51st Knoxville Nationals – Night 2

Night 2 saw me go “undercover” in the infield. The intention was to get a different photographic perspective for a short while by getting close to the drivers and cars.

I was accompanied by Travelling Companions Mark, Brayden and Brody Miller. We got grid-locked with the pit gate closing sooner than anticipated, and come time for the heats to commence, we couldn’t exit the arena. No matter – it was a different slant on racing and we said “What the heck – let’s stay here all night”.

The Grandstand Started to fill around 5pm

Watching half mile racing from the infield really is something else. Remember we are used to smaller tracks and cars that have mufflers that take the sharp edge off the exhaust. It was fantastic to be “centre stage” to say the least. The Winged Beasts put on a rotational show that we will remember for the rest of out lives.

Teams didn't have transporters on the in-field and serviced their cars with mules loaded with spares

Spectators can access the in-field for an extra $6

We got some great photos of cars and drivers, both racing shots and static displays. I’ll put some here in this post, but honestly you’ll be treated to some close up stuff for many posts into the future.

Let’s fast forward to the A Feature and talk about that.

The winner of the main event was young Mark Dobmeier. I had seen Mark race back in Australia a couple of years back when Geoff Kendrick invited Mark to drive for him in the 92.9 FM – PIHA sponsored car. Geoff’s race outfit is based in Perth on the West Coast of Australia, and their home track is the magnificent Perth Motorplex The two car team also toured the rest of the nation as well. As I recall the 92.9 car was an Eagle Chassis, and Mark set about establishing his Aussie credentials in fine style.

Night 2 Victory Lane - Mark Dobmeier 1st, Jason Meyers 2nd, Brian Brown 3rd

Geoff Kendrick was at the nationals too. Geoff has had Mark Dobmeier drive for his racing outfit in Australia

Just on the Motorplex –  and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, “The Plex” is a fine venue and needs to be the subject of a separate post. I have a massive archive of photos and stories that will make for some really good reading. That’s later !

Anyway, let’s get back to Night 2 – A Feature.

Cody Darrah set Quick Time on Night 2

 

Cody Darrah set quick time at 15.153 but didn’t figure in the main evant. The A Feature started with a bang. Without getting a full racing lap in, pole sitter Wayne Johnson suffered front end mechanical failure of some description. That regrettably speared him heavily into the turn 1 fence and damage was too severe to allow Wayne to continue.

Tough Luck for Wayne Johnson

 The race was given a full restart. Wayne’s misfortune was Terry McCarl’s fortune as it would be – Terry moved up to pole for the full restart next to Jason Meyers. Unfortunately for Terry, the stint up front didn’t last long, as he and Stevie Smith came together on the front straight-away. Both drivers played their “Work Area” cards and resumed at the tail but couldn’t get to the front again.

Terry McCarl watches closely from the top of his mule

When we got going again and the racing settled, the brilliant Jason Meyers had shot to the lead. He had several car lengths on Dobmeier, Brian Brown and Dale Blaney  who were battling it out amongst themselves, to the point of slowing one another down as Meyers slowly stretched the lead.

Jason Meyers running hard early in the A Feature

Jason Meyers leads Mark Dobmeier and Brian Brown on a restart

 After 7 rotations Stevie Smith ran into more dramas on turn 3. He came to a stop immediately in front of me with front wing damage. I didn’t see who he exchanged paint with but it signalled what a dog of a night Smith was having. Pity really because he had great car speed.

Stevie Smith came to a halt with front wing and other damage

The “Crowd Pleaser” Craig Dollansky who started way back was storming through with some brilliant and bold moves in traffic. Not to be outdone, Lance Dewease was going with him. I hadn’t heard of Dewease prior to coming to America. He’s a clean peddler and was very impressive winning one of his earlier heats. Dewease kept the pressure on making up more ground and slipped past Dollasnsky for 5th  position.

Kevin Swindell running hard, placing the left front on the inside berm to load up the right rear for that extra bite !

Lance Dewease won his heat

Meanwhile at the pointy end Meyers continued to lead, however that was soon to change – with 14 down, Dobmeier’s car was coming on big time. He pulled off a brilliant past on the main straight, making Meyers look like he had stood still. Dobmeier continued pushing forward, stretching his lead to several car lengths.

Mark Dobmeier drove past Jason Meyers to get "fresh air"

In the end Dobmeier crossed the line ahead of a determined Meyers, with Brian Brown securing the final podium place. Dewease drove a ripper race to claim 4th. I must admit I didn’t see him coming, but  “Ragin’ Cajun” Jason Johnson must have also put in a blinder of a ride, coming from toward the rear to claim 5th.

Best finishing Aussie was Brooke Tatnell in 7th.

Brook Tatnell was the best finsihing Aussie in 7th place

It was a great feature, particularly good because of the different in-field perspective.

With Nights 1 & 2 run and won, we now had the first 20 places for the Saturday A Final locked in. This year the format has changed and the scrambles have been dropped. What this effectively means is that the last 4 places in the Saturday Final (21 to 24) will be actually filled by the first 4 finishers in the B Main on Saturday night. Saturday night sees only Feature races, comprising A, B, C, D, and E Mains. So you could conceivably start the E and work all the way to the A Main, but boy that would be a long shot !

The first 20 Starters by row are:

  1. Sammy Swindell, Brad Sweet
  2. Dale Blaney, Jason Meyers
  3. Daryn Pitman, Brian Brown
  4. Mark Dobmeier, Steve Kinser
  5. Fred Rahmer, Davey Heskin
  6. Sam Hafertepe Jr, Austin McCarl
  7. Donny Schatz, Terry McCarl
  8. Kerry Madsen, Paul McMahan
  9. Shane Stewart, Craig Dollansky
  10. Tim Shaffer, Jason Johnson

Plus 2 more rows from the B Main Saturday.

My tip for the Nationals Crown  ……l  ooking at the grid above, I think Steve Kinser is in a handy place, not too far back and his experience will be invaluable….it’s a long, long race…50 laps, with fuel stop, and anything could happen.

Long Shot….Shane Stewart is in flying form, a long way back in 17th, but I reckon he would have to be the dark horse.

We’ll see !

Here’s some more pictures for you …………………….

Earlier in the day "The Crowd Pleaser" Craig Dollansky signed shirts & caps for fans

Brooke Tatnell before the night got serious

One of the Knoxville House Trucks prior the A Main

Steve Kinser completed his racing duties the previous night but still kept a close eye on the night 2 action. Steve starts off position eight in the Saturday A Main

Jason Meyers gets the race face on just before the A Feature

Good Buddies Brooke Tatnell and Randy Hannigan on the in-field

"Fast Timer" Cody Darrah will start row 6 in the B Main and will need to work like a trojan to make the Saturday Final

Craig Dollansky talks tactics with his crew

Jason Johnson will start out of row 10 for the Saturday A Main

Brian Brown drove a great race to bag 3rd position on Night 2

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3 Responses to 51st Knoxville Nationals – Night 2

  1. Benuch Bernard says:

    Hey Paulie, Great picture of you and Steve!! Did you get to see my name on the car?
    And if so could you please take a photo of it? Thanks mate, and keep up the good work.. Cheers! \~/ \~/ \~/

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