KNOXVILLE, IA - Blake Feese knew he wanted to race sprint cars as long he can remember. The 19 year-old from Saybrook, IL, followed his father into the seat of a sprint car just three years ago and this week, he'll be competing on the largest...
KNOXVILLE, IA - Blake Feese knew he wanted to race sprint cars as long he can remember. The 19 year-old from Saybrook, IL, followed his father into the seat of a sprint car just three years ago and this week, he'll be competing on the largest stage of his career: the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals.
"The Nationals is a huge deal to me and I can't thank the Penders and Brian for letting me drive one of their cars even though it looks like Brian will be able to drive too," said Feese. "I'm sure I'll be nervous and the butterflies will be there when I go to make my qualifying laps, but once the car fires they usually go away. Hopefully, this week they just go away quick."
Feese will be driving one of the P and P Motorsports #28 "Salad Car" sprinters in the 41st running of the Nationals. He helped fill the seat in the Verdelli Farms Maxim the last two weeks while co-owner and driver Brian Paulus recovered from a wrist injury he suffered in June at Bristol Motor Speedway. The first two weeks have been a learning experience for Feese as he made his debut at Williams Grove Speedway and Hagerstown Speedway and appeared in his first Historical Big One weekend at Eldora in the #28. There have been some highlights, but not enough for Feese to feel good about his first stint with the Outlaws.
"The more I run this car the better we'll get," said Feese. "No matter what, no two cars are the same. The more we can run the better our chemistry will be. The competition is so tough, but I'm confident in the equipment that we have. I know the car and motor will be strong, so a lot of it will be up to me."
Feese was able to get this ride partly because of his success earlier this season in Kenny Mulligan's #3 sprint car. Feese drove the car in the Winternationals at East Bay and also finished 9th in his first race at Bristol. That success has allowed the youngster to get some national exposure, but he also has been getting laps in his family-owned #1f around the Midwest. He has raced with Pennzoil World of Outlaws in his home state of Illinois while also challenging the All-Stars during the Ohio Speedweek. Those races have helped Feese gain more experience, but he's only raced at Knoxville a handful of times.
"I don't have a ton of laps at Knoxville, and our goal is to make the "A" on Saturday night," said Feese. "Pressure wise, usually no one puts more pressure on me than myself. I'm getting to the point where I can kind of control that somewhat also. I'm hoping to treat it like any other night of racing, but in the back of my mind I will know how important my qualifying night is at Knoxville."
Winning the "Rookie of the Nationals" will be difficult, but Feese knows the driver that can put the best weekend together will end up on top. One of his competitors for this award will be a familiar one, Kraig Kinser. Steve Kinser's oldest son and Feese have been racing each other for quite a few years and both seem to enjoy racing one another.
"We've been battling each other since our days in mini-sprints," claimed Feese. "I really like racing with Kraig and if I can't win the Rookie of the Nationals, I want him to win it. I get along with him just about as good as I do with any other driver, and I really like racing against him. You know he's going to be racing at the top someday and I just hope to be there, too."
Feese's journey to winning the 2001 "Rookie of the Nationals" honors will begin on Wednesday night. If he can put together a good qualifying night and finish respectably on Saturday night, he may help his chances of becoming a full-time racer.
"This is a great opportunity for me and winning the Rookie of the Nationals would certainly look good on my resume," said Feese. "The list of winners is pretty impressive and most of them are on the Outlaw tour, so winning the Rookie of the Nationals would definitely be a step in the right direction."