KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Aug. 12, 2000) - A glimpse of sprint car greatness unfolded Saturday night as Team Mopar's Mark Kinser swept underneath Donny Schatz to collect his second-consecutive Amoco Knoxville Nationals title. Kinser, who drives the No. 5m...
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Aug. 12, 2000) - A glimpse of sprint car greatness unfolded Saturday night as Team Mopar's Mark Kinser swept underneath Donny Schatz to collect his second-consecutive Amoco Knoxville Nationals title. Kinser, who drives the No. 5m Team Mopar Maxim, earned a hefty $100,000 payday for his efforts.
Kinser earned his ninth victory of the season and third Amoco Knoxville Nationals title since inaugurating victory circle in 1996. It was an emotional moment for the defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws champion, one shared by his father and long-time crew chief Karl Kinser.
"Words just can't describe the feeling," said Kinser, who started inside row two. "You can just see the excitement in my dad's eyes. And he's won this thing 14 times.
"There is nothing that compares to winning this race," Kinser continued. "There is no feeling in this world of the excitement. Tears just well up in my eyes when I think about winning this race. I bawled like a baby for three days when I won it last year. The adrenaline pump is amazing."
Kinser's victory seemed like a long shot early in the race. Schatz, a WoO veteran who started on the outside pole, was quite dominant for the first 17 laps. Schatz pulled to sizable leads during each re-start and seemed like he was en route to his first title.
On lap 17, the complexion of the race changed. A red flag waved when the No. U2 of Paul McMahon took a hard tumble through turn one. The resulting race stoppage allowed crew chief K. Kinser and the Mopar crew to work their magic.
"We had to change that during the first red flag period and go to a little higher gear," said K. Kinser, who won his 14th Knoxville Nationals title. "Everything finally came together there at the end. I think if I would have put the tires on we ran the two previous nights; we would have led it from the first lap."
On the restart, Kinser was able to hold his ground and put the pressure on Schatz. A brief challenge from eventual third-place finisher and 1998 Amoco Knoxville Nationals champion Danny Lasoski threatened Kinser, but the Indiana resident was able to establish his ground and move away.
With three laps to go, Kinser slid below Schatz entering turn three and grabbed the point. The two briefly battled for first heading into turn one on lap 18, but Kinser powered away after that.
"Donny was awfully fast out there and I didn't think I could catch him," Kinser said. "The thing was, he didn't do anything wrong, it was just one of those things. We just happened to do something right.
"I found that there was a little moisture on the bottom of the track and we could run there," Kinser continued. "When there were about five laps to go, I just drove it in there and gave it a shot and it worked.
It wasn't an entire bed of roses for the Mopar-powered contingent. The No. 93 Team Amoco Maxim of Dale Blaney was caught in an unavoidable malaise with Jeff Shepard and 11-time Amoco Knoxville Nationals champion Steve Kinser on lap four. Despite a lot of hard work by the crew during the ensuing red, a severely damaged brake line ended Blaney's night in 24th position.
"The No. 4 car (Jeff Sheperd) just got turned around in front of me and I couldn't get out of the way," said a dejected Blaney. "I felt like I was going to be okay as the race went on. It's a 30-lap race and I was hoping to be good at the end."