Fast Talkers: Knoxville Nationals Knoxville, IA--August 5, 2006 -- For the last 45 years, the best sprint car drivers in the world have descended upon Knoxville Raceway for the Knoxville Nationals. This year will be no different, as the 46th ...
Fast Talkers: Knoxville Nationals
Knoxville, IA--August 5, 2006 -- For the last 45 years, the best sprint car drivers in the world have descended upon Knoxville Raceway for the Knoxville Nationals. This year will be no different, as the 46th Annual Edition of the most prestigious event in sprint car racing history kicks off on Wednesday evening. The World of Outlaws Sprint Series drivers will be taking part in the action, led by current championship point leader Donny Schatz who has 10 wins on the season. Joining the point leader will be Joey Saldana who has seven wins, including his second Kings Royal. Saldana will do battle on the always fast half-mile where he won a race on June 23. He is second in points. Before making the trip to Knoxville, the Mean 15 took a couple of minutes to share their thoughts on the biggest race of the year.
Becca Anderson, driver of the No. 19 Upstate Kenworth Maxim
"It's one of those things where you go in and hope the luck is on your side. If you've had any bad luck, you hope it's all gone by then. Being a rookie at the Knoxville Nationals, we would like to make the A-Main, but we'll do the best we can do. This year was the first time I had ever been to Knoxville, so getting some laps under me will definitely help. You try not to let it (the large number of cars) get you down or intimidate you. You just go at it as another race, and run the car as hard as you can. Hopefully everything falls your way. The history of the event in unbelievable and the people that have won it. That (history and prestige) makes it a little bit tough to concentrate on what is going on, that is for sure."
Jeremy Campbell, driver of the No. 10c Americas Best Values Inn/G-Force Racing Gear Maxim
"It's an awesome event. Last year was the first year that I made it. Hopefully I can do it again this year. We'll be strong, I know that. There are so many cars out there, that when you make the show, you look back at how many cars were there, and think, 'Hey I finished in front of all those guys.' It's a real good show, and the most exciting one all season. It's also the most important show. Last year when I made the race that made my whole year. Last year was one of my worst years, and at the Nationals we did and that made me feel happy about the whole year."
Brian Carlson, driver of the No. 18 Lincoln Electric Maxim
"Even though it is not a points race, it is still the biggest race of the year, and it pays very well. We'll do our very best and try to put together a new car. Out better motor right now is getting freshened. It will be ready for that race. Everybody brings their good stuff and you have to get you're 'A-Game' on for Knoxville. You see how you compare with the very best from across the whole country, because they will all be there...The history of the track is special, as well as the event. Just look at the list of winners. Joey's dad (Joe Saldana) has won the thing, and there are other guys back through the years. What a legacy. The best drivers in the country have won that race. Wing and non-wing, back when they started it was modified type of cars. It's really a neat race with a great tradition behind it."
Craig Dollansky, driver of the No. 7 Karavan Trailers/Team Race Chic Maxim
"It's definitely the biggest event of the year. We're looking forward to going there. We have a lot of preparation going on now, getting ready for the event. There's no doubt at the end of that event that you want the first place trophy. We've come close there a few times. Third is the best finish we have had there a few times. We're going in there with everything that we got, and hopefully we can come out in first place this year. There's definitely a whole different atmosphere at the Knoxville Nationals. There are a lot of great fans. Of course, you have all the best teams from around the world there competing. There's a lot of teams and you have to have a little luck on your side for things to go well for the weekend. It's a pretty exciting format they have there for the race fans. It's definitely a big event and one we always enjoy going to."
Randy Hannagan, driver of the No. 1x Penthouse Magazines Maxim
"It's definitely the biggest race of the year. We're getting geared up, and usually run pretty decent at Knoxville. Going there means the downside of the year is coming and maybe that is a good thing too. With the heat, and the traveling and as many races as we've had this year, maybe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel...It means you are in the best company in sprint car history. That's the best there is, at this particular time. If you can run good and make the show, you're definitely one of the top-24...I'd pay the guys if I got to win the Knoxville Nationals. That's something that very few people get to do in their careers. If I got to win that deal, I would give the money back."
Jac Haudenschild, driver of the No. 35 Wright One Construction Maxim
"Everybody definitely wants to win the Knoxville Nationals. It's the biggest race of the year with the most money, and that makes it nice too. It's the biggest race, all the way around...It would mean a lot to win it. I've been racing for years and that is the biggest race there is. Everybody wants to win the biggest race, and it would mean everything...The Rick Wright car has been going pretty good this year, and the guys have been working really hard, to get the car going with the Nationals coming up. Hopefully we can get her going in the qualifying race and get a good spot."
Justin Henderson, driver of the (No. D1 Jolt Energy Gum/Protected By Data Dots Schnee powered by Hollywood Racing Engines
"It's the biggest race of the year. We're trying to gain a little momentum here in the races before Knoxville...To make the show would be huge for us, we haven't yet. Last year we were close and fell a little short at the end. To make the A-Main would mean a lot to us. From that point we could aim for a top-10 finish."
Dion Hindi, driver of the No. 11D RealTruck.com/SniperTuning J&J
"We haven't run there for about seven years. Going back this year, we have really good engines for it and really good race cars for it. I'm pretty excited about it. The money is a bonus on that thing. I know everybody always says you can keep the money, but we can all use the money. It is secondary. We race for the race and not necessarily for the money. You try to treat it as just another race, but as much as you tell yourself it's just another race, it's not. With all the names that have won it, that's the one race we work all year for. After that race, it's all kind of icing. That race is what we're working for all year to get there."
Chad Kemenah, driver of the No. 15K Underground Utilities Inc. Eagle
"We always look forward to going out to Knoxville, and the last couple years it has treated us pretty fair. Hopefully we can get it to treat us that way again this year. I'd give up everything to say that I have won the thing. Don't get me wrong, the money is nice. Winning the Knoxville Nationals is something totally different. We've been close and ran second a few years ago and fifth last year. Hopefully we can improve a little bit. It takes a lot of luck. If luck goes your way, you have to capitalize on the thing and stay up there. We've been luck here the last few years. Not only have we put ourselves in a position to run good, but we have run good. That says a lot about the team."
Jason Martin, driver of the No. 36 NOS Energy Drink/Mafia Motorsports Maxim
"We're really pumped up about it. Everyone will have new paint schemes and different looking cars. It's a lot of hype to go there. I've never been to the 410-Nationals, so I am pretty excited to try it out...The money kind of goes out the window. It pays a lot if you win it or even make the show. If you make the show, a lot of people recognize you nationwide and worldwide. That's what we're looking for...It's amazing how many good cars are there. In the last four or five years, it's so tough. The format is tough and you have to pass a lot of good cars. Quick time starts at the back, and it is hard to make some moves. It should be pretty exciting."
Terry McCarl, driver of the No. 24 Big Game Treestands/Bosma Poultry/AmeriCash Advance.com Eagle
"Every driver wants to win that race. It's the biggest race at the best facility in the world. People talk about the money and this and that. For me I have been going there since I was a kid in the wooden grandstands. It means a lot more for being from Iowa. Believe it or not, no Iowa driver has ever won the race. That makes it even more special for someone from Iowa. I owe my team, so if I win it, the money will gone by about Tuesday. I just want that trophy and my name up on the plaque when you walk in. That will be there forever. That is the most important thing to us. We sat on the pole a couple of years ago, and I was first Iowan since 1980 to sit on the pole. Again, we'd like to be the first Iowan to win it."
Daryn Pittman, driver of the No. 21 Titan Garages & Carports/ Hop-n-Sack Convenience Stores Maxim
"You're always pumped for it, but the nerves are always wound up this time of the year as well. Luckily when you are running good the nerves can calm themselves better than when you are not. The main goal for our team is to go in as relaxed as possible, and to do what we have been doing the last couple of months. If that happens then we know we will have a respectable showing and give ourselves a chance to be up front. That's the biggest thing, to stay calm and do things right and not make mistakes. It's a nerve racking time for everyone, not just the drivers. It takes a lot out of everybody and you have to be on your game that is for sure."
Joey Saldana, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Mopar-powered/Curb Records JEI
"The best of the best will be there, and if you can win there, that is a big feat. Hopefully we can duplicate our run we had there earlier this year. It would be nice to win the Knoxville Nationals. Anyone that wins a race that pays more than they usually win, it usually does not sink in until about a week or two later. Most of the times, it's about the win. You're not going to win if you are thinking about the money. The money is just extra. If you're a real racer, and I'm sure most of the drives out here will say they're racing for the win. Then a few days later or a couple weeks, you realize that is paid pretty well. I'm sure that anybody that wins that race this year, will not be racing for the money...It would be huge for me to win. My dad had a lot of shots at winning that race, and always had problems. He finally got it done in 1970. In my mind, I was always shooting to be the first father and son to do it. I thought that would be awesome, but Kraig Kinser beat me to it. Now I can just focus on winning the race, and not doing something my dad did. If we can win the race, I will be tickled to death."
Donny Schatz, driver of the No. 15 ParkerStore J&J
"We try to win them all. It is one that we have come very close to. We have gotten the taste of victory, but always had the disappointment of being right there but no cigar. It is sprint car racing's 'Great American Race,' there's no question about it. It's the best of the best and everyone is there. The fan following is just great. It is one big long week and when it is done, you kind of feel glad that it's done, but you strive on the adrenaline the whole time it is happening. With everything good comes something bad and it's always been a good week for us, it's just bad it has to come to an end on Saturday. Hopefully we can get that machine up there and park it in victory lane. The pay is something that is kind of standard for how big of an event it is and how many people they have there. Like I said it's the 'Great American Race' for sprint cars. The trophy and the prestige is what the guys are really racing for, but the money if what keeps the teams going. It has definitely helped our team out the last four or five years. We're excited to get there and we're glad it's close. We're prepared and no holds barred next week."
Brooke Tatnell, driver of the No. 8 Race Outfitters/Castrol/Steel Dreams Eagle
"It's definitely the biggest event of the year. It has so much prestige and pride behind it, as well as the nostalgia of all the past champions. It's something everyone strives to win in their career. Some guys have had more a lion's share of winning it, but I think this year will be the dawning of a new era. I think it will be the toughest and most fierce Knoxville Nationals ever...The money really doesn't mean that much to me. To have my name on that pedestal with the past champions that they have there is what I want. The money definitely pays the bills and gets the car up and down the highway. It makes the drivers live a little easier, and the wives can go and spend the money. To me it is all about the honor and prestige of the Knoxville Nationals."