DONNY SCHATZ TOPS KNOXVILLE NATIONALS STANDINGS Danny Lasoski Dominates A-main on Second Qualifying Night KNOXVILLE, IA -- August 10, 2007 -- Donny Schatz is in the perfect position to defend his championship in the 47th Annual Knoxville ...
DONNY SCHATZ TOPS KNOXVILLE NATIONALS STANDINGS
Danny Lasoski Dominates A-main on Second Qualifying Night
KNOXVILLE, IA -- August 10, 2007 -- Donny Schatz is in the perfect position to defend his championship in the 47th Annual Knoxville Nationals, but it didn't come easy.
When Schatz needed a near perfect run in time trials on Friday as one of the final cars to hit the half-mile Knoxville Raceway after to the top two times came from the first two cars in the 55-car field, he pulled off the fifth fastest time. When he started dead last in his fully inverted 10-car heat race, he surged through the field to win. And when lined up eighth for the A-main he came charged to second behind Danny Lasoski's dominating run from the pole.
The moves put Schatz atop the standings going into the final day of competition at sprint car racing's biggest event, worth $150,000 to the winner. Schatz and his ParkerStore team finishes the qualifying rounds with 490 points, seven more than the opening night total compiled by Paul McMahan, who winds up second in points with Joey Saldana third followed by Craig Dollansky and Stevie Smith.
"This deal gets tougher every year," said Schatz, who won his first Knoxville title last year after finishing second four times. "This race team, every time it gets something thrown at it seems to tackle it. They were disappointed with the pill draw, but the harder you have to work to earn it, the more pride there is when it's all said and done. We did it the hard way in qualifying and everything from then on was gravy. These nights are all about points. We wanted to win that race, but Danny got too far out front. We kind of ran him down but there wasn't enough time and the racetrack changed. -- This is the Nationals. Every point, every position, everything you do counts on the racetrack."
Lasoski salvaged his chances to win his fifth Knoxville Nationals championship when he powered his Roth Motorsports JEI the top of the track in the main event for a convincing victory in the green-to-checkered 25-lap A-main. In fact, he beat Schatz to the finish by 4.260 seconds.
"I knew Schatz would be coming but I had no idea we'd be that dominant," said Lasoski, who is seeking his fifth Knoxville Nationals title. "It just goes to show you my guys never quit. We had a motor laying down on us early so they went and changed it, plus this was the first time I've driven a JEI car here. It was really operating nice. I'm just the lucky guy who gets to drive this racecar. From digging ourselves a whole in qualifying, we dug ourselves out pretty well."
Jason Solwold finished third in the A-main, followed by Chad Kemenah, Jason Sides, Dollansky and Daryn Pittman as World of Outlaws drivers grabbed the top seven spots in the Friday night feature.
For Solwold and his Citywide Insulation team, it's a continuation of the strong runs they've turned in during the past month, including last week's victory at Charter Raceway Park in the SuperClean Summer of Money finale.
"We're late bloomers I think," said Solwold, of Mt. Vernon, Wash. "We've just been working on it pretty hard and keeping ourselves motivated. I gave away a lot of races this year so we're trying to get those back."
Should Dollansky capture his first Knoxville championship on Saturday, he might need to spread some of the winnings around to several teams. Dollansky nearly lost his shot at the overall title when he was caught in a huge wreck in the first corner of his heat race. Crew members and drivers from five different teams thrashed to put his Karavan machine back together, seemingly rebuilding the car in the work area during the red flag. After restarting from the rear of the field, Dollansky charged to a third-place finish in the heat to transfer to the A-main, where he ran sixth. All of those moves -- combined with time trials -- have Dollansky sitting fourth overall out of the 105 cars attempting to win the Knoxville Nationals championship.
"With the format the way it is and the points system, you have to try to get everything you can get," said Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn. "That's where they try to build the excitement, in the heat races. A lot of people say that the heat races are the things to watch over the A-main. When you get a total invert like that, you have to make some things happen quick. I can't thank my crew and those other crews and drivers enough who helped get us back in the show."
Tim Shaffer and Jason Martin were the first two cars to hit the track in time trials and they made it count as they topped the speed charts. Shaffer circled the half-mile in 15 seconds flat while Martin timed in at 15.11 seconds.
"Qualifying means so much at the Knoxville Nationals," said Shaffer, of Aliquippa, Pa. "For some reason the track slowed down as the night went on and the guys gave me a great car."
For Martin, a new motor was the key to not only his time on Friday night, but also his trip to the Nationals. Had it not been for the motor, Martin most likely would have gone home to Liberal, Kan., to prepare for the rest of the World of Outlaws season. After making it into the feature on Friday night, Martin earned enough points for an A-main start on Saturday and a shot at the $150,000 top prize.
"We got this motor together last week and we weren't even going to run the Nationals unless we had this motor," said Martin, of Liberal, Kan. "It's turned out to be a pretty good deal."
On Saturday, the last chance events and the scrambles to set up the starting positions in the A-main will run beginning at noon, with the main action set to air live on SPEED beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern.