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BF's B.S. 08/21/2000

Knoxville 2000 by "B.F." Bill Foland

Knoxville, IA. ...For me to say that the 2000 Amoco Knoxville Nationals were exciting would be an understatement. I haven't been to the Nationals for a couple of years, so I guess I forgot how electric The Nationals are.

I will start out with my trip, it started in the San Jose Airport early (6:20 am. p.s.t) and I left for Las Vegas where I had a 2 hour layover (not usually good news for a gambler like me.) I know what you are thinking but yes I did play the machines at the airport to kill some time. Things weren't going well until I got 4 aces on a Poker machine and won $100. That was the end of my gambling and I got on the plane with $80 more than I came with.

We landed in Omaha, Nebraska and got a rent a car and headed for the track. It is about 160 miles and I got to the track in plenty of time to get a good seat on the back straight (what a view from the top row). Qualifying took forever but when you have over 60 cars on a 1/2 mile that is to be expected. Dean Jacobs picked up fast time with the help of Robert Hubbard turning the wrenches. "Front Row Bob" made Dean a pleasure to watch in qualifying at "Bobville".

The heat races were very exciting with lots of passing and a whole lot of crashing. In the first heat race, Travis Rilat, Kurt Winker and Mike Reinke were involved in a huge crash on the start in turn one (nobody was injured). Donnie Schatz was 58th car to qualify and showed there was still speed in the track and turned in a 6th fast time effort, then proceeded to win his heat race with ease.

Sammy Swindell had a new radically built car that looked similar to Danny Lasoski's and struggled to make transfer in his heat race until a last lap desperate slide job moved Brad Furr out of the way and gained the position. That was the toughest heat race as the field included winner Steve Kinser from 7th, 2nd place Johnny Herrera from 9th, 3rd place Jason Statler from 4th, Sammy, Furr and a disappointed Randy Hannagan in 6th.

Jeff Shepard was 4th fastest and won his heat race with some calculated moves to get to the front. Skip Jackson crashed hard in the heat race and basically ruined his Nationals from there as he was headed to the C-Main for the night. Tim Kaeding was impressive winning his heat race, even after a yellow flag put Andy Hillenburg on his tail he was able to speed away to the win.

The main event was one of the best races I had ever seen at Knoxville and maybe anywhere when all was said and done. No less than seven cars ran second for at least a half lap during the 20 lap contest with Steve Kinser coming out on top after starting 12th. Steve had it tough as he raced with Sammy Swindell for four laps until Steve almost spun in turns three and four but continued and this only seemed to make him faster as he reeled in Sammy and passed him, and then Herrera - then got by Dale Blaney on lap 15 and drove to the $10,000 preliminary night win.

Dale Blaney pulled the best wheelie I have ever seen on a half mile and never lost any speed. Johnny Herrera was strong until fading at the end when a tire sealed over. Donny Schatz came home second after coming on strong at the end to pass Blaney on the last lap. Fourth place went to Hillenburg in a strong run as he got into second on three different occasions. Fifth was Sammy as he faded after Kinser got by. Sixth went to a fast closing Randy Hannagan (from 21st after winning the B-main from eighth) who passed Herrera at the line. Eighth went to Dean Jacobs in a consistent run followed by Jeff Shepard who limped home after losing a cylinder in the first few laps.

On Thursday night another stellar field was intent on making the 2000 Nationals A-Main.

Mark Kinser was fast time but failed to make it out of his heat race after an awesome battle with Stevie Smith who also failed to make the A-Main. Don Droud Jr. was 2nd fast and also didn't transfer into the A-Main. 3rd fast Lance DeWease didn't make it out of the heat race as 4th fast Danny Lasoski was the first one to transfer as was a surprising Byron Reed who was fifth fast then ran third in his heat race. Ninth-quick, Craig Dollansky ran fourth in his heat race behind Lasoski and made it to the A-Main. Jac Haudenschild had problems in his heat race after getting together with Matt Wasmund and the contact broke his steering, earning him a spot in the stout B-main.

Greg Hodnett was another driver who struggled as he timed in 17th fast then looked to have the transfer spot until the white flag lap. After getting hung up behind third place, Hodnett checked up giving Daryn Pittman a chance to slide him which he did successfully and Hodnett nearly collected the wall and failed to make the feature.

The B-Main looked like a great A-Main with Mark Kinser taking the win followed by Jac Haudenschild, Don Droud Jr., Chad Kemenah and a disappointed Stevie Smith. Greg Hodnett had too far to go and not enough time to get there and he failed to make the A-Main, as did Kenny Jacobs, Lance DeWease and Jason Meyers.

The A-Main got off to a strange start as Joey Saldana and Randy Anderson got together in the middle of turns 3 and 4 with Saldana getting upside down before the start. Front row starter Kelly Kinser in the Daugherty 7 got out to the early lead with Paul McMahan in tow. Kinser led for 5 laps until McMahan got by and headed for the promised land. It was not to be for McMahan as Craig Dollansky was flying on the high side and slid McMahan in turn 3 for the lead on lap 11 and drove off. With only one restart and Danny Lasoski on his tail after passing McMahan, Lasoski had nothing for Dollansky as he tried to slide him on the restart to no avail and had to settle for second at the finish. McMahan came home 3rd followed by a very impressive Kelly Kinser. Fifth place went to Mark Kinser (from 21st) followed by Saldana after restarting at the tail after his first lap incident. Seventh place went to 22nd starter Jac Haudenschild, eighth went to Daryn Pittman, ninth to Gary Wright and tenth to Danny Smith.

I have to thank everybody that contributed to pool that I was in and I would have to say that Craig Dollansky definitely was "The Crowdpleaser" in my book after the feature.

The field was now qualified and set for the final two nights of racing. Friday night is always pretty exciting as you get guys that either had problems the first two nights or guys you might not always see up front with the outlaws run up front in the A-Main. On Friday night Heat races went to Californian Duane Bonini Jr. in a stellar run in the first heat race. The second heat race went to PA Posse regular Keith Kauffman. The third heat race was snared by Wisconsin's Joe Roe. The fourth heat race went to Texan, Ronald Laney and the fifth and final heat race went to Doran Doty.

The C-Main went to Aaron Berryhill followed by Tim Monson. The B-main was won by Kevin Huntley followed by Brian Ellenberger after a huge wreck between Shawn Keen and Bob Burkle destroyed both cars.

The A-Main started with Bonini Jr. on the pole with Kauffman on the outside. Bonini Jr. got the jump but Kauffman made a bold move in turn 2 to take the lead and was never seriously challenged for the entire distance. Bonini was running 4th when he spun in turn 3 and almost made in unscathed until Lee Nelson clipped him which sent Nelson flipping wildly through the corner - destroying his car. Kauffman continued to lead over Kerry Madsen and 14th starter Jason Meyers made himself known to the crowd with a great run on the bottom side of the race track. At the finish it was Kauffman over Madsen, Meyers, Len Thompson and Ronald Laney.

The Pole Scrambles were next with Brad Furr taking the C-Main scramble over Calvin Landis, Ricky Logan and Tim Kaeding. The B-main scramble was taken by Don Droud Jr. over Randy Hannagan, Jimmy Carr (in the Parsons 6 replacing injured Brooke Tatnell) and Skip Jackson. The A-Main scramble went on without a hitch as Brian Paulus took the win on the bottom side with Dale Blaney, Craig Dollansky and Mark Kinser following. Danny Lasoski won the Pole position after he beat Donny Schatz in the scramble.

The final race of the night was The Kele World Challenge for the USA/Australian qualifiers. Danny Lasoski came from deep in the field to drive by all racers to win on the top side of the race track for once. Lasoski proved he is able to run Knoxville on the top or the bottom with this impressive run. second place went to Danny Smith, followed by Brad Furr, Donny Schatz and Randy Hannagan. Kerry Madsen was the first Australian across the line in sixth place.

I have to thank Taylor Weld, Gail Custer, Jeff Jordan and Melvin Patterson from Weld Wheels for the hospitality all weekend and the oppurtunity to go into the Weld suite on Friday night.

Now onto Saturday night.... As the races started Dion Hindi took home the E-main followed by Tim Kuhn from Pennsylvania. The D-main was won by Oklahoma's Mike Goodman over Wayne Johnson in a rare 410 start. The C-Main was very exciting as Tim Kaeding made his way from eighth starting to get into second on the high side when a yellow flag came out with two laps to go. Jerrod Hull took off only to brake check and bunched up the field for the second time (Jimmy Carter lost his nose wing on the prior start) which cost Tim Kaeding a transfer spot. Brad Furr was able to get by the stumbling Kaeding. Hull won over Furr and Kaeding with Jason Meyers coming home in 5th and earning the "Rookie Of The Nationals" honor.

In B-Main hot laps Randy Hannagan had a rear axle break which sent him into the wall and upside down hard down the front straight. The car was damaged severely but Hannagan's crew was able to get it back together by the time the B-Main came around. Hannagan broke out to a lead and held on in the 22-lap contest over a quick closing Don Droud Jr., Randy Anderson and Gary Wright. California transplant Peter Murphy in Morrie Williams car finished one spot out in fifth place, with Brad Furr coming from 22nd to finish sixth. Greg Hodnett failed to make the A-Main and for the first time in memory and maybe ever Guy Forbrook didn't have a car in the Knoxville Nationals. Stevie Smith had a huge disappointment as ignition problems forced him out of the B-Main on the first lap.

Now for the A-Main..... The first lap was one of the most exciting laps of the weekend as Danny Lasoski got the jump on Schatz and took the lead going into turn one only to have Mark Kinser come from the 2nd row to take the lead going down the back chute and into turns 3-4. As the lap was completed Donny Schatz was on the move and drove to the top side to take the lead in turn one and drove off to a comfortable lead. The red flag flew after only a few laps as Jeff Shepard spun in turn one and took Dale Blaney and Steve Kinser upside down in the wall. All 3 cars attempted to get back in the race with Shepard going out first and Kinser and Blaney left in the work area. The yellow flag fell for a false start the next lap which enabled Steve Kinser to make it back into the field but Blaney was black flagged after not being able to make the field in time.

Schatz continued to lead as he entered lapped traffic over Mark Kinser with Johnny Herrera, Danny Lasoski and Craig Dollansky exchanging 3rd place on a lap to lap basis. The red flag came out once again just as Schatz was putting a lap on Steve Kinser for a flipping Paul McMahan who exited the car very woozy. Schatz once again opened a lead and with 10 laps to go looked to have a strangle hold on the Knoxville Nationals. That is when I saw Mark making his move. Every lap the wing was farther back and he was going forward in the middle of the racetrack and took the lead with only 4 laps to go and Schatz had nothing for Mark as the race ended with Mark Kinser winning $100,000 over Schatz ($60,000), Lasoski ($30,000), Johnny Herrera (22,500) and Dollansky (15,000).

The next five were Sammy Swindell, Andy Hillenburg, Dean Jacobs, 20th starting Jac Haudenschild and Joey Saldana who got up to sixth before a slide job by Sammy Swindell left him stranded in the middle of the race track and he lost several spots.

It was an amazing race as there was great racing all over the track and I can't wait to get back to the 2001 Nationals.

The following observations that I saw over the space of 4 days:

Special thanks to Bobby and Kim Gerould from HammerdownUSA.com...It was good to finally meet Allen Holland from Hosehead's, he is a very nice man...Great Lemomade was made by Jason Statler and Scott Vogelsong on Saturday night...Tony Iacobitti from Yak Graphics was in the pits with his lovely wife Michelle...Good to meet Tom Schmeh from the National Sprint Car Hall Of Fame on Friday...Good to see Kenny Woodruff back in action with Donny Schatz...Scott Benic was in Craig Dollansky's pit helping him to a prelim night win and a 5th place on Saturday night...There were many signs at or near the Fairgrounds besides the standard S.U.Y.T but the best one was the sign that read "Honk if Sammy Sucks", I can't remember going by it without hearing a horn go off...Good to see Lorri Hall from Illinois (I Hope you like the pictures)...Also good to see and talk with Scott Gerkin and former Steve Kinser crewman Todd Seitz (now with Hoosier Tire)...Always good to see Kelly Westphal from Wesmar Motors even though I didn't see him after his girlfriend got to town...Derricke Cope was seen with Troy Renfro in the Jimmy Carr pits...Bill Woodside was his normal? self as I got to talk to him for a few minutes...Tony Stewart was seen incognito wearing glasses and a beard at the Weld trailer on Thursday...Former Nationals Queen Kendra Jacobs was very busy and has been covering the Gumout series very well this year...Last year's National's Queen Joanne Cram was in attendance as I saw her for the first time since the Super Dirt Cup at Skagit...Jennifer Moore was busy selling Mark Kinser shirts and was also very nice to talk to her again...Kasey Kahne was at the races on Wednesday and Thursday as it looked like he wanted to be racing very badly...Dale Blaney "The Tall Cool One" is a very catchy nickname...California's own Jason Meyers was named "Rookie Of The Nationals" and it was good to see Preston Cross, "Peeps" Darrin Carter and Jason's dad, Dave Meyers...Bill Wilburn has one of the nicest looking trailer with graphics jumping out of the side...Nice to see Mindy Stephens working in the WoO T-shirt booth...Jason Johnson made a ride in the Dave Blaney two-seater worth while as he proposed to Bobbi Meyers on the front straight on Wednesday night...Garry Brazier was the best driver walking the pits with no ride...Brad Furr was very impressive with the help of Mike Harper...Wish I could have made it back to Newton to see Jessica...Duane Bonini Jr. was impressive at The Nationals with the help of Jeremy and Tim...Saw both Lorri McCarl and Patty Haudenschild in the hot sun selling shirts for their husbands...Boston Bob Blair was there and having fun as usual...J.D Kramer was busy running the Ratbag booth as he had three computers set up with the new Sprint Car game...Shane Anderson looked like he lost his best friend after his boy Donny Schatz ran second (there will be many more chances buddy)...A VERY special thanks to Tammy Mills for putting together my travel plans and to her daughter Danielle who learned more about tires than she could ever imagine at The Nationals. If I missed somebody (which I probably di d) I am sorry but I can only cover so much. Until next time, See ya at the races...BF

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