Amoco Knoxville Nationals opener, August 9th

'The King' Takes First Nationals Preliminary By Richard Day KNOXVILLE, IA (August 9) -- Steve Kinser knows what it takes to win the Amoco Knoxville Nationals. He proved that in 11 of his first 18 ...

'The King' Takes First Nationals Preliminary By Richard Day KNOXVILLE, IA (August 9) -- Steve Kinser knows what it takes to win the Amoco Knoxville Nationals. He proved that in 11 of his first 18 appearances in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' premier event. "The toughest part of the Amoco Knoxville Nationals is getting yourself in a position to win it," Kinser said before winning the Preliminary Feature Wednesday when the 40th Annual Amoco Knoxville Nationals opened at Knoxville Raceway. "So many things can happen along the way. Qualifying is important and you can't relax in the heat races. The preliminary night feature is as tough as any all season, and you go through that just to make Saturday's race. The goal is to be in the top three rows, and with the caliber of cars we compete against, you can't get that far behind and still make it up." Despite a disappointing showing in qualifying, "The King of the Outlaws" won the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race from inside the fourth row, then passed 11 cars to win the First Preliminary Feature. "We have a really good race car," Kinser said. "I just fell asleep in qualifying. That could kill us. We came back and made a good recovery. We won our heat and won the feature. At least we're in the show. It's 30 laps and we're going to try to get there (win)." Kinser "got there" from outside the seventh row in 1995, the last time he won the Amoco Knoxville Nationals. Kinser was the 18th-fastest qualifier in the 67-car field, .386 seconds off Dean Jacobs' Vivarin Fast-Time Award-winning lap. He passed cars early and often to win the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race, however. Dale Blaney drove the #93 Amoco Maxim into the lead as the green flag fell in the 20-lap Preliminary Feature, only to have Tim Shaffer spin and collect Manny Rockhold and Jason Statler between turns three and four late in the opening lap. Blaney raced away from the 22-car field again when the green flag replaced the red. Kinser, the leader in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings, drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim into fourth place during the first three laps. He and 1983 Amoco Knoxville Nationals champion Sammy Swindell battled through every corner of Knoxville's legendary half-mile oval through the next seven laps. The fierce rivals came close to colliding and Kinser almost spun while trying to pass Sammy late in the eighth lap. "The King of the Outlaws" came back to pass Swindell midway through the race. Sammy's daring, last-lap pass of Brad Furr in turn four on the final lap of the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race kept him from having to race in the "B" Feature. Blaney was a half-straightaway ahead of Johnny Herrera when he entered lapped traffic during the sixth lap. He was slowing in dense lapped traffic when Kinser passed Herrera high in the first corner early in lap 12. "The King of the Outlaws" beat Blaney down the back straightaway to take the lead two laps later. Kinser was racing away from the field when Andy Hillenburg passed Swindell for fourth place with 4 1/2 laps remaining. At the same time, Blaney and Herrera battled for the runner-up spot and First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Donny Schatz started racing toward the front. Kinser enjoyed a comfortable advantage when he took the white flag. Schatz, who hired Kenny Woodruff as his new crew chief before the Nationals, passed Blaney in the fourth corner for second place. He was 2.058 seconds behind when Kinser took the checkered flag. "We probably had a better race car than Steve, but we made some wrong moves," Schatz said. "You can't do that Saturday night. There was a top groove and a bottom groove, and you just had to choose where you wanted to run. I like second place when you can't win, but this is the third year in a row I've run second on a preliminary night. I think it's time we won the Nationals." Hillenburg, who started inside the sixth row, finished in fourth place. Swindell finished fifth, ahead of Randy Hannagan, Herrera, Jacobs, Fourth NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Jeff Shepard and Brian Paulus. Randy Hannagan won the "B" Feature, then drove his brother Terry's #1x TH Racing sprinter past 15 cars in the evening's main event. Shaffer drove the #11H Vivarin Eagle into 12th place after his first-lap crash put him at the rear of the field. WoO

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Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Tim Shaffer , Brad Furr , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Dean Jacobs , Randy Hannagan , Johnny Herrera , Jason Statler