KNOXVILLE, IA (August 9) - Donny Schatz' sleep has been interrupted by nightmares of his bridesmaid finish in the 2000 Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals throughout the last year. "The Minot Missile" slept very well Thursday night after...
KNOXVILLE, IA (August 9) - Donny Schatz' sleep has been interrupted by nightmares of his bridesmaid finish in the 2000 Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals throughout the last year.
"The Minot Missile" slept very well Thursday night after dominating the Second Preliminary Feature at the 41st Annual Amoco Knoxville Nationals. The $10,000 victory was the first of Schatz' career at Knoxville Raceway.
"I've run second at Knoxville about half a dozen times, I think," Schatz said. "It's just awesome, even though it's a prelim, to just win one at Knoxville."
The outstanding performance gave Schatz the second-highest point total in the preliminary programs, two fewer than opening-night Preliminary Feature winner Danny Lasoski.
"We've got the best chance in the world at the Nationals," Schatz said. "We're going to try to live it up as much as we can."
Schatz, the fifth-fastest qualifier in the 64-car field, raced past nine cars to win the Fifth O'Reilly Auto Parts Heat Race. He started the 25-lap Preliminary Feature outside the third row and exchanged the lead with courageous front-row starter Sammy Swindell three times before taking control midway through the race.
Swindell, who suffered broken bones in both of his hands and a fractured knee cap in a crash with a push truck at Lernerville Speedway July 24th, raced with temporary casts and even installed a special brake pedal on his #1 Channellock Stealth. The three-time Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion was unsure he would race until recording the fastest lap in his hot-lap session. He qualified 13th-quick, won the Third O'Reilly Heat Race and started outside the front row in the evening's main event.
Swindell, the 1983 Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals champion, raced around pole-sitter Chad Kemenah high in the second corner early in the opening lap and led the 22-car field into lapped traffic six laps later.
Schatz passed Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidates Jeff Shepard, Brad Furr and Jason Meyers during the opening lap and took second place from Kemenah the next time around. He steered his family's #15 Parker Stores J&J into the low groove in the third corner to pass Swindell late in lap seven, only to have Sammy regain the lead deep in turn one several seconds later.
Schatz chased Swindell for two laps before taking command of the race with an inside move in the third corner late in the 10th lap. "The Minot Missile" maneuvered through traffic while the Shaver Racing Engine known as "Jarod" pushed him far ahead of the field throughout the final 15 laps.
"We ran a harder tire, so we knew we weren't going to be promising at the beginning," Schatz said. "I found a good race track up there and the tires started coming in. The Goodyear Eagles were awesome tonight."
Meyers, who won the first Pennzoil World of Outlaw Series "A" Feature of his career at Knoxville Raceway July 16th, won a 10-lap battle with two-time defending Nationals champion Mark Kinser to finish second. Kinser, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader, raced into third place from outside the fourth row.
Stevie Smith finished in fourth place, ahead of Swindell, Furr, Shane Stewart, Shepard, Greg Hodnett and Gary Wright.
Brian Paulus, another Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series racer who suffered hand injuries in a crash earlier this summer, drove P and P Motorsports' #28 Verdelli Farms Maxim into sixth place in the "B" Feature.