NST: Knoxville Nationals - Lasoski NST spotlight

Lasoski looks for more success at Knoxville Nationals There's an easy way to get a warm smile out of Danny Lasoski. All you have to do is mention the words "1998 Knoxville Nationals" and 'The Dude' lights up like a Christmas tree. Lasoski's...

Lasoski looks for more success at Knoxville Nationals

There's an easy way to get a warm smile out of Danny Lasoski.

All you have to do is mention the words "1998 Knoxville Nationals" and 'The Dude' lights up like a Christmas tree.

Lasoski's success at the 0x00bd-mile Knoxville Raceway is well-documented. To date, he has 88 feature wins at the famed Iowa dirt track. Before becoming a touring driver, Lasoski won seven track titles at Knoxville.

And then there are the four Knoxville National crowns, the first of which came in 1998 when Lasoski was in his first year of driving the Roth Motorsports entry owned by Dennis and Teresa Roth. The pairing led to 34 wins over a three year period, including that first Knoxville title.

"THAT was special," Lasoski said fondly of the 1998 win. "To me, that 1998 win is the highlight of my career, and it is the highlight of Dennis' career. I've been fortunate to win the race again since, but there's nothing that compares to your first."

After driving the Roth entry for three seasons, Lasoski moved to the Tony Stewart Motorsports operation. Though there were certainly some high points including three more Knoxville National titles, bitter feelings last season led to a well-publicized falling out.

"It's no secret that last year was a disaster for us," Lasoski said. "But I always have the desire to be the best. We were third at the Nationals last year, and the way our season was going, that was a moral victory for us."

For 2006, Lasoski reunited with Roth Motorsports. Though the team is totally new compared to who was there in 2000, the Roths are still on board.

"Dennis and Teresa are more like family than car owners to me," Lasoski said. "Long after I step out of the cockpit, I hope it stays that way. We stayed good friends over the years, even when I was no longer driving for them."

Throughout the season, Lasoski has talked about the importance of having a team that believes in him, and vice versa.

The results speak for themselves: Lasoski leads the NST points and notched his seventh win of the season Sunday in Hagerstown, Md. More impressively, Lasoski has finished in the top-10 in all 28 races this year but one.

As great as the season has been for Lasoski and the Roth outfit, he considers it merely a warm-up.

"I've heard others say it and I agree: every race we run prior to Knoxville is just practice," Lasoski said. "There is only one race, and that's Knoxville."

Lasoski is at a lost to explain his continued success over the years at Knoxville, where the 46th annual Super Clean Knoxville Nationals take place Saturday evening. Racing kicks off Wednesday night with qualifying races.

"I really don't know," Lasoski said when asked to explain his success there. "I watched races there as a kid. Knoxville has the greatest fans in the world, and it's the greatest facility in the world. It's the best run place from A-Z."

Traditionally, Knoxville has rewarded drivers and teams with plenty of experience around the high banks.

"Experience plays a factor at every track," Lasoski said. "Just look at the Pennsylvania races with guys like Lance Dewease and Fred Rahmer. But Knoxville has a tire rule, so there's no real advantage."

Though the Knoxville Nationals is the biggest Sprint car race in the world, Lasoski said his team's approach won't waver from the usual.

"Most fans know everybody brings their best stuff for that race," Lasoski said. "You've got to have luck on your side. For us, it's a regular race weekend."

As such, Lasoski doesn't draw extra confidence for this weekend based on past success at Knoxville.

"We feel like we'll be a factor at any track we go to," Lasoski said. "The confidence has been there all year, no matter what track we're at."

Whenever the big summer races like Knoxville approach, thoughts of the 1998 Knoxville Nationals float in Lasoski's mind.

"It's real hard not to think about it when the month of money comes up," Lasoski said. "There's nothing that compares to that."

-credit: nst

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Series Sprint
Drivers Tony Stewart , Danny Lasoski