|By Nick Graziano
JACKSON, MN – David Gravel had his second Knoxville Nationals win in sight with five laps to go. Then came Donny Schatz.
While he had to watch the 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion drive away for his 11th Knoxville Nationals title, Gravel didn’t let finishing second diminish his confidence.
“You know, it’s one of those things where we’ve had a good past month and a half,” said Gravel, who is on a streak of 17 top-10 finishes in the last 19 races, including three wins. “Our confidence is high. We’re going to hang our heads high, obviously.”
Now in his second full year driving the Huset’s Speedway/Jackson Motorplex #2 car for Big Game Motorsports, and working with 2021 World of Outlaws Crew Chief of the Year Cody Jacobs, he and the team have found their stride in time for the stretch of multiple crown jewel events – including the 44th annual AGCO Jackson Nationals, Aug. 18-20.
“There’s another big race (Thursday through Saturday for the AGCO Jackson Nationals) at Jackson (Motorplex), then there’s another decent sized race at Skagit (Speedway with the Skagit Nationals) and Gold Cup (at Silver Dollar Speedway) is growing. Then we have the Nationals Open (at Williams Grove Speedway),” Gravel said. “So, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the season. A lot of money to be won.”
Gravel has yet to win the Jackson Nationals or a Series event at Jackson Motorplex – owned by his car-owner Tod Quiring and about 30 minutes from the team shop – but still holds an impressive record at the Minnesota track. He hasn’t finished outside the top five in the last six events there, including his second-place finish in the Jackson Nationals last year.
Along with targeting marquee wins, he and his team are in the hunt for the championship for the second straight year. He currently sits 68 points behind points leader Brad Sweet entering the Jackson Nationals. Compared to Sweet’s current record this year, Gravel has two more wins, one less top five and is tied for most top 10s this year (41). Where Sweet has been better is consistency.
Gravel has had three finishes outside the top 15 this year, while Sweet has had one – at the first race of the season. But with momentum behind him and the boast of a strong Knoxville Nationals run, Gravel and Big Game Motorsports have put themselves in a position to keep the fight going until the championship determining World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Nov. 2-5).
“Like I said, we’re confident and we’re pretty happy with where we’re at right now,” Gravel said. “We’re in the championship battle so we have to finish off the season strong and we have a lot to race for.”
For tickets to the 44th AGCO Jackson Nationals, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision – either online or by downloading the DIRTVision App.