Rahmer Captures Feature on Knoxville Nationals First Qualifying Night Knoxville, IA -- August 10, 2005 -- Every driver says it takes a lot of luck to win the Knoxville Nationals, but Fred Rahmer made his own fortune Wednesday night in the...
Rahmer Captures Feature on Knoxville Nationals First Qualifying Night
Knoxville, IA -- August 10, 2005 -- Every driver says it takes a lot of luck to win the Knoxville Nationals, but Fred Rahmer made his own fortune Wednesday night in the opener to this year's 45th running of sprint car racing's premier event.
He was trailing 12-time Nationals champion Steve Kinser with three laps to go when something suddenly went awry on Kinser's car and it shot hard into the wall in Turn 3, bringing out a red flag.
Rahmer, who had led earlier when pole-sitter Tim Kaeding went out with what appeared to be motor trouble, slipped back in front with Tim Shaffer, Chad Kemenah and Lance Dewease right behind. But then Kemenah got a break when Shaffer had to pit for a flat tire that appeared to go down after he raced through the debris from Kinser's crash.
When the green flag waved with three to go, Rahmer was too strong for Kemenah. Rahmer, who won the Summer Nationals title last month at Williams Grove, drove through the middle of the track while Kemenah tried the bottom groove. Rahmer pulled away just enough to pick up the victory, with Kemenah in second followed by Dewease, Wayne Johnson, Randy Hannagan, Donny Schatz and Brian Paulus, who led time trials and emerged from opening night with the highest point total.
Rahmer, a Pennsylvania racing legend, had called his Summer Nationals victory the biggest of his career until last night.
"That was big, but this is way bigger because I don't run here much and it feels pretty good," said Rahmer, of Salfordville, Pa. "I'm pretty happy tonight. When you come once a year to the toughest event, the odds of winning are slim to none. We were lucky enough to sneak in tonight.
"There's more luck involved in this race than any race we go to all year. If you draw a bad number, you're in trouble. If you draw a bad heat, you're in trouble. If you do good in time trials, you're in the back and in trouble. You need more luck here than any race we run all year long. You just hope all the stars line up when it's your time."
Of course, it can't always be luck. Rahmer consistently had himself in position to take advantage of others' misfortunes.
"Everybody always says Steve Kinser is the luckiest guy in the world, but he's always in position if the first car drops out. I surely didn't want to see Steve crash. My car felt the best I've ever felt here. It's a shame we didn't have our good motor in. We clogged a nozzle in warm-ups. The other motor is tons better than this one."
Kemenah, who earlier this season picked up his first victory with the World of Outlaws, finished second to Danny Lasoski in the Nationals last year. He ran a smooth feature, keeping his machine in the top-10 and taking advantage of the three Outlaws racers' misfortune down the stretch to grab second.
"When we pull in the pits, no matter where we race or who we race with, we think we have a car that's capable of winning no matter where we go," said Kemenah, of Findlay, Ohio. "We're close. Hopefully for Saturday we can get a little bit closer and get one better than we had here last year. There's nothing wrong with running second at Knoxville.
"The first lap of your heat race is probably the most important to this thing. The format is so tough. If anything happens your week is just crushed. I didn't want to see Steve crash like that at the end or Tim [Kaeding] hurt that motor, but at this game you have to take them no matter how you get them. I don't think anybody had anything for Steve once he got in the lead, but he'll be back."
Two Pennsylvania Posse racers in the top three is a clear indication of how fierce the level of weekly competition is in the Keystone State.
"We race against a really good group of cars," said Dewease, of Fayetteville, Pa. "Fred's a heck of a good racer and a lot of people give him a hard time for not going out and traveling but we race a lot back home. We race more than anybody in the country. Fred and all us Pennsylvania cars try our best everywhere we go. We can race. Everything went right tonight for us, a little bit better for Fred, but we'll take this and get better for Saturday."
Donny Schatz posted the best finish of any of the Mean 15 racers from the World of Outlaws. He was the second-fastest qualifier behind Paulus and wound up tied for the third-highest point total after battling from the 21st starting position in the A-main to finish sixth. With all 10 cars inverted in heat-race action, Schatz started 10th in the second heat but could only work his way to seventh, sending him into the B-main. His recovery in the main event could prove to be crucial come Saturday.
"We definitely needed to be a lot better, but we could be in the same situation [Steve Kinser] is in and that's not where we want to be," said Schatz, a native of Fargo, N.D., who has four A-feature victories this season with the Outlaws. "It was a good night of qualifying. Me and [new crew chief] Ricky [Warner] got a chance to work with the racecar a little bit and try some stuff to see what each other likes. We're happy with our results."
For Paulus, an Outlaws Mean 15 racer from Mechanicsburg, Pa., posting the fastest time of the night carried him to the top of the first-night qualifying points. Like Schatz, Paulus wasn't able to race from the back of his 10-lap heat into a transfer spot, missing by one position.
"We know we can turn two laps here and we know we can run a 35-lap feature," said Paulus, a two-time A-feature winner this season with the Outlaws. "We've struggled a little bit in our heat races. In our heat race, the guys in front of me were too fast in the line that they were in. We got up to the fourth-place car and couldn't do anything with him."
The action continues Thursday night when four-time and defending champion Danny Lasoski begins his quest for a fifth Knoxville Nationals championship. Only seven of the World of Outlaws 18 touring cars competed on the first night of qualifying.
After completing the Nationals Saturday night, the series begins a swing to the West Coast Aug. 16 with a one-night show at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D., before invading Billings Speedway on Aug.19-20 in Billings, Mont.; Grays Harbor Speedway Aug. 26-27 in Elma, Wash.; and Cottage Grove Speedway Aug. 30 in Cottage Grove, Ore.
KNOXVILLE NIGHT ONE NOTEBOOK
* Fred Rahmer won the preliminary A-main Wednesday night at Knoxville Raceway, visiting Victory Lane with the Outlaws for the second time this season after winning the Summer Nationals title July 23 at Williams Grove Speedway. -- Jac Haudenschild won Aug. 5 at Eldora for his first Outlaws victory of the season, making him the 16th different A-feature winner in 2005 and the 20th different winner including preliminary events. -- Steve Kinser earned his series-leading 16th A-feature victory by winning July 30th at Princeton Speedway. Kinser, the Kings Royal winner, also has a preliminary feature victory this season in the Eagle Nationals at Eagle Raceway. -- Kraig Kinser won at Lawrenceburg for his fifth A-feature victory of the season. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. -- Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. -- Donny Schatz also has four A-feature victories, winning most recently on July 8 in Joliet, Ill. -- Tim Shaffer's victory July 19 in the Silver Cup was his third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. -- Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season, and picked up a preliminary feature win in the following race at Red River Valley Speedway. -- Craig Dollansky has won two features, most recently at Powercom Park, and he also has two preliminary feature wins. -- Brooke Tatnell has two A-feature victories, winning at Cedar Lake and Fulton speedways, as well as a preliminary feature win at Princeton Speedway. -- Sammy Swindell won his second A-feature of the season June 4 at Eldora Speedway. Swindell also has a preliminary feature win April 8 at Eldora. -- Single-event winners include Stevie Smith July 13 at Attica Raceway Park, Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Daryn Pittman April 23 at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. -- In preliminary features, Danny Lasoski has won twice while Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan and Jason Johnson have each won once.
* Knoxville Raceway is a half-mile oval. Including preliminary features, the series has raced 25 times this year on half-mile circuits with Steve Kinser winning seven times (Volusia, Eldora three times, Knoxville, Williams Grove and Hartford), Sammy Swindell winning three times (twice at Eldora, once at Hagerstown), Craig Dollansky winning twice (Manzanita and Williams Grove), Kraig Kinser winning twice (Las Vegas, Knoxville), Jason Meyers winning twice (Granite City and Red River Valley), Donny Schatz winning twice (Las Vegas and Route 66 Raceway), Fred Rahmer winning twice (Williams Grove and Knoxville), and Brian Paulus (Red River Valley), Danny Lasoski (Knoxville), Jeff Shepard (Volusia), Jason Johnson (Williams Grove), Paul McMahan (Williams Grove), and Jac Haudenschild (Eldora) each winning once.
* In the B-main, Brian Paulus and Donny Schatz started on the front row and raced side-by-side into the first corner. Schatz edged ahead down the backstretch as the two Mean 15 racers pulled away from the field to transfer into the A-main, along with Stevie Smith and Skip Jackson.
* In the C-main, Greg Hodnett held off the charging Paul McMahan in the first turn as those two raced away from the pack and earned the two transfer spots to the back of the B-main.
* In the first heat, Greg Wilson slipped ahead of Mike Moore with three laps to go as those two held off Geoff Ddoge and Kaley Gharst. Fast qualifier Brian Paulus had worked his way to fifth but ran out of time to slide into the fourth and final transfer spot to Wednesday's A-main.
* In the second heat, Danny Jennings started on the pole and drove out to a big lead while Tim Shaffer charged from seventh to finish second. Tim Kaeding also showed off his horsepower in surging from sixth to third while Lance Dewease held onto the final transfer spot.
* In the third heat, T.J. Stutts led flag-to-flag as Steve Kinser picked up four spots on a furious first-lap charge from the rear of the field. Bob Weuve secured second ahead of Chad Kemenah as Kinser moved into the final transfer spot in only five laps.
* In the fourth heat, Justin Henderson slide into the lead with four laps to go with a move to the inside of Randy Anderson in Turn 4. Henderson pulled away to take the checkered flag with Anderson second, Randy Hannagan third and Luke Cranston fourth. Erin Crocker, the night's fourth-fastest qualifier, wound up eighth.
* In the fifth heat, Fred Rahmer worked his way from eighth to the lead when he passed Mean 15 racer Brandon Wimmer with five to go and motored away from the field. Wimmer held onto second ahead of Roger Crockett and Wayne Johnson.
* Brian Paulus paced the 54 cars that went through time trials with a lap around the half-mile oval in 14.978 seconds. When the Outlaws raced in April at Knoxville, Joey Saldana broke the track record by turning a lap in 14.908 seconds at 120.741 mph. Saldana will qualify on Thursday.
* Beginning at noon on Friday and ending at 3 p.m., fans at Knoxville can vote for the Best Appearing Car and the Best Appearing Crew at http://www.sprintcarxr.com in a contest presented by Hy-Vee. Each winning car and crew will collect $1,500 in cash and $3,500 in contingency sponsorship. The "Best Appearing" block party will be from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hy-Vee parking lot across from Knoxville Raceway.
* There's no rest for the Outlaws after completing the Nationals. After completing the Nationals Saturday night, the series begins a swing to the West Coast Aug. 16 with a one-night show at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D., before invading Billings Speedway on Aug.19-20 in Billings, Mont.; Grays Harbor Speedway Aug. 26-27 in Elma, Wash.; and Cottage Grove Speedway Aug. 30 in Cottage Grove, Ore.
* The Knoxville Nationals can be seen live from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern Saturday on SPEED Channel.