Knoxville Nats Weds Quotes: Schatz on Top, Schuchart Wins and More – DTD Exclusive


Donny Schatz is the high point man at the Knoxville Nationals after the opening round of qualifying for the 62nd edition of the historic event on Wednesday night. He was actually tied with David Gravel at 469, but his second-place finish in the A-Main secured him top honors.

He may be on top, but he’s not happy with how things played out throughout the evening. The track was tough with 90 percent of the drivers who timed in the top 20 not making it out of the heat race. Schatz and Gravel were the only two drivers of the top 20 from time-trials to successfully transfer from their heat races directly into the A-Main. The next highest driver was Aaron Reutzel in 21st position.

“The way it feels it will probably be good enough for the front of the B,” said an obviously annoyed Schatz. “I don’t know what to say. To say I’m disappointed, yeah. There wasn’t anybody who came through those heat races from the fourth row. The bottom lane and a half wasn’t even close to being run in. It wasn’t close when we qualified. I was pretty frustrated, pretty furious after that.

“What do you do? I don’t do the race track. This is the Knoxville Nationals, our biggest race, you saw what happened. Seventeen of 20 guys were in the B. If I wouldn’t have run fourth in my heat race, I would have started the B in 11th. It is kind of surreal to sit and think about all the equations that played out. You see guys that qualified, little Haud (Sheldon Haudenschild), qualified top eight and weren’t even close. When you look at it, you are just glad you are not in that position.”

Due to the inversion, Schatz started from the fourth row, much like Sunday in the Capitani Classic. It was a virtual repeat on Wednesday night as he ran the middle and bottom of the speedway to propel himself to the front. He caught pole-sitter Logan Schuchart and nearly passed him for the lead. He wasn’t able to complete the move before traffic became a major road block. From there, Schatz elected to play it safe and take the solid finish.

“I don’t think we really found anything, just quite a few cars in front of us making mistakes,” Schatz said. “I could get into three and drive across the race track really well. I did that to a few guys, caught them in a bad spot is what it really boiled down to. We had a decent run going.

“We actually got to Logan at one point but he moved his line a little bit. I never really went and tried the top. I got aggressive trying to get there, but I got big picture racing really. I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot. There were several lapped cars. One was stopped on the bottom of three and four and that caught me off guard. I just started to play a little bit more cautious there toward the end. I just wanted to see what I could figure out with the car, what we need to change. We tried something different on Sunday. Both felt good, but I felt a little bit better then.”

Schuchart Wins AGAIN

Logan Schuchart took the $12,000 top prize, but you could tell that he wasn’t happy with how the night went. He finds himself eighth in the points at 444. In 2021, that would have put Schuchart into the B-Main for Saturday night. He didn’t have the best of qualifying laps and that cost him several points in the final tally.

“This definitely feels good to get two wins at Knoxville,” said Schuchart. “We are kind of looking at the big picture. I’d like to be better in qualifying. It was the same thing with the Capitani on Sunday where we didn’t qualify as good as we needed to. It was the same tonight. We need to do a little work to figure out why we aren’t qualifying like we need to.

“We race well. As the race went on, I didn’t feel as good as I needed to. I felt like I wanted to move off the top, but I felt like it was taking a big chance not knowing how the car would react to it. It looked like there was a lot of meat in the middle of the race track. I kind of had a feeling Donny would be coming on the bottom. I feel like he always is. I didn’t want to cut off my momentum to go down there and try it”.

Gravel Matches Schatz

Like Schatz, Gravel was not impressed with how things went even though he matched Schatz’s point total. He believes it isn’t going to hold up. He was realistic and admitted things need to improve if they have any chance of getting things done on Saturday night.

“Not that great,” said Gravel when asked about his point total. “Donny and I expect to not be high point guy after tomorrow (Thursday). It was just an odd night. I don’t know if I ever seen that in my career at the Nationals of all the fast guys not transferring through. There was just a lot of grease on the bottom of the race track and it made it difficult to make anything happen.

“I’m happy to finish the A-Main the way we did. I was pretty sloppy and the car wasn’t very good I felt early on. We definitely have work to do. I’m just happy to hit my last lap good and get on the podium. We started eighth so you know you are in the best shape of anyone out there so you don’t want to anything stupid. I got an amazing start and then threw it away on the next lap. I have to not do that again, that’s for sure.”

Odds and Ends

Parker Price-Miller set fast time on Wednesday with lap of 15.362 over Brent Marks…Heat race wins were taken by Carson Short, Corey Day, Brandon Wimmer, Scotty Theil and Mark Dobmeier.  Brock Zearfoss won the C-Main with Price-Miller dominating the B-Main.