By MIKE MALLETT
For Sprint Car fans, today is Christmas Day. It’s the finale of the 59th running of the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway where $150,000 is up for grabs as well as one of the most prestigious titles in all of racing. Over 100 cars attempted to qualify for the 50-lap A-Main, with all but four of the coveted spaces in the show accounted for.
Saturday night we’ll see who the final four drivers to make the race are. We’ll learn whether Donny Schatz can race his way through the B-Main or will he miss his first finale in over a decade. There will be several twist, turns and happenings tonight.
Before we crown a winner, DirtTrackDigest.com gives you a look at the cars currently in the A-Main starting field thanks to staff photographers Brent Smith and Jeff Ferguson (AKA Sasquatch Racing Photos). We’ll also include a prediction for the outcome of the A and B Mains.
A MAIN STARTING LINE-UP THROUGH THE LENS (50 Laps)
17. B Main Transfer
18. B Main Transfer 2
19. B Main Transfer 3
20. B Main Transfer 4
A-MAIN PREDICTION: Coming into the week, I’ve never been one to doubt Donny Schatz at the Knoxville Nationals. I feel like I pick him year in and year out. I even want to stick with him today, but that’s a tough sell. So many cars have looked strong at this year’s edition of the Knoxville Nationals. It just doesn’t seem that Schatz is in the dominant car category, but he’s the definition of elite, always shines in the big moment, but does he have enough to get it done on Saturday night? I just don’t know, but I know this, he’s my pick to win the 2019 Knoxville Nationals. I’ve picked him from the day we arrived in Knoxville and I just can’t bring myself to pick anyone else. He’s won it from the B-Main before and I believe he’s going to do it again on Saturday night.
It’s easy to expect a quality run from David Gravel and Brad Sweet. If it’s not Schatz holding the trophy at the end night, it will be one of these two drivers. Last year Sweet won the Capitani Classic, his qualifying night feature before winning the finale for the first time. Gravel has matched that so far in 2019. He’s due. If anyone can pull off the sweep it’s Gravel. He just needs to make it all 50-laps.
B MAIN (22 Laps, Top Four to A)
1. 9 James McFadden (Warrnambool, VIC, AU) 2. 71 Gio Scelzi (Fresno, CA) 3. 24 Rico Abreu (St. Helena, CA) 4. 15 Donny Schatz (Fargo, ND) 5. 13 Mark Dobmeier (Grand Forks, ND) 6. 28 Scott Bogucki (McLaren Vale, SA, AU) 7. 88 Tanner Thorson (Minden, NV) 8. 2 Carson Macedo (Lemoore, CA) 9. 70 Brock Zearfoss (Jonestown, PA) 10. 1A Jacob Allen (Hanover, PA) 11. 2KS Austin McCarl (Altoona, IA) 12. 5H Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, IN)
13. 17B Josh Baughman (Odessa, TX) 14. 39 Sammy Swindell (Lakeland, TN) 15. 11K Kraig Kinser (Bloomington, IN) 16. 17BX Bill Balog (Hartland, WI) 17. 11 Hunter Schuerenberg (Sikeston, MO) 18. 4 Terry McCarl (Altoona, IA) 19. K4 Chad Kemenah (Alvada, OH) 20. 7TAZ Tasker Phillips (Pleasantville, IA)
PREDICTION: Obviously Schatz better make it out of the B-Main since he’s my pick to win the A. So he’ll be at the front. I expect James McFadden to join him in the A-Main as well. McFadden has looked decent all week and if there is a bottom he’ll make it in. Carson Macedo came from 13th to finish third on Wednesday night so I have faith that he can come from eighth to a transfer position. The fourth and final transfer position will go to Spencer Bayston. Bayston came from deep on Friday night and nearly got Dominic Scelzi for the final position in the A. He has the ability to move forward and get a spot in the finale.
C MAIN (15 Laps, Top Four to B)
1. 71BC Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, IN) 2. 27 Carson McCarl (Altoona, IA) 3. 15H Sam Hafertepe Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX) 4. 91 Cale Thomas (Fairland, IN) 5. 1 Travis Rilat (Heath, TX) 6. 35P Skylar Prochaska (Lakefield, MN) 7. 21K Thomas Kennedy (Winnipeg, MB, CAN) 8. 21 Brian Brown (Grain Valley, MO) 9. 83J Lynton Jeffrey (Sydney, NSW, AU) 10. 7X Justin Henderson (Tea, SD) 11. 49J Josh Schneiderman (West Burlington, IA) 12. 99 Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, OK) 13. 39M Anthony Macri (Dillsburg, PA) 14 7SW Jeff Swindell (Bartlett, TN) 15. 18S Jason Solwold (Mount Vernon, WA) 16. 14M Marcus Dumesny (Sydney, NSW, AU) 17. 92 Sye Lynch (Apollo, PA) 18. 10 RJ Johnson (Tampa, FL) 19. 70X Justin Peck (Monrovia, IN) 20. 1X Don Droud Jr. (Lincoln, NE)
D MAIN (12 Laps, Top Four to C)
1. 45 Rusty Hickman (Bendigo, VIC, AU) 2. 56N Davey Heskin (St. Michael, MN) 3. 7 Craig Dollansky (Elk River, MN) 4. 17W Shane Golobic (Fremont, CA) 5. 44 Chris Martin (Ankeny, IA) 6. 3P Sawyer Phillips (Pleasantville, IA) 7. W20 Greg Wilson (Benton Ridge, OH) 8. 68 Chase Johnson (Penngrove, CA) 9. 99X Skylar Gee (Leduc, ALB, CAN) 10. 55 Brooke Tatnell (Sans Souci, NSW, AU) 11. 3C Cale Conley (Vienna, WV) 12. 2C Wayne Johnson (Tuttle, OK) 13. 28P Brian Paulus (Mooresville, IN) 14. 20 AJ Moeller (Rockwell City, IA) 15. 18R Ryan Roberts (Aurora, NE) 16. 9JR Derek Hagar (Marion, AR) 17. 9X Jake Bubak (Arvada, CO) 18. 29 Willie Croft (Roseville, CA) 19. 51 Freddie Rahmer (Salfordville, PA) 20. 21P Robbie Price (Cobble Hill, BC, CAN)
E MAIN (10 Laps, Top Four to D)
1. 7JS Jason Sides (Bartlett, TN) 2. 73AF Joey Moughan (Springfield, IL) 3. 33M Mason Daniel (Springville, CA) 4. Glen Saville (Razorback, NSW, AU) 5. 19T Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, AL) 6. 74 Brodie Tulloch (Upper Caboolture, QL) 7. 5J Jamie Ball (Knoxville, IA) 8. 17WX Harli White (Lindsay, OK) 9. 64 Scotty Thiel (Sheboygan, WI) 10. 17XL Caleb Helms (Findlay, OH) 11. 84 Tom Harris (Banbury, OXFD, UK) 12. 56 Joe Simbro (Pleasantville, IA) 13. 15M Bobby Mincer (Burlington, IA) 14. 2K Kevin Ingle (Huron, SD)
15. J4 John Garvin (Sarver, PA) 16. 85 Chase Wanner (Batavia, IA) 17. 83C Adam Cruea (Troy, OH) 18. 11C Roger Crockett (Broken Arrow, OK) 19. 48 Danny Dietrich (Gettysburg, PA) 20. 40 Clint Garner (Sioux Falls, SD) 21. 3H Jac Haudenschild (Wooster, OH) 22. 19P Paige Polyak (Tiffin, OH) 23. 2AU Andrew Scheuerle (Toowoomba, QLD, AU) 24. 2MM Matt Moro (Polk City, IA)