KNOXVILLE, Iowa (August 11, 2018) â€“ Brad Sweet completed a sweep of three events in seven days at the Knoxville Raceway, with his popular victory in front of a sellout crowd in the finale of the 58th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Caseyâ€™s General Stores. The win was worth $150,000 for the Grass Valley, California native and came aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 team. The biggest win in sprint car racing was preceded by wins for Sweet in Thursdayâ€™s qualifying night, and Sundayâ€™s Capitani Classic.
The parade lap for the finale was paced by the Jason Johnson Racing #41. When the green flew, Sweet took off from the pole and led early in the 50-lapper over fellow front row starter, Chad Kemenah, Donny Schatz, Aaron Reutzel and Kyle Larson. Larson moved by both Reutzel and Schatz to take third by lap three. Undeterred, Schatz worked back by Larson on lap six.
Sweet was in lapped traffic by the seventh circuit. Schatz took to the cushion, passing Kemenah for second on lap nine. Larson followed him into third on lap ten. Sweet built a lead of 3.8 seconds on lap 15, while Larson and Schatz engaged in an epic duel behind him. Meanwhile, Kemenah and Reutzel were also battling for fourth.
Rico Abreu was running ninth when he tipped over in turn four on lap 19. He was uninjured. Sweet led Schatz, Larson, Reutzel and Kemenah back to green. Larson slid in front of Schatz for second, before the field stopped for the mandatory red flag period on lap 25. At the time, the top ten included Sweet, Larson, Schatz, Kemenah, Reutzel, Tim Shaffer, Carson Macedo, Kerry Madsen, Shane Stewart and Ian Madsen.
Reutzel jumped into fourth, and Macedo cracked the top five on lap 27. Sweet missed his mark on lap 28, and Larson got by for a pair of laps, before â€œThe Big Catâ€� took control again. He was in lapped traffic and pulling away again on lap 34. Schatz reeled in Larson, passing him with nine to go.
While Schatzâ€™s car was getting better and sizing up Sweet, Kerry Madsen crashed with two to go while running eighth. That set up a two-lap Dash to the checkers.
Sweet hit his marks perfectly, and edged Schatz by .133 of a second. Larson, Reutzel and Tim Kaeding followed. Macedo, Kemenah, Logan Schuchart, Shane Stewart and hard-charger David Gravel rounded out the top ten. Dave Blaney won the D main, Sam Hafertepe Jr. claimed the C main, and Parker Price-Miller took the B main.
Special awards included the Jesse Hockett â€œMr. Sprint Carâ€� Award won by Carson Macedo, and Rookie of the Nationals, won by Gio Scelzi. The Best Appearing Car went to Sheldon Haudenschild, followed by Terry McCarl and Brian Brown. Best Appearing Crew went to the Jason Johnson Racing #41, followed by the Stenhouse/Marshall #17 team and the Tony Vermeer Racing #55.
â€œHow about that sh*t boys and girls?â€� asked an excited Sweet in Victory Lane. â€œI held off two of the best in the business. This car was flying all weekend. It wasnâ€™t easy against the hardest competition in the world. I made a few mistakes. I wasnâ€™t sure if I wanted that (late red) or I didnâ€™t. Donny was breathing down my neck. I thought I better hit these two laps on the bottom perfect. They werenâ€™t perfect, but they were good enough to get the win! I was uptight and nervous all day. That video of Jason Johnson came on (in pre-race ceremonies), and I teared up. My mind went really calm. I knew what Jason would doâ€¦just run the sh*t out of it! Thatâ€™s what I did. I sure hope heâ€™s looking down smiling. I dreamed about the feeling he had when he won it. Itâ€™s unbelievable! I just want to cry, faint, hug, kiss and drink lots of beer!â€�
â€œWe were good at the end,â€� said Schatz. â€œWe just had to go where he wasnâ€™t. That yellow helped us with two to go and gave us a chance. We made the best of it, but he was really good. He could go anywhere on the racetrack. Hatâ€™s off to these guys, they worked awful hard for it. They worked hard for it. We did our bestâ€¦it was just second best.â€�
â€œIt was a lot of fun,â€� said Larson. â€œIt was a good race. I felt we were the best three cars all week. It was a lot of fun racing Donny the first half. I was able to get by him before the break, and give Brad a run there for a little while. Iâ€™m so happy for Brad. Heâ€™ll be my brother-in-law here in a month. Itâ€™s cool to have a family member win the Knoxville Nationals, and to get to duke it out a little bit there with him for the lead.â€�
Mediacom Season Championship Night will crown Knoxville Championship Cup Series champions Saturday, August 25. For more information, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com
D Main (started), 12 Laps, NT: 1. 70, Dave Blaney, High Point, NC (2); 2. 71x, Kevin Thomas Jr., Cullman, AL (3); 3. 7c, John Carney II, El Paso, TX (1); 4. 95, Matt Covington, Glenpool, OK (4); 5. 99G, Skylar Gee, Leduc, ALB, Can. (6); 6. 9R, Rager Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (5) / 7. 17w, Harli White, Lindsay, OK (8); 8. 3P, Sawyer Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (14); 9. 9x, Jake Bubak, Arvada, OH (10); 10. 15M, Bobby Mincer, Burlington, IA (9); 11. 71A, RJ Johnson, Tampa, FL (12); 12. 17B, Bill Balog, Hartland, WI (17); 13. 7, Carson McCarl, Altoona, IA (7); 14. 84, Tom Harris, Banbury, OXFD, UK (16); 15. 25, Bobby McMahan, Elk Grove, CA (13); 16. 2K, Kevin Ingle, Huron, SD (15); 17. 28P, Brian Paulus, Mooresville, IN (11); 18. 18J, Jenna Frazier, Rio Linda, CA (19); 19. 10, Clyde Knipp, California, MO (18) DNS â€“ 85, Chase Wanner, Agency, IA; 12N, Cole Duncan, Lockbourne, OH; 44M, Chris Martin, Ankeny, IA; 28AU, Allan Woods, Brisbane, QLD, Aust.; 21AU, Jordyn Brazier, Sydney, NSW, Aust.; 0, Lynton …read more