McKENZIE, TN -- Every year the sprint car racing world turns its attention to the Knoxville Nationals in mid-August. Several J&J teams shined during the 43rd running of the prestigious event. There were also races at other venues last weekend and...
McKENZIE, TN -- Every year the sprint car racing world turns its attention to the Knoxville Nationals in mid-August. Several J&J teams shined during the 43rd running of the prestigious event. There were also races at other venues last weekend and J&J Auto Racing teams were very successful at those tracks also.
With all eyes on sprint car racing's biggest prize, a number of J&J Auto Racing teams performed superbly at the 43rd Ford Dealers of Iowa Knoxville Nationals. Donny Schatz, Kenny Jacobs and Sammy Swindell finished second, third and fourth in Saturday's 30-lap "A" Feature finale while several other teams also represented themselves well in front of a crowd of more than 30,000 and a live television audience courtesy of the Speed Channel.
Donny Schatz led the J&J drivers at the Knoxville Nationals once again as the 26 year-old driver continues to be fast at the Nationals. Schatz had an excellent week of action in the #15 ParkerStore J&J winning Wednesday's Preliminary feature and earning the pole position for Saturday's race. He led the feature early, came within three car-lengths of winning the race, and scored his third runner-up finish in the last four years.
"We had a decent weekend and certainly one that many people would be happy with, but I'm just not satisfied with second place," said Schatz, who has won three consecutive preliminary features at the Nationals. "This was a new race car and it worked great. We just weren't as good in the feature to win the race. The only thing we can do is come back next year and try again."
Kenny Jacobs had a tremendous weekend in the Pete Grove Motorsports #70 J&J. Jacobs was fast all weekend with Andy Potter turning the wrenches on the racecar. Jacobs finished third in the Nationals "A" Feature racing from his seventh starting position. He really came on following a late yellow.
"I think that if we would have had that yellow with more laps to go we could have got this race," said Jacobs following the event. "I said all week that this was the best racecar that I've ever had under me at this track. Late in the race, I just started driving up to the guys in front of me. What a thrill and I can't say enough about his J&J car."
For Potter, it marked a career-best finish at the Nationals. He has been successful with J&J's all-season no matter the driver. "These racecars are awesome," said Potter. "I worked for the Miller team earlier in the year and was successful with Paul McMahan and Jeff Shepard. Pete (Grove) hired me to come do his deal and ordering new J&J's was the first thing we did. The car was great all week and we're excited to go run more races."
Sammy Swindell raced the Roth Motorsports #1 J&J from eighth to fourth and was really coming on strong late. Veteran crew chief Kenny Woodruff had the car at its best during the final ten laps. They were fast early in the week also posting the fastest qualification lap on Wednesday and it was faster than anyone on Thursday as well.
Other J&J's at the Nationals:
Historical Big One winner, Daryn Pittman, Ed Lynch Jr., Lance Dewease (who won the Front Row Challenge at Southern Iowa Speedway) and Erin Crocker also made the "A" Feature field, which paid $5500 to start. Crocker was named Rookie of the Nationals driving the Woodring Racing #16 J&J.
"This is a huge thrill and an honor I certainly won't forget," said Crocker. "Mike (Woodring) had the car really nice and to be in my first week of 410 action I think we did well." Crocker, who was the first female in history to start the "A" Feature, was impressive in her qualifying night to help earn her starting position in the Nationals "A Feature.
Travis Cram, Skip Jackson, Fred Rahmer and Adam West also drove J&J's in the event.
WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY
Doug Esh was headed to a sure win with a huge lead two weeks ago at Williams Grove Speedway when he blew a motor with two laps to go and handed the win to Niki Young. Last Friday night, Esh turned it all around to record his first career Williams Grove Speedway 410 sprint car win in style driving the #30 J&J.
"I knew we could win here," said Esh. "Last week I thought we had it covered but I had to work for it I guess."
Just past the halfway point was when it got interesting as Esh quickened aboard his No. 30 J&J. It was in traffic that the former 358-sprint standout made a hair-raising move in the first corner to steal second from Darren Eash by squeezing his mount between the inside rail and Eash's gold machine. Esh promptly then yanked his steering wheel left and slid the whole way up the racetrack to assume second.
As it turned out, that was the winning move as he then quickly tracked down Weibley in traffic and took the lead with six remaining to pull away from the field with a stout machine.
"I kept seeing the lapped cars getting in the leaders way and I thought, 'I've driven through these guys enough I should be able to get through them,'" said Esh. "Last week we gave one away, this week we took it. We have struggled and struggled and its nice to finally get this one here. I just drove the wheels off the thing."
The Clinton County Speedway honored the late Ed Shafer with the ninth running of the Ed Shafer Memorial on Friday Night. The 30 lap Memorial was difficult to get started, but once it did Blane Heimbach needed only two laps to race to the lead powering his way to the outside of the top two cars entering turn number three and swept the top spot away as the field exited turn number four.
Heimbach started to encounter lapped traffic on lap number eight, but the lapped traffic did not slow down the Selinsgrove native as he masterfully worked traffic to cruise to his ninth win overall aboard the Middleswarth Chips/Beavertown Block Co./ Salem RV #12 J&J, collecting over $1,500 in prize and lap money.
Trevor Lewis was the star of the show last Saturday night in URC sprint car competition at the New Egypt Speedway. Lewis, who drove the Pat and Cathy Palladino #99 J&J, took the URC competition by storm this past weekend finishing second in the Friday night URC event at the Williams Grove Speedway then scored his third victory of the season and sixth URC career feature win at New Egypt.
In the 25-lap Advance Auto Parts URC Sprint Series feature, Lewis started twelfth and took the lead on lap seventeen in the caution free main event. The URC Saturday night show was also part of the Fred's Trailer Parts Center New Jersey Sprint Series and Trevor Lewis is currently leading that point chase. Chris Coyle finished second in the Bill Turpin/Fred Kennedy owned #56 J&J.
Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove passed current series point leader Chad Layton of Harrisburg on the 10th circuit while driving to his fourth win of the season at Selinsgrove Speedway in Sunday night's 25-lap sprint car main event. The win for Heimbach, at the wheel of the Middleswarth Potato Chips/ Beavertown Block/Creasy Signs No. 12 J&J, was his 13th overall of the 2003 season.
Chad Hill scored his first feature win at Sharon Speedway this season after a 1-1/2 hour rain delay last Saturday night. Hill raced his #44 J&J through and around lapped cars from his fifth place starting position. He took the second spot on lap 23, and by using lapped traffic to his advantage, he made a last corner pass for the win by using the high side of turn 3 and diving to the bottom of turn four for the checkered.
Rookie driver Royal Jones won last Friday's event at El Paso Speedway Park driving the #131 J&J. Jones won his heat race by a by a straight away, but was disqualified for going to the scales the wrong direction. He started the feature 19th with 12 laps to go he was in the lead. He went on to win the race and lapping up to the eighth place car.