By Mike Mallett
The 62nd edition of the Knoxville Nationals is in the books. It was gone in the blink of an eye. The 63rd edition is now less than a year away (yes I start counting already).
Before we move on with the rest of the racing season, as I do each year, here is a quick look back at 62 different facts, details, and random tidbits from the 62nd edition.
PRELIMINARY NIGHT #1
- 52 cars entered into action on preliminary night one of the 62nd Knoxville Nationals.
2. David Gravel set a fast time with a lap time of 15.468. Gravel was involved in a crash on lap one of his heat race. He checked up to avoid another car and was clipped by Justin Sanders, sending him into the wall. Gravel returned to win the C-Main. From there, he finished 11th in the B-Main.
3. Aaron Reutzel had issues at the start of the second heat. He caught Dustin Selvage’s left rear, sending him into the first turn wall on lap one. He did not return.
4. Heat race wins were taken by Brady Bacon, Sheldon Haudenschild, Justin Henderson, Sye Lynch, and Carson McCarl.
5. Davey Heskin suffered motor issues and did not finish heat three.
6. Blake Hahn had assistance from Danny Lasoki and Johnny Herrera in the pit area.
7. Mark Dobmeier blew a right rear on lap two of the C-Main. He finished ninth.
8. Lynton Jeffrey and Scott Bogucki made contact on lap four of the B-Main. Jeffrey got into the wall and was done.
9. Tasker Phillips was the last car to transfer from the B-Main into the A-Main.
10. Phillips went from 24th to 11th in the 25-lap A-Main.
11. Sheldon Haudenschild and Justin Peck came together as they completed lap 18 of the feature.
12. Peck was shot hard into the wall before flipping down the frontstretch. Thankfully, he walked away.
13. Donny Schatz won the feature and $12,000. He was also the highest-point man of the evening with 479.
14. The 50/50 paid $8,093.
PRELIMINARY NIGHT #2
15. 54 cars entered the competition for preliminary night two.
16. Kelby Watt made his 410 Sprint Car debut. He blew a power steering line in hot laps.
17. Random draw placed the No. 121 of R.J. Johnson, the No. 105 of Cody Ihlen, and the No. 101 of Kaleb Henry back-to-back in time trials.
18. Henry was the driver of the No. 101 after Cody Maroske vacated the seat after the Front Row Challenge on Monday night.
19. Rico Abreu set the fast time with a lap time of 15.703.
20. Shane Carson was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Sprint Car Racing by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame prior to the start of the racing program.
21. Prior to the start of the race, Ian Madsen carried the Australian flag, and Kaleb Johnson carried the US flag during the opening ceremonies.
22. Former Knoxville regular Jon Agan was helping Oregon driver Tanner Holmes.
23. Kevin Thomas Jr. competed on Thursday night after receiving a call from Calderwood Racing to drive their No. 4 car on Tuesday.
24. Heat wins went to Zach Hampton, Thomas Jr., Henry, Larson, and Ayrton Gennetten.
25. Shane Golobic was scheduled to start fifth in the second heat. He didn’t make the call. The team was changing an engine and couldn’t get it done in time. Golobic went on to win the C-Main.
26. Larson’s win in the fourth heat made him the only driver to win a heat from the fourth row all week long.
27. Logan Schuchart changed motors after making the A-Main. A stud on the valve cover was stripped.
28. Ryan Roberts transferred from the C-Main only to have his car burst into flames as he pulled into the infield at the end of the event. The fire was extinguished, but he was done for the night.
29. The 50/50 on the night paid $9,990. It was worth more, but due to Iowa law, Knoxville Raceway is only allowed to give away one amount over $10,000. The extra from Thursday rolled into Friday’s 50/50.
30. Daryn Pittman flipped on lap 16 in turn three. Something let go in the left rear, sending his Guy Forbrook-owned No. 5 into the wall hard. Their Nationals was over.
31. Brad Sweet blew a left rear tire on lap 23. Sweet slammed the wall in turn one and got over. He was okay.
32. Jamie Veal flipped as the leader, Carson Macedo, was coming off of turn four. The red was displayed before the checkered. Veal was okay.
33. Macedo won the feature and the $12,000.
34. Larson ended the night with 483 points. He was the high-point man for the 2023 Knoxville Nationals.
35. There were 78 cars that competed in the Hard Knox program on Friday night.
36. Sam Hafertepe Jr. flipped in hot laps. He was done for the Nationals.
37. Justin Sanders made contact with Bill Wagner on hot laps. That caused him to get over his side.
38. Gage Pulkrabek also flipped in hot laps. His car was destroyed, and his night was done.
39. Cap Henry drove a second entry owned by Sorokach Motorsports as a teammate to Austin Bishop.
40. Aaron Reutzel was fastest in Group A qualifying with a lap time of 15.425. Scott Bogucki was fastest in Group B with a lap time of 15.508.
41. Heat wins were taken by Gravel, Parker Price-Miller, Cory Eliason, Chris Windom, Tim Kaeding, and Justin Sanders.
42. Bill Balog had issues with his No. 17B in the A-Main. He slowed and collected both Golobic and Lynch.
43. The 50/50 again paid $9,990.
44. Gravel, Reutzel, Bogucki, and Heskin made Saturday’s feature line-up.
45. It was the first time since 2012 that Heskin made the Nationals A-Main.
46. Kerry Madsen was scheduled to carry the Australian flag for the opening ceremonies. The team discovered a fuel pump issue when the car wouldn’t fire.
47. Ihlen flipped at the start of the E-Main. He was transported to be checked out, and he is okay.
48. Matt Covington flipped in the D-Main. He was also taken to the local hospital and checked out. He was okay.
49. Noah Gass was disqualified from the D-Main for missing a muffler.
50. James McFadden flipped while leading the B-Main when a tire exploded on his Roth Motorsports No. 83.
51. Austin McCarl got a flat tire while running second in the B-Main. He missed the A after starting on the pole last year.
52. Tasker Phillips flipped in the B-Main off the exit of turn four.
53. Logan Schuchart blew a motor while running second in the A-Main.
54. The 50/50 paid $36,927.
55. Kyle Larson earned $2,000 for earning the pole position from SprintCarUnlimited.com.
56. Chase Randall was a rookie for the Nationals.
57. Anthony Macri captured the Jesse Hockett Mr. Sprint Car Award for earning the most points throughout the events at Knoxville Raceway as well as the Front Row Challenge over the 10 day period. He earned an extra $6,500.
58. Sheldon Haudenschild’s car won the best-appearing award worth $1,500.
59. Carson Macedo picked up $500 for the best-appearing helmet.
60. Brandon Wimmer’s crew earned $500 as the best-appearing.
61. Larson joined Donny Schatz as the only driver to lead every lap of the 50-lap feature.
62. With two career wins, Larson is now tied with Ed Leavitt on the all-time win list. Mark Kinser is just ahead of him with three career wins in the event.