Knoxville Nationals Wednesday report 2006-08-09

World of Outlaws star Donny Schatz Tops Points After First Night of Knoxville Nationals Competition Knoxville, IA -- Aug. 9, 2006 -- Donny Schatz has finished second at the Knoxville Nationals four times since 2000. This time around, the World...

World of Outlaws star Donny Schatz Tops Points After First Night of Knoxville Nationals Competition

Knoxville, IA -- Aug. 9, 2006 -- Donny Schatz has finished second at the Knoxville Nationals four times since 2000. This time around, the World of Outlaws Sprint Series championship points leader is confident he can move that one extra step up the podium.

On Wednesday's opening night of the 46th Annual Super Clean Knoxville Nationals, Schatz motored his ParkerStore J&J from the back of his heat into transfer position and then raced his way from the fourth row in the A-main into second at the checkered flag behind Pennsylvania Posse legend Fred Rahmer.

Fellow World of Outlaws star Daryn Pittman was trying to run down Rahmer while fending off Schatz on a green-white-checkered flag finish, but Schatz was too strong. Pittman settled for third in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim, the best showing of his career in a Knoxville Nationals qualifying night event.

In addition, Mean 15 driver Craig Dollansky battled motor trouble all night long to pull out a fifth-place finish in the Karavan Trailers Maxim with Chad Kemenah grabbing 10th in his specially painted RacinSoles.com/UUI Eagle and Jeremy Campbell -- who cruised to victory in his heat -- wrapping up 19th in the Americas Best Value Inn Maxim.

On a night with 62 cars taking time, Becca Anderson drove her Upstate Kenworth Maxim to a 19th-place finish in the B-main after being taken out in a crash during her heat race. Justin Henderson's Jolt Energy Gum Schnee was edged out of the final transfer spot on the last lap of the C-main.

The second night of action is Thursday, featuring World of Outlaws stars Brooke Tatnell, Joey Saldana, Terry McCarl, Jac Haudenschild, Dion Hindi, Jason Martin, Brian Carlson and Randy Hannagan.

While everybody strives to wind up in Victory Lane at the end of the night, the first two days of the competition during the Knoxville Nationals are more about how many points a team can earn. After Wednesday, Schatz is leading the way with 484 points, followed closely by Dollansky's 482 points. Pittman is fifth with 457 points. All three should advance into the main event on Saturday night for a shot at the $140,000 top prize.

"You got to let it all hang out," said Schatz, of Fargo, N.D. "This is the Knoxville Nationals. There's no room for error and I didn't want to be in that B-main. I was in it last year. Sometimes you have to have the win-it-or-wear-it attitude. I was going for it. Everybody wanted to run around the bottom so I had to go where they weren't. I got past a few cars and kept our speed up longer and passed a couple of more cars."

Racing through the field is nothing new for Schatz. On the World of Outlaws tour, he often will race from deep in the field into the top five, twice winning from the seventh starting position on the grid.

"It's been a part of the game of our season," he said. "We've done it all year long. I've told my guys I want to go on the best night. I want to be with all the fast cars because if you're going to beat the fast cars you're going to have to go head-to-head with them. A lot of the fast cars were tonight, and there's still a lot of great cars to go tomorrow night. This team works hard and we don't put our head down when we get a bad pill draw, we just have to make the best of it. Maybe it's not going to be quick time. I would have been happy being eighth or 10th quick but we got fifth. Then it was time to set our sights on the heat races. I did not want to run the B-main so I was going to do everything I could to transfer."

While Schatz certainly leaned on his experience and horsepower, Pittman was trying to continue his recent hot streak. With three main event wins and two preliminary night victories since the middle of June, Pittman is confident his team can post a strong showing in the main event televised live on SPEED at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday night.

"We've had good cars all year, but we've found a good combination with our motors and luckily we've been quick," said Pittman, a native of Owasso, Okla. "We haven't been the fastest car every night, but we've definitely made a lot of headway the past couple of weeks. It's the first time I've ever been in here on the podium except for winning the Kele Challenge. I would have liked to have let the race go green but that's how it is. I'm happy with third place because it gives us good points toward Saturday.

"I thought we had a chance to win the race. All in all, I don't have a great Nationals record so to come out of here with a podium finish after qualifying 16th and having a solid night all the way around, I'm definitely happy. You hate to give up races when you think you have a chance to win, but tonight Schatz was pretty quick and Rahmer was good enough."

No team worked harder throughout the night than Dollansky's crew. Battling motor trouble, the team still emerged second in points and will most likely have a decent starting position in the feature on Saturday night.

"It's definitely all about points," said Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn. "Unfortunately our motor didn't run all night long. We got lucky in qualifying. I really didn't think we were going to make it to the end of our heat race. We changed that to a motor that has 10 nights on it. I couldn't do anything until we got three laps in, then I could get the speed going and I could maneuver. We're hurting a bit in the motor department but we'll get things sorted out as quickly as we can."

Kemenah, a former runner-up at Knoxville, was the talk of the pits with his special paint scheme. He was consistently fast throughout the night, able to hold his ground in the low groove.

"The racetrack was so fast you can't pass on the thing," said Kemenah, of Findlay, Ohio. "You move and a guy gets away from you and you can't make it up, but it's the same for everybody. Hopefully it's the same Thursday. We should have enough points to be up front in the B-main on Saturday. I don't know if we'll have enough points to be in the A-main. A lot of it depends on tomorrow, but we'll be all right."

Like Dollansky, Campbell also was battling motor issues, although it was hard to notice when he dominated his heat race.

"We've been having some motor troubles," said Campbell, of Monroe, Mich. "The hot laps were great, qualifying wasn't so hot. It put us in a pretty good spot in the heat race and we won and made the show. That's what I was hoping for tonight, just making the show. In the feature, we would have finished a lot better, but we had some motor troubles. We'll get it prepared for Friday. We're figuring it out. We think we know what's wrong with it. It was awesome in the heat race. It's just a fine line between how much we need to change. I think we figured it out."

Anderson was making her first start in a Knoxville Nationals qualifying event, and was excited just to compete. But after being collected in a crash during her heat race, the reality set in that she was in for a long night. Anderson came back and powered to victory in the C-main while using the B-main to learn about racing in heavy traffic on the high-speed, historic half-mile.

"It's a big deal coming here for my first Knoxville Nationals," said Anderson, of Houston, Del. "Just timing in 13th quick was a plus. I was all nervous, even about the draw and going out early enough to get a good time. The heat race is one of those things where they invert the top 50 all the way back, it's flat out hard racing. Things happen and it's just one of those racing things. I'm having a blast. We were good in the C-main and won that. We were too tight in the B- main back in the dirty air, but I think we learned some stuff for later in the week."

Henderson was the seventh fastest car in time trials, but after the invert pushed him to the back of a heat he also was in for a long night. Like Anderson, Henderson was attempting to make the B-main when Kenny Jacobs caught and passed him on the final lap to grab the transfer spot.

"We had a really good car in qualifying," said Henderson, of Sioux Falls, S.D. "The track was so darn fast in the heat race I couldn't get by anybody. That put us on the front of the C-main and I thought I had a really good car. I tried to pass Becca for the lead but I couldn't by her and then on the last lap I got taken by Kenny Jacobs. We'll do what we can to come back on Saturday night."

-credit: woo

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Donny Schatz , Craig Dollansky , Kenny Jacobs , Brian Carlson , Brooke Tatnell , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Randy Hannagan , Becca Anderson , Jac Haudenschild , Chad Kemenah