KNOXVILLE, IA (August 14, 2021): Kyle Larsen always dreamed of winning the Knoxville Nationals. Now, that dream has become reality.
“The atmosphere this week was unbelievable,” Larson said. He speculated that the year off added to the buzz that surrounded the activities at the Knoxville Raceway. “I felt the energy all week and that kept me pumped up.” He also admitted to being quite nervous before the big race. “Honestly, this is as nervous as I’ve been leading up to a race in a couple of years. I had butterflies all day today.” He also admitted to being distracted during practice for his NASCAR Cup race, saying that he kept playing different scenarios through his head. He also gave thanks to Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon for their belief in him and for allowing him to come and race at Knoxville before racing a Cup car.
Larson revealed a bit of his race strategy. “I wanted to get the lead before the break. I looked at the board and I knew that we were coming down to the end of it. I just blitzed it for a lap and I pulled it off.” He lost the lead briefly on lap 26, but he managed to get back in front of his adversary, Donny Schatz, to be the leader heading into the pit stop.
He would see Schatz again, late in the second half of the race, but he picked up his pace and scooted away from the ten-time winner of the race. “I could see that Donny was taking huge chunks out of my lead lap after lap. He was on my rear bumper and I just told myself ‘I know he’s here, just don’t miss it.’ It was great to beat Donny here for the Nationals. He beat me a few years ago, and he’s the best there is.”
Giovanni Scelzi was the youngest driver ever to sit on the pole for the Knoxville Nationals finale. He had Brad Sweet by his side, and Larson and Brent Marks in the row behind. Schatz was inside row three, with David Gravel next to him. Kasey Kahne was in the fourth row, paired with Logan Schuchart. Brian Brown, a crowd favorite, had row five along with Ian Madsen aboard the Rudzik Excavating car formerly driven by Tim Shaffer. Row six belonged to Brooke Tatnell and Tyler Courtney.
Scelzi broke out to the early lead followed by Schatz, Larson, Gravel, Sweet, McFadden, Marks, and Kahne. By the time that the fans settled into their seats, the top five had formed a single file formation. That lasted for about five laps before racers began to make some moves to improve their track positions.
Schatz and Larson moved in on Scelzi and there was a brief three-car battle for the lead. Scelzi scooted away and Sweet moved in to make it a three-car battle for second.
This time, it was Schatz who drove away from his competition. He began to reel in the leader. He did get his nose out in front of Scelzi on lap nine, but the teen came right back to regain the lead before they got to the scoring loop. Schatz stayed close and he worked on Scelzi again. He succeeded in making the pass count on lap eleven.
Now, it was Larson giving chase to Scelzi, but it was for the second position. Larson made the pass stick on lap 14.
As the racers closed in on the halfway mark, Larson was catching the leader. He rolled the top of turns one and two to take the lead with 24 laps completed. Schatz fought back after the leaders took the halfway sign, but Larson rallied at the west end of the track to be scored as the leader on lap 26 when the yellow flag was displayed.
The racers all ventured pitside for final adjustments on their cars. Almost all of them changed both rear tires, but McFadden also replaced a heavily worn left front tire. The pit stop was uneventful for most teams, but Marks and Tatnell were penalized two positions each for working past the final horn.
When the race resumed, Larson darted out to the lead. Before the racers could settle in for the second half, Rico Abreu brought out the caution. Two laps later, the race was halted again for a flip by Brown in turn one. That incident collected several other cars, including Brock Zearfoss and Sheldon Hadenschild. During the clean-up, Zearfoss replace dthe entire front end of his car and Haudenschild replaced a right rear tire. Cory Eliason’s crew also made a wing change and other repairs. Although he came back out with the others, he did not take the green as there was some additional damage that the crew did not correct when making their hasty repairs.
With those interruptions behind them Larson began to stretch his lead over Schatz. which he would never surrender. Larson settled in behind a lapped car and was riding along in the rubber. Schatz, meanwhile, was pouring on the coals. Behind him there was an intense three-car battle for third between Scelzi, Sweet, and Gravel. Soon after Sweet and Gravel overtook Scelzi, Gravel blew his engine.
With twenty laps remaining, Schatz was closing in on the leader, and he was bringing Sweet along for good measure. Scelzi was under attack from Schuchart, who was one of the few drivers to make headway in the second half of the contest.
Schatz caught up to Larsen with five to go. Larson was still riding behind the lapped car and Schatz moved up a groove in turns three and four with three laps remaining. Schatz came off turn four next to Larson, who realized that Schatz was within striking distance. He picked up his pace and gained a few car lengths on his challenger. Schatz tried again on the final lap, but he could not get a run on the leader.
Larson took the checkers to a thunderous ovation. Schatz was second, followed by Sweet, Scelzi, and Schuchart. Marks crossed in sixth. McFadden paid for the new rubber with a seventh place finish. His car owner, Kahne, was next, with Carson Macedo and Sheldon Haudenschild rounding out the top ten.
The B Main transfer cars were Macedo, Kerry Madsen, Eliason, and Haudenschild. The B Main finish was quite thrilling, as Madsen, Eliason, Haudenschild, and Spencer Bayston were closing rapidly on a lapped car. All five came to the finish line in a wild scramble, with Haudenschild driving down to the berm to keep up his speed and grab the final transfer by just .008 seconds.
The C Main transfers were Hunter Schuereberg, Ayrton Gennetten, Harli White, and Sawyer Phillips. Wayne Johnson suffered a flat while leading on the last lap, forcing a green-white-checkered finish to the event.
The D Main was dominated by Jack Dover. Scotty Thiel, Dustin Selvage, Mark Dobmeier, Chad Kemenah, and Jesse Attard also advanced.
The E Main winner was Jason Sides, followed by Dylan Cisney, Jacob Allen, John Carney, II, and Tyler Esh. Bobby Mincer was added to the D Main as an alternate when Skylar Gee scratched from the event.
A Main: Kyle Larson, Donny Schatz, Brad Sweet, Giovanni Scelzi, Logan Schuchart, Brent Marks, James McFadden, Kasey Kahne, Carson Macedo, Sheldon Haudenschild, Kerry Madsen, Brooke Tatnell, Justin Peck, Shane Stewart, Brock Zearfoss, Ian Madsen, Anthony Macri, David Gravel, Justin Henderson, Brian Brown, Tyler Courtney, Cory Eliason, Rico Abreu, Danny Dietrich.
B Main: Carson Macedo, Kerry Madsen, Cory Eliason, Sheldon Haudenschild, Spencer Bayston, Shane Golobic, Kraig Kinser, Scott Bogucki, Davey Heskin, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Bill Balog, Lynton Jeffrey, Sawyer Phillips, Ayrton Gennetten, Sye Lynch, Daryn Pittman, Hunter Schuerenberg, Josh Schneiderman, Josh Baughman, Sammy Swindell, Zeb Wise, Kyle Reinhardt, Harli White, Jac Haudenschild, Paul McMahan (DNS).
C Main: Hunter Schuerenberg, Ayrton Gennetten, Harli White, Sawyer Phillips, Carson McCarl, Tim Shaffer, Tim Kaeding, Marcus Dumesny, Roger Crockett, Clint Garner, Tasker Phillips, Mark Dobmeier, A.J. Moeller, Tanner Carrick, Colby Copeland, Jesse Attard, Dustin Selvage, Mike Wagner, Jack Dover, McKenna Haase, Chad Kemenah, Wayne Johnson, Terry McCarl, Scotty Thiel (DNS).
D Main: Jack Dover, Scotty Thiel, Dustin Selvage, Mark Dobmeier, Chad Kemenah, Jesse Attard, Jake Bubak, Don Droud, Jr., Derek Hagar, Greg Wilson, Robbie Kendall, Ryan Roberts, Jordan Goldesberry, Jacob Allen, Jeff Swindell, Riley Goodno, T.J. Stutts, Jason Sides, Dylan Cisney, John Carney, II, Chris Martin, Tyler Esh, Bobby Mincer, Noah Gass, Skylar Gee (DNS), Lucas Wolfe (DNS).
E Main: Jason Sides, Dylan Cisney, Jacob Allen, John Carney, II, Tyler Esh, Bobby Mincer, Kevin Ingle, Tori Knutson, Austin Miller, Joe Simbro, Logan Wagner (DNS), Ryan Giles (DNS), Austin MCCarl (DNS), Skylar prochaska (DNS), Matt Moro (DNS), Cale Thomas (DNS), Parker Price-Miller (DNS).
All Star Circuit of Champions returning to Lernerville Speedway for 2-events including Don Martin Memorial
SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The All Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) is returning to Lernerville Speedway in 2022 for two nights of action including the Don Martin Memorial XXXI.
The All-Stars will make their first appearance at ‘The Action Track’ on Friday, April 29. The appearance will mark the series return to Lernerville for the first time since 2019 as COVID-19 cancelled their 2020 appearance and rain washed out this year’s visit.
On July 6th the All-Stars will return for the $25,000-to-win ‘Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup XXXI’, one of the most prestigious Sprint Car events in the history of the sport.
“We’re very excited to bring in the All-Stars and their thrilling brand of high-level Sprint Car racing” said Lernerville Speedway General Manager Mike Lysakowski said in a statement. “I have always been a fan of the All-Stars and for 2022, we had more freedom in choosing a date for this year’s Silver Cup. We believe we have chosen a date that is very conducive to bringing both national and regional Sprint Car aces to Lernerville.”
Western PA Speedweek to return in 2022
SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Western PA Speedweek is returning for 2022 following a successful reboot earlier this year.
The five consecutive nights of winged 410 Sprint Car action will see the best regional drivers vying for an A-Main feature purse that is increasing to $14,000 with $3,000 going to the winner each night and a $300 minimum to start!
The action takes place Wednesday, June 1st through Sunday, June 5th at Michael’s Mercer Raceway (Mercer, PA), Thunder Mountain Speedway (Brookville, PA), Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA), Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) and Tri-City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA), with the round-trip total clocking in at exactly 259 miles from beginning to end.
The group time trial format used last season was extremely popular with both drivers and fans alike, and will also be utilized again in 2022.
Ryan Smith of Fleetwood, PA is the defending Speedweek Champion after winning two features and a podium in three events in 2021.
Lernerville Speedway not on World of Outlaws schedule in 2022
SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Lernerville Speedway, a fixture on the World of Outlaws tour since their inception in 1978, is not on the Outlaws schedule for 2022. The fate of the Don Martin Silver Cup is unknown at this time.
Lernerville officials were planning for two NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car events as well as a World of Outlaws Late Model event for 2022 and were shocked and surprised when the schedule was released on Monday.
Pittsburgh Racing Now has reached out to World Racing Group, the parent company of the World of Outlaws, for comment but have not received a response as of publication.