KNOXVILLE 360 AND 410 NATIONALS REVIEW

Torque Tube’s American Correspondent and Sprintcar “Tragic” Dan Zimmermann takes a close look at who’s hot for this years 360 Nationals (2, 3, 4 August) and the 410 Nationals (9, 10, 11 August).

A fantastic panoramic view of the 2009 Knoxville Nationals

G’day mates, sorry for the hiatus here. I’ve been on a family holiday and we’ve had a lot going on despite the wretched heat wave we are experiencing. My car showed a temp of 109f (41c) yesterday. It was hard to go outside. This weather reminds me of what the middle of our winter is like when it hurts to go outdoors but obviously for the cold. In any event, our racing season is quickly winding down at the Knoxville raceway. It is hard to believe that in a little over a week, the 360 Nationals will kick off our Iowa Speedweek. The entries for the 360 and 410 nationals are pouring in and we hope to have 100 cars or more for each event. I also greatly look forward to the USAC Ultimate Challenge in Oskaloosa which has the wingless 410’s of USAC broadsliding their way around the big half mile in Osky. It is impressive to say the least. I will have articles and photos from these events along with photos from my mate Seve who will be shooting at most of the races.

We are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Aussie mates, Matt, Wendy, and Jay Stock, Jason Cogan, Bruce Stephens, and Graham Summers. The campground looks a little brown from the heat wave but we are making preparations for everyone’s arrival. I very much hope that Matt, Bruce, and Graham are having a great time in the states right now. Nationals is also special as many friends of our’s from other states arrive in Knoxville for the week. Those states are Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Colorado, and Montana. It is always the best time of the year!

The Bus House Gang has been a fixture at the Knoxville Nationals since 1985. That was the first year a few of us camped on the grounds behind the grandstands. We were in high school or younger at the time and were thrilled to be able to stay at the track and not have to go home each night. Most of our group have been going to the races in Knoxville since the late 70’s. In 1988 we started using Grandpa Long’s converted school bus as a camper. This bus was primarily used for fishing trips to Canada but we determined it would be great for camping at the Nationals. We were able to camp at the track behind turn 3 and 4 until 1995. The public camping was moved from this area so racers and their teams could camp there. Those of us who were displaced found camping at the Knoxville D.O.T. building for a few years until our final migration to the north campground where we have all been season campers for several years. The Bus has made to every nationals since 1988 and many good times have been had there. Several racing personalities have spent time hanging out with us, I’ll keep their names anonymous! We met Aussie Jason Cogan in 1992, he had come back to our camping area to find someone to have a beer with and we were the people he hung out with. A year later, his mate Matt Stock and Matt’s dad Dave accompanied Jason to the nationals and we’ve been friends ever since.

The racing at Knoxville has been intense over the season and especially the last month. The 410 features have had multiple passes for the lead and a surprise winner. Bronson Maechin won the July 14 feature which was his first in the 410 class. He is usually quick on the charts for time trials and runs well in his heats but have not made the top of the podium in the feature until now. He has been racing at Knoxville for several years and was ecstatic to be in victory lane. Last week’s feature came down to a shootout between Brian Brown and Terry McCarl. Terry led the distance until being trapped behind a lapped car through the final corner and Brian swept around him to take the checkers. It was a great night for Brian and the FVP/Casey’s crew as they also won the 360 class feature that night.

Davey Heskin is still leading the point standings and he’s been very consistent this season outside of a crash during the June WoO race. Terry McCarl is in second but with only a couple more race meetings, his chances of taking another track championship at Knoxville are getting slim. Bronson Maechin has moved up to 3rd and its only 7 points ahead of Mark Dobmeier in 4th and 12 points ahead of Dusty Zomer in 6th. Ian Madsen has had a nice season this year and is running in 6th with one feature victory to his credit. Lynton Jeffrey sits in the 8th spot. This hasn’t been talked about much but there is an extremely close battle for the rookie of the year award for the 410 class. Rob Kubli and Tasker Phillips are tied with 640 points. Aussie Glen Saville is right behind them with 637 points. Glen has been steadily improving each week and more importantly rolling the car back on the trailer in one piece after each night of racing. I will be watching closely to see if Glen can pull this battle out and take the Rookie of the year award. Aussie Jamie Veal is back to compete in the World Challenge and in both Nationals. He ran his 360 on July 14 and bolted the 410 in last weekend’s competition.

Clint Garner has basically sewn up the 360 championship but his domination has subsided a bit as the last 4 features have been won by Brian Brown, Kaley Gharst, RJ Johnson, and Tony Schilling. Matt Moro has been impressive in time trials the last 4 weeks with two quick times, one 2nd, and one 3rd. The 360 class will be taking 2 lap time trials in preparation for next week’s 360 nationals. Matt is in 3rd place in the point standings behind Nate Van Haaften who won a feature in May. Joe Beaver and Russ Hall round out the top 5. Jamie Ball was having a good season but a crash on June 30 left him with a badly damaged elbow and arm. He is recuperating well but has a long recovery ahead of him. Hopefully he can get back on track for 2013.

I’ve come up with my 360 and 410 rankings based on the pre-entries as of today. I’m very excited to watch Kyle Larson, Tim Kaeding, the Pa Posse members, Trey Starks, and David Gravel race in the 410 nationals as those are drivers we normally don’t get to see. Trey Starks was very impressive at Knoxville during the April WoO race. He won the dash for the right to sit on the pole for the A main in only his second start at Knoxville. Jason Meyers is coming back to Knoxville in a car owned by Tom Tarlton. Incidentally, the Tarlton racing team bought quite a bit of equipment from Jason when they liquidated the WoO champ’s inventory. Jason should be racing familiar cars and engines, it remains to be seen if any rust has set in during the summer as he hasn’t been racing much. Brian Sebetto makes his debut at the nationals. He is the defending Fremont/Attica points champion. Aussies entered in the 410 nationals include Kerry and Ian Madsen, Lynton Jeffrey, Jamie Veal, Bruce White, Domain Ramsey, Glen Saville, and Marty Perovich.

My 360 rankings list is as follows, there are a lot of tough competitors entered and I had to leave a few off who could make some real noise like Gary Wright, Danny Jennings, Danny Smith, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, RJ Johnson, Brad Loyet, Darren Long, Dennis Moore Jr., and Matt Covington.

Rank   Car #   Driver Name

1    41    Jason Johnson

2   77x   Wayne Johnson

3  1M   Danny Lasoski

4   57    Shane Stewart

5   21    Brian Brown

6   27    Daryn Pittman

7   3G    Stevie Smith

8  56   Davey Heskin

9  99    Brady Bacon

10   22h    Randy Hannagan

11   21m    Jason Meyers

12   49   Brad Sweet

13   40   Clint Garner

14  83    Tim Shaffer

15   94    Terry McCarl

16   1    Paul McMahan

17   45x    Johnny Herrera

18   0s   Jeff Swindell

19   23    Seth Bergman

20  55    Trey Starks

21  81    Danny Wood

22   82    Justin Henderson

23   91    Dusty Zomer

24   1    Sam Hafertepe

25   14t    Brooke Tatnell

26   7x    Dustin Selvage

27  0    Jonathan Allard

28  1k    Kyle Larson

29   2m   Matt Moro

30   2mx    Dustin Daggett

 

My 410 rankings based on the pre-entries as of today are below. There is a couple cars not currently entered that I’m fully expecting to be entered before next week.:

Rank   Car #   Driver

1   1 Sammy    Swindell

2  15    Donny Schatz

3   7    Craig Dollansky

4   21   Brian Brown

5   33 or 1z    Danny Lasoski

6   77x    Wayne Johnson

7   9    Joey Saldana

8  11k    Kraig Kinser

9   29    Kerry Madsen

10  7   Jason Sides

11  56    Davey Heskin

12   11    Steve Kinser

13   57    Shane Stewart

14   27    Daryn Pittman

15   41    Jason Johnson

16   49    Brad Sweet

17   13    Mark Dobmeier

18   39   Greg Hodnett

19   19    Stevie Smith

20  83    Tim Kaeding

21   83    Tim Shaffer

22   2    Dale Blaney

23   91    Dusty Zomer

24   30c    Lance Dewease

25  13x    Paul McMahan

26   55x   Trey Starks

27   63    Chad Kemmenah

28   35    Tyler Walker

29   89g    David Gravel

30   82   Justin Henderson

 

The Bus House Gang 410 composite rankings based on the pre-entries as of today are listed below. This is the average of individual rankings from 5 BHG members to come up with this list.

 

This is our Bus House Gang composite rankings for the 360 Nationals:

I’ll close with a few pictures from past Nationals and I know those of us who are attending will try our best to give you updates and photos from the Sprint Car Capital of the World!

Cheers!

Dan Zimmermann

 

All photos from the Dan Zimmermann picture vault

This is our group photograph with most of the group from 1993. Aussie Jason Cogan is on the far left and a young looking Matt Stock is seated in front of Eric Simpson (in red). Incidentally Eric is the team chaplain for the Indianapolis Colts now. I am on the far right.

In 1995 we thought it would be a good idea to erect a flagpole on top of the bus. This was the last year we camped behind turn 3 and 4. You could see the top of the flagpole from the grandstands. The flagpole was almost 30 feet high!

Lawn chair demolition derby was an after racing activity for several years as shown by this 1999 photo

Eric Arnold with one of our all time favorite drivers, Doug Wolfgang

A more recent Bus House Gang group photo from 2009

Bus House Gang Members and Visitors at the 2011 Nationals

BHG member "Seve" shows off some of the memorabilia items in the "Brown Bus" - Pictured is Shane Stewart taking a massive tumble at the Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic in Warrnambool, Australia

John "410" Bowers enjoys a drink in the bus with fellow BHG member Jody Connor

Knoxville is the Capital of Sprint Car Racing

The Totem Pole lap counter and big screen at Knoxville is iconic

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