Kyle Larson capped off his Thursday night 1 prelm. win with a victory in the biggest Sprintcar race of a COVID-19 effected 2020 season.
Knoxville, Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway is the worlds home of Sprintcar racing and its crown jewel event is the Knoxville Nationals. Under normal circumstances an event that attracts hundreds of Sprintcars and thousands of fans. Due to run its 60th iteration but electing to postpone until 2021 for COVID-19 related reasons it left a hole in the Sprintcar calendar.
That hole was filled by the NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Sprintcar Series sanctioned “One and Only!” 3 night event. The $10,000 USD to win Nights 1 & 2 preliminary with the Saturday Night Capatani Classic Feature race paying $50,000 to win.
67 cars turned signed into the venerated half mile for night one and the winner was no surprise. Kyle Larson is having a season of seasons and this win marked his 6th WoO series win, his 4th in a row at Knoxville and adds to his season win tally, across Sprintcars and Midgets now north of 30 victories. His first of the season being at Huntly Speedway on New Year’s day.
This race had plenty of action. Larson started 10th in the 25-Lap Feature and had the lead on lap 18, pulling away to win by 4.8 seconds over Logan Schuchart, Aaron Reutzel, Carson Macedo and David Gravel. Brian Brown, Spencer Bayston, Gio Scelzi, Joey Saldana and Ian Madsen all finishing in the top ten. Brother of Ian, Kerry Madsen crashing badly but was unhurt
Gravel took out the second preliminary night 25-Lap feature. Himself familiar with victory lane at Knoxville after scoring an emotional win piloting the Jason Johnson car to a 2019 Nationals Win. He is also the defending Capatani Classic winner. Several top cars crashing early in the race.
Gravel 0.2 seconds ahead of Larson with brother-in-law to Larson, Brad Sweet home in third, Rico Abreu and Shane Golobic top five. Sheldon Haudenschild, Cory Eliason, Shane Stewart, Schuchart and Reutzel rounding out the top ten.
The top 4 in points after the preliminary nights were Gravel, Larson, Reutzel and Schuchart. They locked into the Dash to decide front 4 rows of the final and were joined by Sweet, Abreu, Macedo and Bayston who won the four 12-lap qualifiers. The balance of the qualifiers either starting mid field in the Feature or reconciled to run in the C or B Mains.
The Dash is lined up by random draw and the finishing order determines the starting order for the big money race. Larson drew 2 and went on to win the race over Reutzel, Schuchart, Sweet, Gravel, Macedo, Abreu and Bayston.
Donny Schatz had motor issues and changed motors several times throughout the weekend. This forced him to start last in the C-Main which he won, putting him on the 2nd to last row of the 15-Lap B-Main. Schatz clawed his way through the field to finish 4th and earn the 24th and last spot on the grid in the 30-Lap Feature.
Brown won the B-Main and joined the rear of the Feature along with Danny Dietrich, Matt Juhl and the aforementioned Schatz.
The reduced crowd in attendance were asked to sit in even rows only with several empty seats between groups. They cheered as the 24 car field went 4-wide in a parade lap salute them.
Larson and Reutzel shared the initial lead until Reutzel was forced to tuck in behind the Elk Grove, California native.
Stewart spun and kept going however the yellow flags were soon out for Reutzel who went to the work area where his crew frantically rushed to replace gears in the differential that had sheared in similar fashion to earlier in their season. The team unable to make repairs in time.
At the restart Larson took off and opened up a lead with Schuchart fending off Gravel and Sweet hounding Macedo. On lap 12 Gravel and Sweet both made their moves and advanced. Macedo fought back swapped spots with Sweet for forth.
With 10 laps to go Larson had close to a 4 second lead over Schuchart and was comfortable in traffic on a track with plenty of grip across all lines.
Gravel got by Schuchart for 2nd with 6 laps to go looked to have nothing for Larson when the red lights came on for Australian McFadden who attempted to fix the damage but ran out of time.
The green, white, chequered restart with 2 laps to go saw Larson cover the bottom with Gravel forced to follow and come home 2nd ahead of Schuchart in third.
“2020’s been a crazy year” Said Larson to the appreciative crowd as he was joined by his young Children and Wife on the podium.
“When I caught traffic I wanted to be aggressive. My car was just so good, once again”.
Macedo and Bayston finishing in the top five with Sweet, Haudenschild, Austin McCarl, Abreu and Daryn Pittman rounding out the top ten. Schatz finishing 12th from grid 24.
The next NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Sprintcar Series race is on 21st August at River Cities Speedway, Grand Forks, North Dakota.
For live and on demand NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Sprintcar Series coverage and more visit www.dirtvision.com
Main image courtesy of BD3 Inc.