The 61st Knoxville Nationals are set for Saturday night. (Photo by Mark Vonderbork)
Knoxville, Iowa – No Iowa driver has ever won the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals competition.
But Iowa driver Austin McCarrell gets off the ground for the 61st annual event Saturday night at the legendary Knoxville Raceway located at the Marion County Fairgrounds.
McCarl, the son of seven-time Knoxville champion Terry McCarl, is the 2018 track and field champion. He has the most points over two qualifying nights and will start at number 88 from the front row for the first time. His father led the field to the green flag in 2004. He is the third player from Austin McCarll’s first division team.
McCarl shares the front row with Stenhouse driver Jr. Marshall Racing Tyler Courtney. Courtney had the second most points during the playoffs and would make his second start in the Knoxville main event. Courtney is the winner of the All Star Circuit of Champions and Series Points recipient. He also won last year’s Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway.
Most agree that the five favorites to cash the big check after 50 spins will start in positions three through five.
Ten-time Knoxville Nationals winner Donny Schatz starts Tony Stewart’s race 15th. Schatz finished second on Wednesday night and at the Capitani Classic on Sunday. Schatz has shown speed in recent weeks and his ability to prepare a car for half a mile of black dirt is unparalleled.
David Gravel won the Nationals in 2019 while driving Jason Johnson Racing. Gravel starts fourth on board Big Game Motorsports #2. Gravel’s will be 10The tenth Citizens is distinguished and has six places among the top ten in its previous nine beginnings.
Carson Macedo starts Jason Johnson’s #41 race from fifth place. Led by crew chief Philip Dietz, JJR has won the championship twice – with namesake Jason Johnson in 2016 and with Gravel in 2019. This will be Maido’s third major start. His previous best result was eight.
Sixth-place defense will roll for Knoxville Nationals and NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson. Larson will drive the familiar #57 Paul Silva set up after returning to Iowa from the qualifying cup series at the Richmond (Virginia) Raceway.
Larsson not only won the title last year, but led the One&Only title during the 2020 pandemic season. However, Larsson has struggled on the big tracks this season before showing tremendous speed in a race of 22second abbreviation to the fifth on Thursday.
This will be Larson’s seventh special start.
Pennsylvania traveler Brent Marks starts seventh. Marks’ successful season in the #19 M&M race car is well documented. He’s won 13 features, including Kings Royal and Historical Big One at Eldora Speedway. He also won the World of Outlaws main event in Knoxville in June.
Marks’ best effort in his previous three starts was sixth last year.
After reuniting with Pennsylvania car owner Mike Hefner a month ago, Darren Bateman turns 18The tenthThe Knoxville Nationals feature starts from eighth. However, Pittman’s last major A appearance came in 2019 when he finished third with Ruth Motorsports. It was his best result at the national level.
2018 Nationals award winner, Brad Sweet is the owner of 10The tenth The Nationals start aboard Kasey Kahne Racing’s #49. Sweet won last week at the Ironman 55 and has shown great speed in recent weeks. He has six places out of the top ten in his previous nine countrymen.
Skilled Washington rider JJ Heckle, who has raced full-time in the Midwest this season, will start 10The tenth In his first countryman A-main.
Jacob Allen on Thursday won the preliminary attributes to claim his fourth World of Outlaws win of the season. Allen 11 . startsThe tenth On his second voyage from the A-main Nationals aboard the familiar Shark Race No. 1a of his grandfather Bobby Allen.
Parker Price-Miller shows his third citizen out of 12The tenth Leaving point aboard Sam McGhee Motorsports No. 11p.
A pair of Novices in the seventh grade team up with Justin Sanders driving the No. 39 sprint car driven by Kevin Swindell and USAC Dwarf Champion Buddy Kofoid aboard the No. 11x Neumeister Racing.
Tasker Phillips, an Iowa farmer, makes his Nationals debut at the age of 11The tenth Try to qualify for the main event starting at 15The tenth. He starts alongside Knoxville Raceway point leader Aaron Reutzel, who last week won the 360 Knoxville Nationals. Reutzel has earned three places out of the top ten in his previous three national features.
Positions 17 to 10 will be filled through B tubes tonight.
Transfers from Friday’s Hard Knox lineup are in the bottom four, led by race winner Rico Abreu. Abreu makes his seventh film Nationals appearance.
Veteran Keri Madsen will start at 22second abbreviation In his fifteenth main event. His best finish was a runner-up in 2015.
Sheldon Haudenschild and Brian Brown share row 12. Haudenschild starts for the fourth time, while Brown will be in the main event of 12The tenth time. It was runner-up in 2012, 13 and 14.
The heavy-hitters are spread out in main field B with Gio Scelzi and Logan Schuchart, who won the preliminary advantage on Wednesday, sharing the front row. Linton Jeffrey and Zip Wise start in second grade.
James McFadden, Justin Beck, Cole Macedo, Ian Madsen, Casey Kahn and Tim Kaiding round out the top ten.
The night begins with E main, followed by mains D, C and B leading up to the Nationals Grand Final.