Larson Tops Points After Night One of Knoxville Nationals – DTD Exclusive

Larson Tops Points After Night One of Knoxville Nationals – DTD Exclusive
By MIKE MALLETT

KNOXVILLE, IA – It wasn’t easy, but at the end of the first night of the 58th running of the Knoxville Nationals, Kyle Larson sat on top of the point standings. The Elk Grove, Calif., star fought an uphill battle all night long before beating out Donny Schatz by one point for the honor of being on top.

Larson’s luck coming through the gate for the draw couldn’t have been any worse. The NASCAR Monster Cup Energy Cup driver drew pill 75 out of 75. This meant he would time trial last out of the 45 cars entered for the Nationals opener.

“My draws have been unbelievable this year,” stated Larson. “I don’t think I’ve drawn worse than a 15 all year long. All year long by doing that I knew when I got to Knoxville it was going to catch up to me. I was going to draw a late pill. I didn’t think it would be the worst one.”

The poor pill draw applied extra pressure because if he wasn’t able to lock into the show Wednesday night he may have to miss the show completely due to his NASCAR commitments. The logistics of getting back and forth between this week’s race at Michigan and Knoxville Raceway made it nearly impossible for him to run Friday night’s program.

“I was nervous when I drew that last pill because I didn’t want this to be the year I had to watch,” cited Larson. “I just wanted to put a good night together. It’s good to not have to worry about a backup plan.”

Larson did what he had to do in time trials before transferring through the heat race. He settled for a third place finish in the feature behind Greg Hodnett and Tim Shaffer. It was good enough to beat out Donny Schatz by one point at the end of the night after Schatz came from 20th to finish fifth.

“I was able to run a decent second lap, but my first lap wasn’t very good,” commented Larson. “I hit the bottom nice. I went to 10th quick. The heat race was really important too. I didn’t get a good start, but once we got single file I had enough speed to get all the way up to second. That gained us some points there. I went forward in the feature as well. It was a good night. It’s nice to lock in here at Knoxville for sure.”

Schatz placed second in the standings then it was Aaron Reutzel, Kerry Madsen and Shaffer completing the top five.

Wednesday Point Totals

1 57 Kyle Larson 475
2 15 Donny Schatz 474
3 87 Aaron Reutzel 473
4 2M Kerry Madsen 473
5 49X Tim Shaffer 471
6 71 Gio Scelzi 468
7 18 Ian Madsen 467
8 27 Greg Hodnett 462
9 24W Lucas Wolfe 453
10 9 Daryn Pittman 452
11 4 Brock Zearfoss 444
12 5H Sammy Walsh 431
13 2KS Austin McCarl 429
14 09 Matt Juhl 423
15 11 Roger Crockett 421
16 41S Dominic Scelzi 416
17 29 Willie Croft 411
18 13X Paul McMahan 405
19 99 Brady Bacon 404
20 0 Lynton Jeffrey 404
21 40 Clint Garner 403
22 4K Kasey Kahne 401
23 3H James McFadden 400
24 1S Logan Schuchart 400
25 71X Kevin Thomas Jr. 398
26 5J Jamie Ball 392
27 10 Clyde Knipp 390
28 85 Chase Wanner 388
29 15M Bobby Mincer 382
30 17 Sheldon Haudenschild 382
31 56N Davey Heskin 371
32 7S Jason Sides 368
33 19 Brent Marks 367
34 17B Bill Balog 362
35 12N Cole Duncan 361
36 3P Sawyer Phillips 351
37 97G Hunter Schuerenberg 347
38 17WX Shane Golobic 342
39 28P Brian Paulus 319
40 9X Jake Bubak 314
41 68 Chase Johnson 312
42 2K Kevin Ingle 302
43 70S Jeff Swindell 298
44 20 AJ Moeller 294
45 7W Tasker Phillips 280