Three World of Outlaws Champions Prepared for 47th Annual Knoxville Nationals Three current World of Outlaws drivers have stood on top of the podium following the Knoxville Nationals and have had the privilege to celebrate a win in sprint car ...
Three World of Outlaws Champions Prepared for 47th Annual Knoxville Nationals
Three current World of Outlaws drivers have stood on top of the podium following the Knoxville Nationals and have had the privilege to celebrate a win in sprint car racing's biggest event. In fact all three drivers are former World of Outlaws champions. They all will have a chance this week to add another trophy to their mantel as well as take home the record $150,000 that the winner will receive in the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Iowa, which runs from August 8-11.
Leading this list is 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, who has won the Knoxville Nationals a record 12 times, followed by 2001 World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski who has four Knoxville Nationals triumphs and reigning World of Outlaws champion and Knoxville winner Donny Schatz who won the event last season for the first time in his career.
Kinser's first win in the SuperClean Knoxville Nationals came over 25 years ago in 1980 and his most recent triumph was in 2002. The 20-time World of Outlaws champion has led 302 laps in his career at the storied event, the most of any driver. He has 23 career Top-10 finishes in the race, which is the best of any driver. Kinser has led the event six times from start-to-finish. He and his son Kraig are also the only father and son duo to have won sprint car racing's biggest event.
"It is definitely the "Granddaddy" of sprint car races," said Kinser, driver of the Q Oil Maxim. "It's the biggest event and the biggest paying purse and the biggest event of the year. When you get out there it definitely makes it special, when you see the place filling up and the atmosphere that is going on there."
Kinser enters the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals with eight A-Feature wins on the season with the World of Outlaws. He is fifth in championship points on the strength of 35 Top-10 finishes. He will take to the track for the first time on Thursday, August 9 on the second qualifying night.
"A win at Knoxville can turn a bad season into a better season," he noted. "We'll go out there and throw out what we can at them and hope for the best."
After four runner-up finishes, Schatz finally captured the coveted trophy for winning sprint car racing's biggest event last season. He battled Joey Saldana early in the race, trading the lead a couple of times, before taking command late in the event to earn the biggest win of his career and a $140,000 payday.
"To go back as the defending champion of the series and the Nationals is a good feeling," said Schatz, driver of the ParkerStore J&J. "We got all of that weight off of our shoulders. We won it and know what its like to win and now we want to see if we can do it again."
While the racing on the track takes constant focus and intensity, Schatz enjoys the time away from the track during the week of the Knoxville Nationals as well. Fans from across the country and around the world visit Knoxville for the events on and off the track and Schatz is able to catch up with many of them during some of his free time. His first on-track activity will come on Wednesday, August 8 during the first of two qualifying nights that split the drivers into a pair of groups.
"It's a fun week," share the native of Fargo, North Dakota. "We get to see people from all over the country and all the fans. It's a big and intense week, but it's full of fun."
Schatz heads to Knoxville in the midst of another very stellar season, as he chases his seconds straight World of Outlaws title. He leads the World of Outlaws championship standings on the strength of 13 A-Feature wins and 48 Top-10 finishes. He has led the most laps of any driver following the series and also is the leading money winner. He would like nothing more than to repeat his performance of last season at the famed half-mile and he knows that will be no easy task.
"It's been in my favor a number of times, where I have been the guy to beat there," said the always focused driver. "We hope to go back there this week with our game face on and be ready to roll."
Danny Lasoski is the last driver to win back-to-back Knoxville Nationals. He accomplished that feat in 2003 and 2004. He won his first Knoxville Nationals back in 1998 and also was victorious in 2001. The native of Dover, Missouri is a seven-time track champion at Knoxville and is the winningest driver in the storied history of the track with 88 victories.
"Going there is very special to me," said Lasoski, driver of the Roth Motorsports JEI. "Knoxville is home. I think Knoxville Raceway is the best rack in the world. I am excited to go there. There are a lot of things that go on with the Nationals."
Lasoski enters the event third in the World of Outlaws championship standings on the strength of three A-Feature wins and 39 Top-10 finishes. Being a veteran of the sport, he is quick to point out that the Knoxville Nationals, even though it is the biggest event of the year, has to be treated like any of the other of the nearly 100 races he and his team will compete in this season. He will take part in the first qualifying night on Wednesday, August 8.
"I think they biggest thing is to not get overly pumped up," he explained. "I treat like I do every other race. I wanted to win as bad at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) last weekend as I do at Knoxville this weekend."
With a record $150,000 on the line for the winner from a record purse of over $900,000, Lasoski would like nothing more than to take home the big check at the end of the night. Having won the event four times in his career, he is quick to point out the prestige that comes from winning sprint car racing's biggest event and how that easily over shadows the winner's paycheck.
"It's fantastic that Ralph Capitani and the Knoxville Fair Board have put up that kind of money for us to win, but I think anyone you ask in the pit area, the first thing they will say is they want the trophy," he said.
The 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals run from August 8-11 and the finale can be seen live on SPEED beginning at 9 p.m. Central on Saturday, August 11.