Knoxville Nationals: Friday Scramble/Non-Qualifiers report

Lasoski claims Knoxville Nationals pole position. KNOXVILLE, IA (August 9) - Youngsters Tyler Walker, P.J. Chesson and Donny Schatz won Friday's races, but Danny Lasoski won the battle for the pole. "The Dude," the defending Pennzoil World of...

Lasoski claims Knoxville Nationals pole position.

KNOXVILLE, IA (August 9) - Youngsters Tyler Walker, P.J. Chesson and Donny Schatz won Friday's races, but Danny Lasoski won the battle for the pole.

"The Dude," the defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion, wasn't sure if he would be able to race in the 42nd Annual Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals after various injuries kept him out of the #20 J.D. Byrider Eagle for two weeks. Knoxville Raceway is Lasoski's home track, so he was determined to defend his Nationals title.

"There's only one big one and this is it," said Lasoski, who will start on the pole in the Nationals for the third time in the last four years. "I'm not about to miss this race. I don't feel any better than I did last night. I saw the track with all the rubber on it and I didn't think we'd be able to pass, so I thought it would be best to save those 16 laps (in the Kele World Challenge) for my body. The way Schatz came from the back to win it, I guess I should have run it."

Speed Channel taped all the action for a September 26th telecast scheduled to start at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.

Lasoski raced past Joey Saldana and Daryn Pittman in the O'Reilly's Auto Parts "A" Scramble, however, to gain the pole position in Saturday's 30-lap championship feature. "The Dude," a two-time winner of sprint car racing's premier event, scored 503 points, three more than Steve Kinser and Saldana. Kinser, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader and winner of 11 Nationals championships, received the outside pole position because he beat Saldana to the finish line in the "A" Scramble. "The King of the Outlaws" and Lasoski have exchanged the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points lead nine times this season.

Walker received the third row inside starting position in the main event by winning the "A" Scramble from the pole, beating Kinser under the checkered flag by 2.7 seconds.

"The Nationals is always tough," said Walker, who celebrated the victory with a pair of cartwheel-back flip-round offs. "We got some more track time in this race and we learned a lot. Hopefully that will help us.

"The big race is 30 laps. If you're good, you're good - you can win it. If you miss it, you're going to be in the back."

Chesson celebrated his Non-Qualifiers' "A" Feature victory by turning doughnuts on the front straightaway. Chesson passed Kinser's son, Kraig, late in the ninth lap and beat Knoxville's Larry Ball, Jr., across the finish line by .922 seconds. The $3,000 victory, Chesson's first at Knoxville Raceway, put him inside the sixth row in Saturday's "C" Feature.

"I was just poking it around and moving around and going," Chesson said. "The car was nice. I just wish this was tomorrow night."

Schatz, who started on the pole in last year's Nationals championship feature, pulled off a last-lap pass of Chesson to defend his Kele World Championship title. The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J to the $10,000 victory from outside the seventh row.

"P.J. did a great job there," Schatz said. "I didn't think I was going to get him. I figured I should pull that big slider since it was the white-flag lap. My guys worked really hard. I was disappointed after the "A" Scramble for losing two spots (back to seventh). It really doesn't help for tomorrow night, but this sure helps for the rest of tonight. To win this two years in a row, it's really exciting, and I hope to come back and win some more."

When asked if he knew Schatz was gaining on him during the final lap, Chesson said, "I don't know, but he went by me awfully quickly, so I didn't suffer very long."

Randy Hannagan won the O'Reilly Auto Parts "B" Scramble and Jeff Swindell won the "C" Scramble. Hannagan, who finished ninth in last year's Nationals "A" Feature, will start inside the fifth row in Saturday's "B" Feature. Swindell, driving the #6S Goodson Farms car in only his fourth event, will start on the pole in the "C" Feature.

"We learned a lot about tire choice tonight," Hannagan, the Rookie of the Nationals in 1994 said. "We messed up on the car quite a bit last night. We didn't finish where we wanted to, but we did this time."

Swindell, racing in his 24th Nationals, is competing in his first Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series event in 2 ½ years.

"It's gotten a lot tougher to come from behind than it used to be," Swindell said. "The competition is a lot tougher now. Technology has gotten ahead of me a little bit."

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Tyler Walker , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Randy Hannagan , P.J. Chesson