By MIKE MALLETT
Brian Brown didn’t win Saturday night’s Knoxville 360 Nationals A-Main event, but he did put on a heck of a show driving from the 12th starting position to finish in second behind eventual winner Clint Garner. The former 360 Nationals Champion searched high, low and through the middle over the final laps of 25-lap A-Main to catch Garner. He simply didn’t have enough.
“We could have went 50 laps and I’m not sure it would have mattered,” stated Brown. “I was gaining on him and it looked like he switched his line there. I looked at the scoreboard and there was four to go and he switched his line. I felt like at that point he was a little better if not a lot better than me. I was just going to the wrong part of the track there. I passed some cars on the bottom of three and four as it went on I think I would have been a little better staying down there. I wasn’t making great laps on the top so I finally looked for an opportunity to get some miles per hour and try to catch him.”
Brown gave all the credit to his crew for the hard work to make changes after his runner-up finish on preliminary night. Brown always wants to win, but he was gracious in defeat. He gave a heartfelt congrats to Garner on his victory.
“Hats off my crew,” he said. “I moaned about the injection and five different things. Everything I complained about they fixed and made car 100 percent excellent. They fixed the injection. They did a phenomenal job. I came from 12th to second. To lose this is nothing to hang your head about. I said in Victory Lane, and I’ll say it again, for Clint Garner to go his entire career and maybe not win this race wouldn’t be fair I feel like. I’m envious of his team and what they do because that’s what Sprint Car racing is. It’s a dad and two brothers and a bunch of friends that come and dominate week in and week out. I’m proud he won one for the Knoxville locals, congratulation to his team.
Johnson Falls Short in Quest for Another Nationals Title
Wayne Johnson had a great car on Saturday night, it just wasn’t good enough to keep up with Garner. He was gaining on Garner as he got to traffic before the caution flag flew mid-race. On the restart, Johnson got the jump but Garner slammed the door hard to make sure he wasn’t getting by. He wasn’t going to be denied the lead.
“I felt like right there before the caution came out we might have had something for Clint in traffic, but caution the came out and cleared those guys all out of the way,” stated Johnson. “I knew he’d be tough to beat. This is definitely not anything to hang your head about. These two guys got more laps around this track than probably anybody in the country. Clint he did everything he needed to do on the restart. I got a better restart than he did, but he shut door, he knew I was coming, it just played out the way it needed to for him.”
Johnson made a mistake late that cost him second as he tried to run the top even though his car was one of the strongest when he hit the bottom groove right.
“I was stuck on the bottom,” he mentioned. “I was really pretty good on the bottom but I wasn’t catching him so I decided to go to the top. I was no good on the top. I just missed it down there and almost got in the fence. That let Brown get a run on me. I should have just stayed on the bottom. I’m not sure if he would have got by us, but who knows.”
Knoxville 360 Nationals Finale Nuggets
The E-Main was scrapped to start that night after so many drivers scratched from the D-Main…
Matt Egel took a ride in the C-Main. Scott Bogucki spun the middle to turns one and two while running mid-pack. Egel was unable to avoid contact and he took a tumble after hitting the front of Bogucki’s car. He wasn’t injured but his Knoxville 360 Natoinals was over…
The C-Main victory went to Joey Saldana while notables Chad Kemenah, Sammy Swindell and Tony Stewart all transferring to the B-Main as well. None of them was able to drive up through to make the A-Main…
Ian Madsen forfeited his spot in the A-Main. Although he scored enough points to make the sure the team hurt its 360 powerplant. Tayler Balsam made the show from the B-Main as a result of the scratch.
Greg Hodnett spun at the start of the A-Main. The Friday night winner got hung in the middle of the speedway with the rear of the car coming around as Hodnett attempted to avoid contact with another car…
The only other caution of the A-Main was for Calvin Landis as he stopped on the frontstretch…
The Knoxville 360 Nationals are now in the books with 410 Sprint Car action taking center stage on Sunday night for the Capitani Classic which will be extra special this year as the namesake passed away earlier in the year.