RISING SON: Kraig Kinser
Captures His First Knoxville Nationals Championship
Knoxville, IA — August 14, 2005 —/smaller> By Chris Dolack,
Many racers believe luck plays an important role in winning the Knoxville Nationals, the most prestigious sprint car race in the world.
In the 45th running of the event on Sunday, Kraig Kinser took luck out of the equation. The schedule shuffled and delayed by two days of rain, Kinser raced his way to the pole position in the afternoon and then patiently waited until the evening to dominate the A-main. He charged away from the field to lead all 30 laps and capture the checkered flag worth $140,000, then climbed to the top of the frontstretch fence to celebrate with many of the 30,000 fans who hung around the extra day.
The field was stacked with 13
Kraig Kinser, 20, jumped to the lead in his Steve Kinser Racing Remy Maxim as soon as the green flag waved, with Donny Schatz sliding to the inside of
The leaders caught the rear of the field only 10 laps into the event. Kraig Kinser darted high and low through the traffic when a caution waved with 12 laps to go. It bunched the field with Schatz, Lasoski, Shane Stewart and Kemenah all ready to pounce on Kinser, who had Jac Haudenschild’s lapped car directly behind him.
On the restart, Kinser shot to the top of the track, Schatz tried the bottom, and Lasoski went up and down. The three quickly pulled away once again before another caution waved, setting up a seven-lap shootout to the big money.
Kinser set the pace coming to the green flag and pulled away in the high groove. Schatz and Lasoski raced each other. First Schatz and Lasoski went to the top, then Lasoski cut back to the low groove but Schatz fought him off.
Kinser, meanwhile, was pushing his machine as hard as he could, not able to see he had opened a bit of an advantage coming to the checkered flag for the biggest victory in his young career.
Schatz finished second for the fourth time in the Knoxville Nationals. Lasoski, who accumulated the most points after the opening two qualifying rounds, wound up third followed by second-qualifying night winner Stewart, Kemenah and Kerry Madsen, who was the highest finishing
“We were joking, ‘Well, now we just need 30 good laps around the front,’” said Kraig Kinser, the 2004 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year from Bloomington, Ind. “I was joking around in the pit area about that, but then you step back and look at the lineup and see 23 of the best sprint car drivers in the world behind you. You know you’ve got to go, and you know you have to have perfect laps, but even if you have perfect laps sometimes it doesn’t work out for you.
“I knew we had to have a lot of luck this weekend and be strong every time we hit the track. I think we definitely accomplished that. We were a threat every time we went on the track.”
Emotions were high afterward. Steve Kinser grabbed the microphone in
“He’s great,” Bob Kinser said of his grandson. “He’s done a hell of a job. He drove a perfect race. He put it right where he needed to put it and left it there. Once or twice he drove down, but he was trying to pass cars. You can’t follow a car and pass it. He did a heck of a job.
“I’m so happy I just can’t explain how good it feels.”
Neither could Kraig, who still is racing with a bandaged left hand to protect it from infection after it was burned last month at Williams Grove Speedway when the fuel nozzle broke off on the final lap of a heat race, igniting a fire that injured not only his hand but also his left leg.
“The cautions helped me a little bit, I opened up a lead,” he said. “I didn’t hear anyone back there so I knew I was pretty good. I was getting around the track really good the whole race so I knew we were going. On that first long run, I got spinning a little bit on the end of it and I was worried about blistering my left rear, which it ended up doing but it worked out fine. Every time a flag came out, the tires got cool and we were able to go again real good for about five or six laps and then we’d fall off a little bit. But it was just racing. Your tires are going to fall off a little bit.”
For Schatz, another second-place run with his ParkerStores machine in the Nationals, this one worth $70,000, is an accomplishment in itself even if he sees otherwise.
“The thrill of second is really gone, I guess,” said Schatz, who returns home on Tuesday with the Outlaws to race at Red River Valley Speedway near
“We definitely needed to not have the yellows and we needed lapped traffic. We did have the lapped car of Jac Haudenschild in there the one time. He actually told me on the yellow he was going to go to the bottom and he went to the top. Maybe his computer is backwards tonight. That’s just the way it goes. It’s not his fault. We pushed as hard as we could and couldn’t get it done.”
Lasoski, a long-time competitor at Knoxville Raceway and the 2001 Outlaws champion, was focused on winning this race for much of the season.
“I want to thank all of Tony Stewart Motorsports for putting out the effort they did,” said Lasoski, of
No doubt the title would begin to sink in later in the night, but immediately afterward Kraig Kinser was swarmed by hoards of media and fans.
“I’m not feeling it right now,” he said. “Probably when I wake up in the morning I’ll feel it more. Twenty years down the road I’ll probably appreciate what I’ve accomplished, but I can’t explain it right now. It’s just unbelievable.
“I hope to be around sprint cars in some way until the end of my days. I hope I never leave this great sport.”
Still, for an athlete who has excelled in every sport he has competed in, ascending to the top of sprint car racing at such a young age is not lost on him, thanks to years of watching his father dominate.
“When I played basketball, wrestled or raced, it was always against good people,” he said. “It feels good to say I’m a Knoxville Nationals champion. Every day that goes by I’ll appreciate it more and more, just how hard these things are to win. It took me five years and to come from barely making the shows to running up front here, it’s just and unbelievable feeling.”
Just like when he won the first
“We have to get ready to go to
A much deserved celebration, no doubt.
• Through the first two nights of qualifying, Danny Lasoski had earned the most points. In the Knoxville Nationals format, Kraig Kinser earned the pole position for the A-main after a fourth-place finish in a scramble. Lasoski finished ninth in the scramble and started the main event on the outside of Row 3.
• The 2005 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year was 17-year-old Kaley Gharst. Geoff Dodge was the highest finishing rookie eligible to win the Fast Track to Indy program, winning a test session in a Menard Infiniti Pro Series car in October. If Dodge passes the test, the
• Rush Racing’s TRU FIRE No. 8 Eagle driven by Brooke Tatnell was declared by fans to be the Best Appearing car during the Nationals in the XR Best Appearing competition presented by HyVee. In addition, the Rush Racing team was declared the Best Appearing crew to complete a sweep, which netted the group $10,000 in cash and awards. The team spent about $20,000 in paint and apparel that drove fans to www.sprintcarxr.com to vote for it.
• The weather that knocked out two nights of racing during caused the event to miss its Saturday date for the first time in more than 15 years. By running the race on Sunday, it was not able to be televised. A statement from the track said senior management at Knoxville Raceway and Speed Channel worked throughout Saturday to keep the four-hour live broadcast, even extending the start time to 11 p.m. Eastern. When it was determined the races would be rescheduled to Sunday, Speed Channel … worked with Knoxville Raceway to find a mutually acceptable prime-time slot for a highlights show.” That allowed the racing program to run Sunday rather than postponing the event to the fall.
• The final program began with an E-main. Greg Jones and Tyler Houseman advanced from that race into the D-main. Danny Smith and Mike Kertscher moved from the D-main to the C-main. Clint Garner and Ed Lynch Jr. dominated the C and moved into the B-main, where Jason Solwold, Daryn Pittman, Tim Shaffer and Jac Haudenschild worked their way into the A-main.
• Kraig Kinser’s victory at Knoxville Raceway was his third this season on a half-mile oval.
• Fred Rahmer and Shane Stewart captured the A-mains on the two qualifying nights. Sammy Swindell won the non-qualifier A-main Sunday afternoon. Daryn Pittman captured the Clean-O World Challenge for the second consecutive year.
• All teams competing in the event earned 75 points in the
• There’s no rest for the Outlaws after completing the Nationals. The series begins a swing to the West Coast Aug. 16 with a one-night show at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D., before invading Billings Motorsports Park on Aug.19-20 in Billings, Mont.; Grays Harbor Speedway Aug. 26-27 in Elma, Wash.; and Cottage Grove Speedway Aug. 30 in Cottage Grove, Ore.
• The Outdoor Channel will air the Cleveland Brothers Summer Nationals from Williams Grove at 8 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 17 and the Polydome Princeton National from Princeton Speedway on Aug. 24.
• The Official
• If fans can’t get to a track to see the series, they can experience the excitement of the
E Feature (10 laps)
/smaller>1. Greg Jones, Earlham IA
2. Tyler Houseman, Runnells IA
3. Jamie McDonald, Birkenhead Point, NI, NZ
4. Mark Dobmeier, Grand Forks ND
5. Robert Huisken, Marne MI
6. Colin Northway, Marion IA
7. Robert Bell, Colfax IA
8. Ty Bartz, Howards Grove WI
9. Mike Deavers, Normal IL
10. Sean Walden, Bentonville AR
11. Matt Wasmund, Jackson MN
12. Tim St. Arnold, Des Moines IA
D Feature (12 laps)
1. Danny Smith, Danville IN
2. Chad Meyer, Sioux Falls SD
3. Mike Kertscher, Fredonia Wi
4. Luke Cranston, Ness City KS
5. Ryan Anderson, Charter Oak IA
6. Josh Higday, Des Moines IA
7. Seth Brahmer, Wisner NE
8. Dusty Zomer, Brandon SD
9. Jon Agan, Knoxville IA
11. Jesse Hockett, Warsaw MO
12. John Lambertz, Sioux Falls SD
13. Mike Erdley, Elizabethville PA
14. Roger Crockett, Eugene OR
15. Kevin Huntley, Bloomington IN
16. Bob Bennett, Lewisberry PA
17. Brent Antill, Ankeny IA
18. Matt Moro, Ankeny IA
19. Lynton Jeffrey, Sydney, NSW, Aust.
20. Dave Enders, Kiel WI
21. Greg Jones, Earlham IA
C Feature (15 laps)
1. Clint Garner, Sioux Falls SD
2. Ed Lynch Jr., Apollo PA
3. Cody Geldart, Mossley, ONT, Can.
4. Jesse Giannetto, Palo IA
5. Brandon Wimmer, Fairmont IN
6. Sammy Swindell, Germantown TN
7. Kevin Swindell, Germantown TN
8. Blake Feese, Saybrook IL
9. Paul McMahan, Nashville TN
10. Ryan Coniam, Burlington, ONT, Can.
11. Johnny Herrera, Albuquerque NM
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Olive Branch MS
13. Jeff Mitrisin, Oskaloosa IA
14. Geoff Dodge, Colorado Springs CO
15. Calvin Landis, Knoxville IA
16. Danny Smith, Danville IN
17. Jaymie Moyle, Knoxville IA
18. Mike Moore, Des Moines IA
19. Bob Weuve, Newton IA
20. Mike Kertscher, Fredonia Wi
21. Danny Jennings, Norman OK
22. Jonathan Allard, Chico CA
B Feature (22 laps)
1. Jason Solwold, Mt. Vernon WA
2. Daryn Pittman, Owasso OK
3. Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa PA
4. Jac Haudenschild, Wooster OH
5. Tim Kaeding, San Jose CA
6. Travis Rilat, Forney TX
7. Greg Hodnett, Memphis TN
8. Justin Henderson, Sioux Falls SD
11. Kenny Jacobs, Holmesville OH
12. Jason Sides, Bartlett TN
13. Greg Wilson, Benton Ridge OH
14. Ricky Logan, Little Rock AR
15. Stephen Allard, Chico CA
16. Erin Crocker, Wilbraham MA
17. Jason Johnson, Eunice LA
18. Kaley Gharst, (R) Decatur IL
19. Ed Lynch Jr., Apollo PA
20. Travis Whitney, Champlin MN
21. Don Droud Jr., Lincoln NE
22. Clint Garner, Sioux Falls SD
A Feature (30 laps)
1. Kraig Kinser, Bloomington IN
2. Donny Schatz, Fargo ND
3. Danny Lasoski, Dover MO
4. Shane Stewart, Bixby OK
5. Chad Kemenah, Findlay OH
6. Kerry Madsen, Sydney, NSW, Aust.
7. Steve Kinser, Bloomington IN
9. Daryn Pittman, Owasso OK
10. Craig Dollansky, Elk River MN
11. Brooke Tatnell, San Souci, NSW, Aust.
12. Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa PA
13. Lance Dewease, Fayetteville PA
14. Fred Rahmer, Salfordville PA
15. Jason Solwold, Mt. Vernon WA
16. Randy Hannagan, Pittsboro IN
17. Billy Alley, Lincoln NE
18. Terry McCarl, Altoona IA
19. Jeremy Campbell, Monroe MI
20. Jac Haudenschild, Wooster OH
21. Wayne Johnson, Norman OK
22. Skip Jackson, Sydney, NSW, Aust.
23. Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow OK
24. Joey Saldana, Brownsburg IN
Lap Leaders: K. Kinser 1-30