Night 3 at Knoxville is all about determining the rankings for Non Qualifiers.
Included in the affair were two Semi Feature events and an A Main for these Non-Qualifiers, ultimately finalising the order for the Saturday night E, D, C, and B Mains.
Additionally, two specialty races were run on night 3:
- Race of Champions
- World Challenge
These races were not for Championship points, but that didn’t matter one bit as the racing was fast, tight and action packed.
The first Semi Feature was taken out by Kenny Jacobs with Roger Crocket in second. The second Semi Feature was taken out by Kevin Swindell with Chad Kemenah securing second spot.
In the Non Qualifiers A Main, Kevin Swindell was way to good for Lucas Wolfe, Kenny Jacobs and Jac Haudenschild.
The Race of Champions pays a neat $10,000 to win and even $1000 just for the start. It actually replaced the recent Friday night “Scrambles” format of the past few years. The race is open to 2010 National 410 Track Champs and 2010 National Series Champs, plus former Knoxville National winners.
The format was a “Reverse Revenge Draw”, where each Driver drew a number, and then nominated another Driver who was to use that number as their starting position. A cool idea and very entertaining for the crowd as we started to get a feel for who liked who, and more importantly, who held a “gentlemanly” grudge against a fellow racer ! As you can imagine, it resulted in many big names down the back of the grid – I liked it, and it set the scene for some really vigorous racing. Tim Shaffer was “gifted” pole by his young protégé Danny Holtgraver and Danny Schatz was off the rear.
That done, they took the green and headed into turn 1. Unfortunately Kerry Madsen didn’t get through the turn, bicycling his 92 Kenerick Racing rig and coming to rest after a series of violent flips. Kerry was OK but the chassis was bent and his night done. A full car rebuild overnight with a brand new chassis would see Kerry compete again the following night.
It took three attempts to get racing started and Tim Shaffer shot to the lead, looking to be in a class of his own. Shane Stewart started another huge charge again from position 17, and by mid race was placed an incredible 9th position. Lynton Jeffery and Kraig Kinser were trying hard to stay in touch with the leaders.
As the race wore on, Shane Stewart managed to slot into second. A brilliant drive ! …and there was more to come………..
Stewart was thirsty for a win. Shaffer and Stewart were having a great battle out front with Shaffer hugging the pole and Stewart going up near the fence. It was a brilliant spectacle, two completely different racing lines and “stuff all” between the pair. The crowd rose to its feet as the white came out as Stewart gave it all he had. In the end Shaffer crossed the line only three car lengths ahead of the ballistic Shane Stewart – it was superb and typified what Sprintcar Racing is all about. Third place went to Kraig Kinser, followed by Jason Meyers, Sammy Swindell and the Flying Donny Schatz coming from stone motherless last in the line up.
The World Challenge was the Friday Night Finale and run over 20 laps. The race is an International Invitational event (no Championship points) also paying $10,000 to win. To qualify as a Driver you must have raced in specifically nominated blue ribbon events in Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the last 12 months.
The format is officially a 16 car inversion based on the entrants 2011 Knoxville Championship qualifying points. Kerry Madsen had qualified but couldn’t make the race because of the wreck in the prior race.
The first three rows were Bruce White, Lucas Wolfe, Toni Lutar, Jason Sides, Ricky Logan and Jonathon Allard.
As was the case with the Race of Champions, the field took the green only to have a premature stoppage into turn 1, with Brooke Tatnell and Cody Darrah coming together. Also innocently caught up in the incident were Sammy Swindell and Craig Dollansky. Darrah was out, Dollansky went to the work area and rejoined but sporting a rather bent front end. Swindell and Tatnell were OK to keep going.
With the mess cleaned up, we went for a total restart. Dollansky was to only complete another lap before deciding the car wasn’t up to the task and parked it up. Lucas Wolfe set about taking over the lead and placing lapped cars between himself and second placed Jason Sides. Shane Stewart was storming yet again from back in the pack (13th position) and with one to go executed his now “signature lunge” to take second place from Sides. The crowd went ape !
In the end the top 6 were Wolfe, Stewart, Sides, J Johnson, Jeffery and Sammy Swindell.
Wolfe was over the moon, collecting the $10,000 winner’s check and writing his name on the Knoxville Feature Winner list for the first time in his career.
Well done Lucas !