275. McMahan finished 11th in the 2006 Knoxville Nationals A-main.
Tickets for the Knoxville Nationals can still be purchased by calling 641-842-5431. The official Web site of Knoxville Raceway is www.knoxvilleraceway.com.
The Knoxville Nationals will again be broadcast live on SPEED-TV. Its coverage of Saturday's finale will begin at 9 p.m. EDT. A re-broadcast of the event will be shown on Sunday at 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.speedtv.com.
Quotes from Paul McMahan, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Bass Pro Shops/Eagle:
In the number of years you've competed in the Knoxville Nationals, where do you believe this year ranks in terms of your chances for a victory?
"I believe that this year will be the best shot I've had to win the Knoxville Nationals in my career. To come here with a team like Tony Stewart Racing definitely adds a lot to our chances. Our Chevrolet motors have been running really well and we've gotten a good handle on the car in the past few weeks. I've been really comfortable in the car we'd been running and we've built a new car identical to that one for this event. The Nationals are such an amazing event. Knoxville Raceway is one of my favorite tracks. We're very confident heading into our preliminary night and hopefully we'll be able to set ourselves, Bass Pro Shops and Chevrolet up well for Saturday."
With the prestige that the Knoxville Nationals presents, does coming back as a veteran change the way you feel or dull the nerves that go to work during such a high-stakes week of racing?
"As a rookie, I'd get really worked up about coming into the Nationals. Now, I come in with a much clearer head and very relaxed. I try to stay as laid back as I can and look at it as another race. But, in the back of your mind, you know it's not just another race. Knoxville Raceway is hallowed ground to anyone who has ever driven a Sprint car. Having been able to compete here for many years, I can now understand the way NASCAR and Indy car drivers feel about Daytona or Indianapolis. As a Sprint-car driver, you feel the same way about Knoxville. As relaxed as I try to stay, when it comes time to push off for hot laps and qualifying on Thursday night, all of those butterflies and nerves come back."
For complete WoO Sprint Series results, log on to www.worldofoutlaws.com. For information regarding Stewart, McMahan, Bass Pro Shops or Chevrolet, log on to www.tonystewartracing.com, www.paulmcmahanracing.com, www.basspro.com or www.chevrolet.com.