News, Notes and Quotes from 360 Knoxville Nationals Night One – DTD Exclusive

By MIKE MALLETT

Ryan Giles kicked off the 2019 edition of the 360 Knoxville Nationals at the Knoxville Raceway by winning one for the locals. The Des Moines, Iowa, native held off all comers in taking down the field for this third win of the 2019 season at the famed half-mile.

This year has been a breakout year for the 29-year-old. He came into the Nationals second in the points standings in the 360 division as he goes for his first track title. He’s been consistent when he’s finished, usually placing in the top 10. Although there have been a few hiccups along the way, it’s been a good season to date and it go better with a win Thursday night.

“Just laps and experience,” said Giles about his improvement in 2019. “This is our fifth year in Sprint Cars. Every year we gain more and more. We’ve raced this car for three years now. Two or three weeks ago it actually got in a wreck on the frontstretch and we lost the points lead here. We are in a tight battle. We took it over to Eagle and got it clipped and put it back together in a week. We haven’t been out of the top 10 since. It’s been good.”

The win Thursday didn’t come easy as he kept a handful of ASCS regulars at bay. He also was able to fend off current All-Star Circuit of Champions point leader Aaron Reutzel. That test came as the caution was displayed as he was coming off of turn four to take the checkered. That caution gave the field two more laps to try and get something done. He was up to the challenge.




“It gets in your head a little bit, but you just try and focus on your car and your race and putting together the corners,” stated Giles. “Luckily we were able to do two more of them and hopefully we can put 25 of them together and be back here on Saturday night.”

It appears that Giles is locked into Saturday night’s A-Main as he amassed enough points to place himself sixth in the initial tally after night one. He didn’t qualify as well as he would have liked at 14th quick, but he more than made up for it in the feature.

“If we are in, we are fortunate to be in the race again,” mentioned Giles. “I’ve made it four out of five years that I’ve been trying. That is pretty good track record and something we are really proud of.”

Some Poor Luck for Reutzel

Aaron Reutzel put himself solidly in the field with his runner-up finish to Giles in the main-event. Things might have even turned out better had a restart on lap nine not been called back. Reutzel had gone from fifth all the way up to third.

“I was pretty disappointed,” he said when asked about the restart that got called back. “That might have been different if that one didn’t called back. It would have given me more time to get to him. He was definitely slowing down a lot on that long run. The traffic made him get out of his line. I don’t think he moved around much at that point. I’m not sure if he knew what was out there. It is what is it, and we’ll learn from it for Saturday.”

Knoxville Notes

The opening night of the 360 Knoxville Nationals saw 42 cars entered for racing action…

Dusty Zomer was fastest in qualifying with a 16.267…

Heat race triumphs went to Devon Dobie, Thomas Kennedy, Mason Daniel, Jack Dover and Justin Henderson while Parker Price-Miller won the B-Main…

Kevin Ingle was the only caution of the heat races as he spun in turn four in heat two…

Jamie Ball has no luck in the Knoxville Nationals. Ball and Sammy Swindell got together in the B-Main sending him into the wall backwards in turn one. The heavy hit broke the left rear tire off the car…

Joe Beaver failed to appear in his heat race event…

Swindell’s night ended a few laps later in the B-Main when he spun in turn three when the left front tire went flat on his No. 11x while running in a transfer position…

Price-Miller started 21st and ended up with hard charger honors as he came home ninth in the A-Main…

Wayne Johnson finished third in the feature even though he was down a cylinder in the final laps…

The 50/50 paid $1,936…

After night one, Dusty Zomer leads the point standings with 479 points after night one over Aaron Reutzel 477. Wayne Johnson, Sam Hafertepe Jr., and Thomas Kennedy complete the top five.