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By Eric Arnold

 

For the past decade the Mayor of Knoxville Raceway has been Donny Schatz, and he showed again this past Saturday that to win at Knoxville, you have to go through him. Believe it or not, Schatz’ win was only his sixth career World of Outlaws feature win at the historic half-mile. He has been nearly perfect at the Nationals over the past decade, but hasn’t parked his #15 in victory lane for a WoO win at Knoxville since May 2, 2009.

Just when it looked like a Knoxville Regular, Brian Brown might win his first World of Outlaws feature on Saturday night, Schatz proved he is the man to beat win the chips are down. It was a great effort by Brown, but Schatz was lurking the whole race, biding his time, and pounced at the end to win by a straightaway. Craig Dollanksy proved he will be a force to reckon with as well at Knoxville this coming August, as he took the lead from Brown on lap nine but couldn’t hold off Schatz in the end. On lap seventeen, Schatz made his move in traffic to get by Dollansky for the lead and the win.

Thoughts:

Donny Schatz is sooo good right now. I never thought I would see another Steve Kinser, but Schatz might be the guy to break a few of the King’s records before his career is done. The only man who could compete with Schatz over the past five years was Jason Meyers, and now that Meyers is no longer a full-time driver, it’s like Steve racing without Sammy in the 80’s and 90’s. We have salt but no pepper. Schatz went from a 9.3 average finish in his first ten WoO features to a 6.7 average in his second ten, and then won at Knoxville in race number twenty-one. That spells bad news for the rest of the field as it seems Schatz and crew chief Ricky Warner have the new Hoosier tires dialed in.
Steve Kinser needs help. Not only is his car not performing well, but his car is ugly. I miss the green and white #11. The King qualified forty-first out of fifty-one cars, sixth in his heat, drove from eighteenth to sixth in the B main, and had to use a provisional to start the feature where he finished seventeenth. A humiliating performance to say the least. Kinser (and car owner Tony Stewart) has a tough decision to make in my opinion. Does he fire Scott Gerkin, his long-time trusted mechanic and engine builder? Does he toss away years of engine research and change to a new engine supplier? Or does he hire a new and dedicated engine builder to stay in the shop? Does he reduce the role of Gerkin to stay home in the shop and build engines with a new crew chief on the road? Or dare I say…. retire? I know the King is approaching his 59th birthday, but he hasn’t forgotten how to drive. Gerkin’s talents are worn too thin being on the road and trying to build engines at home in-between road trips. Bottom line is the #11 is not able to keep up. But to see the King not competitive at Knoxville for three consecutive years now is heartbreaking. He hasn’t won a race at Knoxville since…. gulp… April 30, 2005. And he hasn’t won a race at the Nationals since his preliminary night in 2003, that’s ten years ago!

Craig Dollansky is starting to get fast again after not adapting as quickly as some other teams with the new tire early in the season. Look for the #7 to make a big push in the standings in the coming weeks.

Daryn Pittman is a good driver, but seventh at Knoxville won’t cut it, especially in August. Maybe a WoO title will keep his seat in the #9, but expectations are high, and second wasn’t good enough for his predecessor.

Kerry Madsen has six top ten’s in his last eight races. They have found something that works.

Cody Darrah looked better than he ever has at Knoxville, and has three top ten finishes in a row with the Outlaws. Keep an eye on the #4. His back is against the wall, and he desperately needs to win races to keep his seat.

Kyle Larson timed thirty-ninth, but he sure put on a show coming from sixteenth to third in the B, then twenty-fourth to eighth in the A. If it would have been a forty lap race, I think he had something for Schatz, and I’m not just saying that for shock value, I’m serious. I hope we get to see “Yung Money” again this season.

Tim Kaeding might have been able to challenge Schatz and Dollansky for the win, but a flat tire cost him while running third. Next to Schatz, “TK” might be the best driver in the country in my opinion. He is tied for the most WoO feature wins so far this season and has only raced in 76% (16 of 21) of the events.

Sammy Swindell set quick time, and then we didn’t hear his name again until he was involved in an incident in the feature and had to change the nose wing. Sammy is averaging a tenth place finish so far this season.

Double file restarts are dumb, and I would like to lobby for the World of Outlaws to do away with them. Lucas Wolfe, Mark Dobmeier, and Davey Heskin all have torn up race cars to prove it, due to a restart with seven laps to go. Chad Kemenah already missed two races due to injury from a double file start. Other drivers have missed months at a time in the past couple of seasons. Just do away with them. I would rather see a safe race and teams not have to spend more money so they can continue to race throughout the season, than this rule to try to add artificial passing to make a stat look good at the end of the year.

In no other form of dirt racing does a driver dominate its sport like Kinser and Schatz have done. In dirt late models you have probably heard of Scott Bloomquist and Billy Moyer, but they have never dominated for years and years like Schatz or Kinser has.

The Dunkin family track prep crew did an awesome job this week. It’s an art to get the right amount of moisture in the surface, and on a sunny, windy day, their artwork exceeded all expectations!

I look forward to seeing how the Outlaws perform against the PA Posse this weekend.

The Knoxville Regulars made a decent showing against the Outlaws. Brown was third, but disappointed. Dusty Zomer was good with a ninth place finish after qualifying through the B main and starting at the back. Terry McCarl was fourteenth, Mark Dobmeier nineteenth, Ian Madsen twentieth, Davey Heskin, Rager Phillips, and Wayne Johnson also made the feature. I think Zomer, Heskin, and Madsen will be the guys to run up front with McCarl if they continue to qualify well.

The 360 class was a good show as well with Tony Schilling getting his second career win and holding off a charge from Clint Garner. I feel for the drivers who drew an early spot in the hot lap/group qualifying order. They were at a clear disadvantage with the racing surface only being scratched slightly with two laps of “hot laps” after they finished wheel packing. Barring strange circumstances, Garner has the track championship within his grasp. I will focus on the race for second with Russ Hall, Matt Moro, Joe Beaver, Nate VanHaaften, Jamie Ball, Tyler Groenendyk, and Schilling.

I saw a decent amount of complaints from race fans over Facebook and Twitter about the $30 ticket prices this week. First of all, $30 is the going rate for a general admission ticket at any WoO event, not just at Knoxville. You get to see the best drivers on the planet, plus the regulars. The races were great this past Saturday, and the WoO heat formats of inverting four and the top two advancing to the dash is an awesome format! That is better than a weekly 410 format, in my opinion, where most weeks the invert is six and then six transfer to the feature. But compare a $30 ticket to say a $50-$80 ticket at a racetrack not too far away where you will see less passing. Take a family of four to a movie, a concert, a broadway musical in Des Moines, or to a college football game. I dare anyone to compare that entertainment with what Knoxville offers, and at a lower cost. The World of Outlaws is a two-time per year special EVENT! A more affordable option is buying the PPV at home with live video through DirtVision. Hooking up a laptop with a HDMI connection to your 1080pi screen is nice. I’ve tested it out recently myself during the Modified and Stock Car Shootout. But nothing compares to being at Knoxville in person if you ask me. At the races, the colder weather always seems more tolerable, and yes I do sit in the stands, not in a suite or the press box. I love the stands!

*Eric can be contacted at arniebhg@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @_EricArnold.

 

 

 

2013 Knoxville Raceway Season Preview

The 2013 Knoxville Championship Cup Series season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive I can remember, especially in the 410 class. Many teams are coming into the season with experience. Some are brand new teams. And most of them have won races and have excellent equipment. With teams changing from Goodyear to Hoosier tires and harder-narrower tires than they have used before, it will be interesting to see who adapts the quickest to the new tire rules. Twin Features night is always a pivotal night in the points season, and this year it will pay full winnings for both features. Kudos to Brian Stickel and the Fair Board for that decision! The Capitani Classic event is just as important as twin features night and a lot can be gained or lost by making the A main as we saw last season. 2012 saw eight different winners in thirteen weekly shows in the 410 class, and it is hard to believe the competition is tougher in 2013, but it is.

410 Class

The Favorite:
Seven time track champion Terry McCarl is the man to beat. Although McCarl didn’t have a stellar 2012 season in qualifying, he was the only driver to have an average finish of five or better (4.9) in 2012. T-Mac is the clear favorite to win in my eyes and he already has one World of Outlaws feature win in 2013 in Florida.

The Contenders:
Davey Heskin was the point leader most of the season last year and showed maturity behind the wheel. He won two features and his equipment held up all season. Losing the point battle late in the season was tough to swallow as McCarl outperformed Heskin at the Capitani Classic. I look for Heskin, with one more of year experience under his belts, to be right there again in 2013.

Dusty Zomer was second in points in 2011 but is coming off of a disappointing fourth place finish in 2012 with no feature wins. I look for the Ingalls #91 team to come back strong this season, win some races, and challenge for the title.

Bronson Maeschen won two races in 2012, including the Capitani Classic, and finished third in points. Something seemed to click last year for Maeschen and he proved he has the ability to compete for feature wins, not just great qualifying times. It will be interesting to see if Maeschen can sustain that type of effort in 2013.

Mark Dobmeier is another driver to keep your eyes on. He also struggled in qualifying in 2012, and then raced his way up front consistently as he was third in average feature finishes with an average of 7.3. Dobmeier won a World of Outlaws feature in 2012 at Huset’s and has the ability to win at any time. The Lunstra 13 team races racing three nights a week, which helps in a lot of ways, but I also wonder if that hinders them at times with not having fresh equipment at the big Knoxville half-mile. Dobmeier is due for a great points season, and this might be his year.

Australian Brooke Tatnell announced he will be making a run at the Knoxville track championship in 2013 driving the #11AU Barry Lewis owned car. Although Tatnell is a veteran with eleven World of Outlaws career feature wins and four career wins at Knoxville, this is his first real attempt to race for a championship at Knoxville. His only other season competing full time at Knoxville was 1994. Tatnell will be a force in the 410 class as a Knoxville Regular.

Another Aussie, Ian Madsen is coming off of an impressive 2012 season where he showed a lot of improvement at Knoxville winning one feature and finishing sixth in points. He also won the Sydney Speedway $50,000 challenge this winter in Australia after starting at the back of the field. Ian will be driving for a new team this season, the #18 Bret Nehring owned sprint car.

Wild Cards:
Don Droud Jr. will be back in the familiar Gil Sonner 47. Droud has finished seventh in points the past two seasons after finishing second in 2010. They could rebound and be a contender to the championship if they can qualify better. Droud is one of the best drivers in the pit area with a lot of experience.

Lynton Jeffrey was eighth in points in 2012. He didn’t win a feature last season, but if he has the funding and the power under the hood, he can drive his #12 Vortex Wings car to the front.

David Hesmer is coming back after an eight year layoff in the new #1 Bryan Sundby team. This team is focused on winning some races and competing solely at Knoxville. They will have a fast car and I look for them to be tougher in the second half of the season as long as their equipment holds up.

Dustin Selvage is entering his third season in the 410 class. He has performed well at times the past two seasons, and is still looking for his first feature win. Consistency has been his downfall, but I see a lot of potential in this driver. He will change from his family owned team to drive the Williams 7K.

The Field: Josh Schneiderman, Ryan Bunton, Rob Kubli, AJ Moeller, Mike Moore, Dennis Moore Jr., Rager Phillips, Tasker Phillips, Glen Saville, Jarrod Schneiderman.

All of these drivers have experience and most have shown improvement. Ryan Bunton and AJ Moeller both had good qualifying efforts in 2012 but their lack of experience showed in features. Dennis Moore Jr. is moving back into the 410 class after racing in the 360 division the past few seasons. Rager Phillips has moved back into the #10 VaderEcken car and were fast at times two years ago when they combined their efforts, especially at the Nationals. Josh Schneiderman was tenth in points a year ago, but that was down from previous seasons. It will be interesting to see if he can rebound in 2013.

Sentimental Favorite: Robert Bell. Let’s hope we see the #71 back on the track in 2013.

Rookies: Dakota Hendrickson of Omaha, Nebraska, Jordan Goldesberry and Joey Moughan both of Springfield, IL.

Maybe: If Austin McCarl can pull some sponsorship dollars together we could see his #17a back on the track. He is a talented driver who could compete for some wins. I’ve also heard that the #19 of Bob Weuve from Newton might be coming back after taking last season off.

The Part-Timers: No doubt we will see heavyweights Brian Brown, Wayne Johnson, and Danny Lasoski at Knoxville a handful of times this year.

Invaders: It’s already been documented that some teams are planning to visit Knoxville Raceway more often this year to be more prepared for the Knoxville Nationals in August. Listening to recent Winged Nation broadcasts on MRN Radio, Dale Blaney said that he intends to show up on June 1 during the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame induction weekend as his father Lou Blaney will be enshrined. Greg Hodnett also alluded to making a couple of extra trips from Pennsylvania this year to make some laps after being disappointed with his Nationals results missing the Saturday A main the past two years. California driver Rico Abreu has also mentioned that he intends to race a few times in his bid to win Rookie of the Nationals. IRA champion Bill Balog has also mentioned that he will be at Knoxville more frequently this season.

360 Class:

The favorite is four time track champion Clint Garner, who absolutely dominated the points battle in 2012 with four wins. Ganrer will attempt to win his fifth consecutive championship in 2013, which would break the tie of him and David Hesmer with four track championships each. Garner alluded to trying the 410 division in 2013 at the end of last season but his team has since decided to stay with the same program this season.

The drivers hoping to end the rein of Garner are Nate Van Haaften who won two features last season, Jon Agan, Matt Moro, Josh Higday, and Joe Beaver. Agan and Moro both won one feature in 2012 and Beaver was consistently in the top ten. Higday and Moro are both experienced enough, and if they have the equipment and a little luck to stay up front they could do very well. I also think we will see Carson McCarl improve this year in his sophomore season in the 360 class and if he can get a feature win early in the season, that confidence boost might propel him to more wins and be someone to challenge for a top five point finish.

My Wild Cards are Russ Hall, Jamie Ball, RJ Johnson, and Casey Friedrichsen. All of these drivers have the capability to win features on any given night, but consistency is something they need to work on. Thankfully Jamie Ball is healthy and back racing after a serious crash a year ago. Alan Ambers will move up from the 305 class to 360 this year.

Part-Timers: While Randy Martin only runs a part-time schedule, when he is at Knoxville he is consistently in the top five. And with the field opened up to allow 410 competitors to race every week in both classes, I think we could see some teams trying their 360 equipment more frequently to gear up for the 360 Nationals. Brian Brown and Jason Johnson both entered the 360 class twice last season but might do it more often this year when they do show up since they are able to race both classes.

305 Class:

This class is hard to predict but Matthew Stelzer is the defending champion and is likely to be the driver to beat again. Mike Van Haaften and Mitchell Alexander were his top competition a year ago. Cody Ambers and J Kinder will likely show improvement. Matt Stephenson has always been competitive in his #55 and with some rookies coming in I think it will be a tough field of cars. This class is growing, and I have a hunch we will see car counts in this class continue to grow. The one rookie I have my eye on is Newton teenager Jake Strayer, who has had a successful career in SportMods in recent years at Marshalltown Speedway and he started the last race of the season at Knoxville in the 305’s in 2012.

The best part of a new season is that we really don’t know how it will all turn out. From week to week we see teams evolve. Some get better and some get worse as they struggle to keep up with the wear and tear throughout the season. It is the best reality show in my opinion. My favorite part of opening night though is walking through the ticket entrance tunnel and walking up the ramp to my seat, soaking in the environment with some chicken bites, and then watching the push trucks drop the hammer to help fire off the cars. The smell of the methanol is intoxicating as the cars idle by slowly. The anticipation of that first Doug Clark green flag builds. And then the track is packed down tight and the command is given to turn em’ loose! Ahhh it is heaven. As I have grown older a lot of things in life change, but the feeling I still get with that first green flag stays the same and it takes me back to sitting with my father in the stands as a child. Those are some of the best memories of my life, and I hope you make great memories as well this season with your friends at family at Knoxville Raceway in 2013. Good luck to all the competitors and I hope it’s a safe season for all involved.

Eric can be contacted at arniebhg@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @_EricArnold.



11/7

Knoxville Raceway announced today that Brian Stickel has been promoted to the General Manager position, replacing Toby Kruse who resigned in September. John McCoy stays put as the Director of Competition. Gary Schumacher will now take on the role of the Office Manager along with his accounting duties (Director of Accounting and Human Resources). Stickel has been the Director of Marketing and Sales at Knoxville since 2006 and he will continue to oversee those areas as the GM. So not much is changing at the raceway, basically one management position has been eliminated compared to last year.

Stickel is a familiar face at the track with a proven track record. His background is quite extensive within racing and business and I think he is a good choice by the Marion County Fair Board to represent the Knoxville Raceway and help to continue its traditions while also trying to help it grow in the future. I have had a good experience working with Brian the past few years with press credentials, stories for the Nationals programs, planning a company outing, and Twitter. I approached Brian two years ago about why the track should use Twitter, how it could be used, and the benefits. So he agreed to let me post the results and news and it’s worked out well. It’s amazing how when you talk to people face to face, or over the phone, how much more receptive they are to any idea you may have, and you are taken more seriously.

Looking over the resume for 52 year old Stickle is quite impressive. He is a native of nearby Pleasantville and now resides south of Knoxville not too far away from the English Creek Speedway. Here is a summary of Brian’s past work experience in chronological order (thanks to Brian for sharing his resume with me).

Owned his own company that promoted mountain biking events in Vermont.
Director of Competition: National Off-Road Bicycle Association.
Deputy Competition Manger: Mountain Biking 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Executive Director: Greater Des Moines Sport Authority.
Pacific Division Director: NHRA.
Drag Strip Director: Mid-America Motorplex (Pacific Junction, Iowa).
Executive Director: Knoxville Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development.

As you can see he has a background in a lot of other areas besides sprint car racing, and I think that is a good thing. But his heart is where his home is, and that is Knoxville Raceway. Brian has a passion for sprint car racing and he also understands the business side of things as well. I look forward to the 2013 season and what the new management team has in store for us race fans.

 

 

 

10/18

This season at Knoxville was a good one. It was a season that saw the emergence of Davey Heskin as a serious contender, Terry McCarl proved he is the best driver there, Bronson Maeschen finally got his breakthrough win, it was a struggle for Dusty Zomer who was my pre-season pick to win it all, and it was heartbreaking for guys like Austin McCarl who didn’t have the resources to get onto the track until late in the season.

The upgrades to the restrooms were great. The concessions changed from fountain pop to bottles which made the lines move faster. The nachos were packaged a little different to make that line faster. The only thing that slows the lines down is the taco salad which is one of my favorites, but it takes 3-4 minutes sometimes to prepare. Toby Kruse came and went, but he certainly injected a new energy and attitude with employees being more courteous and friendlier than in the past. And I think he handled the situation well with not trying to do too much and reinvent the wheel.

There were eight different feature winners this year in thirteen features. Winning two races were Terry McCarl, Davey Heskin, Bronson Maeschen, Brian Brown, and Danny Lasoski. Winning one feature was Ian Madsen, Justin Henderson, and Wayne Johnson. Drivers with wins in previous seasons and not winning any features this year were Dusty Zomer, Mark Dobmeier, Don Droud Jr., and Lynton Jeffrey.

I keep track of stats of each driver throughout the season at Knoxville.

Top Ten in Qualifying Average: Maeschen 5.7, Heskin 8.4, Selvage 9.4. McCarl 9.5, Madsen 11.3, Bunton 12.2, Dobmeier 12.6, Wolfgang 12.9, Zomer 13.3, Rager Phillips 13.8.

Top Ten in Average Feature Finish: McCarl 4.9, Heskin 6.8, Maeschen 7.3, Dobmeier 7.8, Zomer 8.2, Madsen 9.9, Droud 11.9, Wolfgang 12.3, Jeffrey 12.9, Selvage 13.0.

One stat that is always interesting is the Qualifying Average to Feature Average finish ratio (Q/F as you will see below) where you can use that as an indicator who is passing the most cars in the features.

Looking at each driver in the top ten of points in finishing order:

1.) Terry McCarl Stats: 2 wins, 9 top fives, 12 top tens, 4 heat wins, and 1 quick time. Qualifying average 9.5, Average Feature finish 4.9, Q/F +4.6, Nationals B-Main 14th, +3 improvement in points position. T-Mac was the most consistent driver all season for sure, and one of only two drivers that started all 13 regular season shows. Despite being out qualified all season by Heskin, he stayed within striking distance in the points chase and at the Capitani Classic event T-Mac took the points lead after he made a daring pass around James McFadden in his heat race to get a feature transfer position. That pass was the defining moment in the championship and what put him over the top. He might not have had the fastest car every week, or the most funding, but he was up in the seat each night to drive and he proved he is the best driver in 2012. His Nationals effort of only making it up through the B-Main could be considered disappointing, but not terrible for trying to rebuild his own 24 team this year. He was fourth in points in 2011 in the Vermeer 55 so things are looking up for McCarl.

2.) Davey Heskin Stats: 2 wins, 9 top fives, 11 top tens, 1 heat win, and 2 quick times. Qualifying average 8.4, Average Feature finish 6.8, Q/F +1.6, Nationals A-Main 10th, +6 improvement in points position. Heskin had a chance to win the championship but fell just short. The team has to be proud of their season however after finishing fifth in 2011. They had a clear advantage in qualifying timing in the top five on eight nights. Only Bronson Maeschen had a better qualifying average. The Garrett Engines were killers this year. Heskin showed maturity by being patient at times, he found the rubber early on a couple of nights, and the nights he started further back with a ten or twelve invert draw he always made his way to the front. And his Nationals this year was a good one getting his third consecutive A-Main start and his second top ten finish. Heskin was eighth in points in 2011 so a big jump for him to second. He is young, popular with fans and kids as well. I look for Davey to only get better.

3.) Bronson Maeschen Stats: 2 wins, 6 top fives, 11 top tens, 1 heat win, and 1 quick time. Qualifying average 5.7, Average Feature finish 7.3, Q/F -1.6, Nationals B-Main 11th, +8 improvement in points position. Maeschen was a great underdog story this year. He left the Jordan 1 team at the end of 2011 after finishing eleventh in points last year and he restarted his own 96 team. That move paid off as he picked up his first two career feature wins, including the Capitani Classic over a stacked field of 67 cars. He had the best qualifying average this year and third in feature average finish. A really good season for Bronson and he answered the critics about not being able to race his way through the field as he was more aggressive this season. Hopefully Bronson can keep the momentum for 2013.

4.) Dusty Zomer Stats: 0 wins, 6 top fives, 11 top tens, 5 heat wins, and 0 quick times. Qualifying average 13.3, Average Feature finish 8.2, Q/F +5.1, Nationals B-Main 24th, -2 spots in points position. Zomer had a disappointing 2012 season. After winning four features and finishing second in points in 2011, most had Zomer picked to win the championship before the season started (including me). The Ingalls 91 car just didn’t have a good qualifying year and that never seemed to improve all season and it caused them to miss the feature invert a lot of nights. When you win five heat races that is an indicator that the car races well, but can’t qualify well. I wish I would have kept track of who the hard charger was each week because this guy won it several times I’m sure. And then they wrecked at the start of the Nationals B-Main to cap off the year. I hope they can turn it around in 2013.

5.) Mark Dobmeier Stats: 0 wins, 7 top fives, 10 top tens, 2 heat wins, and 0 quick times. Qualifying average 12.6, Average Feature finish 7.8, Q/F +4.8, Nationals A-Main 12th, +0 improvement in points position. The Lunstra/Dobmeier 13 team had a year that was good overall, winning a World of Outlaws feature at Huset’s, making the Nationals A-Main after winning the B-Main and advancing to twelfth, but their season at Knoxville other than the Nationals had no wins, poor qualifying, and they were much like Zomer always racing their way up from the back. They were fifth in points last year as well. It’s a head scratcher to make any sense out of, but this is a good team and a good driver. I look for them to improve in 2013 and be more consistent. But they do run a lot of races throughout the season and maybe they were running thin on engines or equipment compared to a lot of other teams.

6.) Ian Madsen Stats: 1 wins, 3 top fives, 8 top tens, 0 heat wins, and 2 quick times. Qualifying average 11.3, Average Feature finish 9.9, Q/F +1.4, +1 improvement in points position from 2010. Madsen showed a lot of improvement this year compared to a couple of years ago when he was racing weekly at Knoxville. He is my vote for most improved driver although his points improvement doesn’t show as big of a number as Heskin or Maeschen. With a trained eye you can tell how much smoother he is on the track and he races in a much more controlled way. It’s difficult to explain, you had to be there. Hopefully the Vermeer/Barry Lewis 55 team can stay together for 2013. I’m excited to see how they can do with another year together.

7.) Don Droud Jr. Stats: 0 wins, 2 top fives, 7 top tens, 2 heat wins, and 0 quick times. Qualifying average 14.3, Average Feature finish 11.9. Q/F +2.4, Nationals C-Main 12th, +0 improvement in points position. Seventh in points again this year. Droud is getting the most out of the Gil Sonner 47 and he brings the car back to the trailer in one piece. They were second in points in 2010 to Brian Brown and they didn’t rebound after a disappointing 2011. Good driver, down on horsepower for sure.

8.) Lynton Jeffrey Stats: 0 wins, 2 top fives, 6 top tens, 3 heat wins, and 0 quick times. Qualifying average 16.6, Average Feature finish 12.9, Q/F +3.7, Nationals C-Main 17th, +1 improvement in points position. Jeffrey is getting the most out of the equipment he has. Hope he can get the #12 back into victory lane in 2013.

9.) Dustin Selvage Stats: 0 wins, 1 top fives, 7 top tens, 0 heat wins, and 1 quick time. Qualifying average 9.4, Average Feature finish 15.6, Q/F -6.2, Nationals B-Main 22nd, +1 improvement in points position. Selvage’s sophomore season in the 410 class was up and down. He qualified well in the heat of the summer months and on the nights he had mechanical problems he was running in the top ten usually. I think this kid has a lot of talent and his team will figure out how to be more consistent in 2013 and probably win a feature. He has the most potential of anyone for improvement next season.

10.) Josh Schneiderman Stats: 0 wins, 4 top fives, 2 top tens, 7 heat wins, and 0 quick times. Qualifying average 17.3, Average Feature finish 14.2, Q/F +3.1, Nationals C-Main 14th, +2 improvement in points position. The Deuce Motorsports team expanded to two teams in 2012 with brother Jarrod moving up to the 410 class. Schneiderman was eighth in points in 2010, dropped to twelfth in 2011, so tenth in 2012 is a slight improvement but not where this team probably wants to be. After making the 2010 Nationals A-Main and finishing thirteenth I was expecting this team to jump up the standings similar to Heskin but it hasn’t happened. The potential is there, and with being able to afford two teams they should have good equipment, maybe they have the wrong combination right now. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I hope we see improvement from Josh in 2013.

Brian Brown won two features in his seven appearances at Knoxville weekly shows. So proud of this guy for starting his own team and building it up to what he has. He is a good driver and I think he has the right attitude and business model to continue his success. If you’re looking to start a race team, this guy has set the benchmark in my opinion.

Danny Lasoski was at Knoxville for three of the first five races and won twice. He ran ninth at the Capitani Classic and now has a streak at Nationals of missing the A-Main three years in a row. If he would have stayed to run at Knoxville all year he likely would have won another track championship. He has 98 career wins and although some people are already celebrating 100 wins, he isn’t there yet and I think it’s wrong to even talk about it until he gets there. If he wins 100 great, I hope he does. But what if he doesn’t get to 100 for some reason? It’s bad karma.

Robby Wolfgang had a decent season going, but stepped away from the 7K. That car just doesn’t have the funding to be competitive, and I think Robby has become a good driver, but he needs a sponsor and funding like a lot of other teams out there. I would like to see what Robby can do in better equipment.

Ryan Bunton found a good bullet for under the hood of the 6R and was able to qualify well all season with a average of 12.2, but his feature finish average was 15.7. Another year of experience and I think he could be a contender.

Austin Johnson tore up a lot of equipment this year in grandpa Marty’s 81 car, including one car over the turn three fence. He made it to six weekly shows and half of those he didn’t finish. And he tore up another car at the Nationals. He had some bad luck for sure, but he never qualified worse than ninth so the car is fast. Fast car, young driver, we will see if the 81 can improve in 2013, but I’m cheering for them.

The Knoxville Knockouts: Did anyone see them this year? I barely noticed them. Not sure that ambassador program worked well or not, but my vote is no.

My personal awards: 410 Driver of the Year: Davey Heskin. His Nationals performance and 2 wins did it for me. 410 Most Improved Driver: Ian Madsen Goody’s Headache Powder Award: Austin Johnson Race of the Year: Friday Night of Nationals. Hope you were there! Mr. Congeniality: Davey Heskin. My kid’s vote has more weight than mine here, but Davey always has fist bumps for the kids.

 


 

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