|Photo courtesy of DirtVision|
Mother Nature tried. For two hours she tried. A full out gentle rain here, a steady drizzle there. But the Outlaws are some tough birds and they waited her out at Knoxville for the MediaCom Shootout.
43 cars strong at the gate the Outlaws came to duel in front of the watchful eyes of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame which sits outside turn 2. The rain would delay the show for two hours and threaten again later in the evening. But Donny Schatz led the Outlaws into battle on the semi-banked half-mile track and he took no prisoners. He did however, take home the check and the trophy for the second night in a row to sweep the weekend with the Outlaws.
Knoxville’s track record is seven years old. It was set by Brooke Tatnell in May of 2006 with a lap of 14.407 seconds. Tonight's Quick Time winner, Bronson Maeschun would not come close to that turning a lap of 15.018 seconds. The rest of the top five in time were Davey Heskin, David Gravel, Daryn Pittman and Craig Dollansky. Track record holder Brooke Tatnell was in the field but qualified a disappointing 27th.
By the end of qualifying the field would have three scratches for the night: T.J. Peterson, who had an engine expire in practice; Dakota Hendrickson, who was involved in a single car incident in hot laps; and Dustin Selvage, who would go up in smoke on his second qualifying lap. This brought the field down to 40 cars to run the card.
The first heat race of the night was won by Paul McMahan, who pulled a daring first lap slider on Sam Hafertepe out of turn 2 to take the top spot and never looked back. Hafertepe would come home second followed by Craig Dollansky, Bronson Maeschun and Jason Solwold. The normally wide and smooth track had several ruts in turns 1 and 2 and then in the middle of 4 and on to the front stretch. The ruts made passing treacherous and difficult if not timed just perfectly.
The second heat race was won by the King of the Outlaws, Steve Kinser. Kinser took the lead at the green and set sail taking the checkers ahead of teammate Donny Schatz, Kerry Madsen, Davey Heskin and Kraig Kinser. Series regular Chad Kemenah would struggle and pull off the track finishing ninth, relegating himself to the Last Chance Showdown.
The third heat race was won by a hard charging former Knoxville track champion Brian Brown. Brown and Ian Madsen battled until the half way mark when Brown pulled away and left Madsen to battle David Gravel. Tim Kaeding and Brooke Tatnell would complete the transfers.
The fourth heat race was all Jason Sides. From the drop of the green until the checkered flag Sides was in his own zip code. But then the final corner came and the car erupted in a ball of smoke and flame and Sides coasted across the finish line. Into turn 1 the car again erupted into smoke and flames. The power plant in the 7S was done. With the program being escalated by the threat of more rain Sides had seven minutes to get the engine changed and get the car on the starting grid. He was unable to do so and thus was credited with 10th in the dash. Joey Saldana, Daryn Pittman, Mark Dobmeier and Sammy Swindell would all transfer to the A.
There was exactly 8 minutes between the end of the fourth heat and the staging of the Dash. There was very little time for any team to make any changes to the cars. When the Dash went green there were very few positions changed. In all honesty it was almost as if it was run out of habit not desire or need. Brian Brown would dominate the cursory run event with Donny Schatz coming home second.
The hurry up and rush format bit yet another driver in the Last Chance Showdown. Terry McCarl had blown a rear end during his heat race. In the process of changing it and completeing the work, McCarl missed staging and was penalized to the back of the pack where he would finish. The Showdown would be won by the winningest driver in Knoxville Raceway history, Danny Lasoski with Chad Kemenah, Don Droud and Lynton Jeffrey also transferring to the A Main.
In A Main action, Brian Brown and Donny Schatz traded the lead and began to drive away from the field. With six laps complete they were already in traffic. With nine laps in the books, the red flag was displayed for Mark Dobmeier who had blown a right rear tire, tagged the wall, flipped and landed on all fours. Dobmeier exited the car and was okay but the car was badly damaged and Dobmeier’s night was finished.
On the restart, Kerry Madsen suffered right rear tire damage after hitting the wall. He ended up sideways on the front straight and Jason Solwold and Lynton Jeffrey tangled while trying to avoid Madsen. After this delay, racing resumed with Brown leading the way and Schatz challenging. Past the half way point, Brown tangled with a slower car in turn 2 and Schatz got by to take the lead. With six laps remaining, the yellow came out for David Heskin who stopped on the backstretch with a flat left rear tire. Racing resumed with no more interruptions to the checkered flag.
Schatz won the Mediacom Shootout and swept the weekend of racing, Brown was second and the final spot on the podium went to Paul McMahan.
Winner Schatz said of the evening, “This is a tribute to a great race team. I have a great car to drive and I am a very lucky guy. It got real choppy there in 1 and 2 and in 4. The car was decent through the middle but it didn’t get as good as it should have or I just didn’t make good choices with my lines. “
Brian Brown said of his second consecutive second-place finish to Schatz at Knoxville, “Got in behind a lap car there and got bottled up. It’s not the car. I am just getting out-driven period. Donny flat out-drove me again.”
Paul McMahan said, “We had a good run. We got real tight and about knocked the wall down. But in the end we pulled it out. I am real thankful to be here.”
There is little anyone can do about the rain. There is less anyone can do about the time it takes to work a track in after the rain. But to run from the devil to make up a two hour delay is unfair to the fans that bought the tickets to see the race. It is unfair to the drivers who further damaged cars or tore cars up because there was no time to fix them right. Steve Kinser says,"You can’t blame circumstances for misfortune when everyone has the same circumstances." And I know that he is right. But you can blame the people who are in "hurry up so we can go" mode. If you don’t want to be there, if you are afraid of the storm or whatever the reason, call the race and reschedule it. But don’t play running from the devil every night to make up time or to avoid rain. It’s simply not fair to the fans or the drivers.
Under the watchful eyes of the Hall of Fame, the lights are going out and the cars are being loaded. The fans are slowly making their way out of the stands and to their cars to head home. The Hall’s lights slowly go out one suite at a time until all is dark but the single infield light that allows the final packing to be done. The Outlaws are on their way home with notes and lessons that they will bring back in August when it’s time for the Knoxville Nationals.
Qualifying: 1. 96-Bronson Maeschen, 15.018; 2. 56-David Heskin, 15.127; 3. 6-David Gravel, 15.172; 4. 9-Daryn Pittman, 15.191; 5. 7-Craig Dollansky, 15.212; 6. 29-Kerry Madsen, 15.260; 7. 18-Ian Madsen, 15.290; 8. 1-Sammy Swindell, 15.298; 9. 51-Paul McMahan, 15.318; 10. 15-Donny Schatz, 15.332; 11. 21-Brian Brown, 15.357; 12. 71M-Joey Saldana, 15.373; 13. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, 15.412; 14. 11-Steve Kinser, 15.418; 15. 24-Terry McCarl, 15.466; 16. 7S-Jason Sides, 15.467; 17. 91-Dusty Zomer, 15.481; 18. 63-Chad Kemenah, 15.603; 19. 12-Lynton Jeffrey, 15.620; 20. 33-Danny Lasoski, 15.650; 21. 82-Jason Solwold, 15.651; 22. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 15.664; 23. 83-Tim Kaeding, 15.734; 24. 13-Mark Dobmeier, 15.750; 25. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips, 15.751; 26. 23K-Rob Kubli, 15.772; 27. 55-Brooke Tatnell, 15.781; 28. 2-Garrett Dollansky, 15.785; 29. 4-Cody Darrah, 15.798; 30. 49-Josh Schneiderman, 15.818; 31. 17A-Austin McCarl, 15.872; 32. 10-Rager Phillips, 15.888; 33. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 15.901; 34. 6RX-Ryan Bunton, 16.102; 35. 20-A.J. Moeller, 16.113; 36. 47-Don Droud Jr, 16.345; 37. 16-Dustin Clark, 16.486; 38. 10V-Glen Saville, 16.578; 39. 71X-Robert Bell, 17.399; 40. 69-Mike Moore, 17.423; 41. 12P-T.J. Peterson, nt; 42. 7K-Dustin Selvage, nt
Heat 1 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 51-Paul McMahan ; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 3. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 4. 96-Bronson Maeschen ; 5. 82-Jason Solwold ; 6. 91-Dusty Zomer ; 7. 4-Cody Darrah ; 8. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips ; 9. 16-Dustin Clark ; 10. 77X-Wayne Johnson 
Heat 2 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 11-Steve Kinser ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 4. 56-David Heskin ; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 6. 49-Josh Schneiderman ; 7. 6RX-Ryan Bunton ; 8. 23K-Rob Kubli ; 9. 63-Chad Kemenah ; 10. 10V-Glen Saville 
Heat 3 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 21-Brian Brown ; 2. 18-Ian Madsen ; 3. 6-David Gravel ; 4. 83-Tim Kaeding ; 5. 55-Brooke Tatnell ; 6. 12-Lynton Jeffrey ; 7. 17A-Austin McCarl ; 8. 24-Terry McCarl ; 9. 71X-Robert Bell ; 10. 20-A.J. Moeller .
Heat 4 - (8 Laps - Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 7S-Jason Sides ; 2. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 3. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 4. 13-Mark Dobmeier ; 5. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 6. 33-Danny Lasoski ; 7. 47-Don Droud Jr ; 8. 69-Mike Moore ; 9. 10-Rager Phillips ; 10. 2-Garrett Dollansky .
Dash - (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 10 starting positions of A-feature): 1. 21-Brian Brown ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 51-Paul McMahan ; 4. 96-Bronson Maeschen ; 5. 18-Ian Madsen ; 6. 56-David Heskin ; 7. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 8. 11-Steve Kinser ; 9. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 10. 7S-Jason Sides .
B-Main - (12 Laps - Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 33-Danny Lasoski  [-]; 2. 63-Chad Kemenah  [-]; 3. 47-Don Droud Jr  [-]; 4. 12-Lynton Jeffrey  [-]; 5. 4-Cody Darrah  [$200]; 6. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips  [$180]; 7. 77X-Wayne Johnson  [$175]; 8. 10-Rager Phillips  [$160]; 9. 69-Mike Moore  [$150]; 10. 6RX-Ryan Bunton  [$150]; 11. 23K-Rob Kubli  [$150]; 12. 2-Garrett Dollansky  [$150]; 13. 16-Dustin Clark  [$150]; 14. 71X-Robert Bell  [$150]; 15. 91-Dusty Zomer  [$150]; 16. 49-Josh Schneiderman  [$150]; 17. 10V-Glen Saville  [$150]; 18. 24-Terry McCarl  [$150]; 19. 17A-Austin McCarl  [$150]; 20. 12P-T.J. Peterson  [$150]; 21. 7K-Dustin Selvage  [$150]; 22. 20-A.J. Moeller  [$150].
A-Main - (25 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz  [$10,000]; 2. 21-Brian Brown  [$5,500]; 3. 51-Paul McMahan  [$3,200]; 4. 18-Ian Madsen  [$2,800]; 5. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$2,500]; 6. 33-Danny Lasoski  [$2,300]; 7. 6-David Gravel  [$2,200]; 8. 83-Tim Kaeding  [$2,100]; 9. 7-Craig Dollansky  [$2,050]; 10. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$2,000]; 11. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$1,500]; 12. 7S-Jason Sides  [$1,200]; 13. 63-Chad Kemenah  [$1,100]; 14. 11-Steve Kinser  [$1,050]; 15. 71M-Joey Saldana  [$1,000]; 16. 56-David Heskin  [$900]; 17. 96-Bronson Maeschen  [$800]; 18. 55-Brooke Tatnell  [$800]; 19. 82-Jason Solwold  [$800]; 20. 91-Dusty Zomer  [$]; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$800]; 22. 47-Don Droud Jr  [$800]; 23. 4-Cody Darrah  [$]; 24. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr  [$800]; 25. 12-Lynton Jeffrey  [$800]; 26. 13-Mark Dobmeier  [$800]. Lap Leaders: Donny Schatz 1, 15-30; Brian Brown 2-14. KSE Hard Charger Award: 83-Tim Kaeding [+13]