Sioux Falls driver Justin Henderson prevailed over 66 other Sprint Car Combatants in the Night 3 A-Main for the running of the 52nd Knoxville Nationals. Second across the line in the 25 lap feature was David Gravel followed by Dale Blaney and Cody Darrah rounding out the final transfers (P17, 18, 19 and 20) to Saturdays Night’s $150, 000 to win A-Feature. Just missing out on the transfer was Australia’s Kerry Madsen who had a spirited run in the final laps with Cody Darrah and will now have to start from P11 in the Saturday night B-Main.
Running a new Friday Night format this year where the initial (Wed or Thurs) Qualifying Results of the drivers who have not yet transferred to the Saturday Night A-Main is erased, competitors are allowed to do it all over again in a program that encompasses a new round of Time Trials, 7 heats of 8 laps and three B-Features (12 laps). The first four Drivers in the Friday A-Main transfer directly to the Saturday final.
The logic behind the change is that if a Driver is to have rotten luck in either his/her Wednesday or Thursday Night Qualifying, they get a second chance to “make good” as compared to coming out of say the E or D-Main on Saturday night.
This ended up playing directly into Justin Henderson’s hands as he coasted to victory and transferred to Saturdays A-Feature. Also capitalising on the outcome of the new format was Dale Blaney who blew an engine in Thursday Qualifying during hot laps and was unable to change it in time to register a result – a classic example of why the format change has come about as Blaney would have normally started from the E-Main Saturday night, but under the new structure, coming home third in tonight’s A-Main means he transfers directly to P19 in the Nationals Final – What a huge difference !
Justin Henderson timed in 15th quickest (15.468) and came 2nd in his heat allowing him to start P6 in the A-Main. Quick timer was David Gravel (15.126) while best Aussie was Jamie Veal (15.314).
Danny Lasoki’s Knoxville campaign started to mimic his poor performance last year as he could only manage 21st in time trials, while a flat rear tire in the A-Main tonight put paid to any vague chance of a direct transfer to the Saturday Championship race.
Heat races were taken out by David Gravel, Wayne Johnson, Dale Blaney, Jac Haudenschild, Terry McCarl, Jeff Swindell, Danny Lasoski. Steve Kinser won B Feature 1, while Chad Kemenah took B Feature 2 and Bronson Maeschen B Feature 3.
In keeping with tradition, the Friday Finale race was the World Challenge where 24 cars compete for $10,000 in a 20 lap feature. To be eligible to run this race, Drivers must have qualified at this year’s Knoxville National and competed in any one of a couple of prequalification races in Australia and New Zealand.
Donny Schatz collected the win from Sammy Swindell and Jason Meyers. Schatz telegraphed to the crowd with his victory that he still remains a very real change of taking the Nationals Crown tomorrow night along with the cool $150,000 pay check. He is well place starting out of P5 in the 52nd Knoxville Nations grid. Best placed Aussies were Kerry Madsen (6th) and James McFadden (8th). Brooke Tatnell elected to use his own car (1AU) for this event (only) and crossed the line in a disappointing 11th.
Pole sitter for the 52nd Knoxville Nationals Saturday A-Main is Stevie Smith. Craig Dollansky will start 2nd, while Jonathan Allard and Brian Brown form the second row. Ian Madsen starting out of P11 is the only Aussie in the top 20.
A few Big Names are starting out of the B-Main including Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Greg Hodnett, Terry McCarl, Kerry Madsen, Jason Johnson, Tim Shaffer and Chad Kemenah just to name a few.
It’s going to be an action packed Saturday Night – No more heats, just Mains – ALL 5 OF THEM ! (E, D, C, B, A)