by Bill Wright
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (August 11, 2018) – 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 Casey’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 Thursday’s qualifying night, and Sunday’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 “The Big Cat” 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 Schatz’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 “Mr. Sprint Car” 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.
“How about that sh*t boys and girls?” asked an excited Sweet in Victory Lane. “I held off two of the best in the business. This car was flying all weekend. It wasn’t easy against the hardest competition in the world. I made a few mistakes. I wasn’t sure if I wanted that (late red) or I didn’t. Donny was breathing down my neck. I thought I better hit these two laps on the bottom perfect. They weren’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 do…just run the sh*t out of it! That’s what I did. I sure hope he’s looking down smiling. I dreamed about the feeling he had when he won it. It’s unbelievable! I just want to cry, faint, hug, kiss and drink lots of beer!”
“We were good at the end,” said Schatz. “We just had to go where he wasn’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. Hat’s off to these guys, they worked awful hard for it. They worked hard for it. We did our best…it was just second best.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Larson. “It 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. I’m so happy for Brad. He’ll be my brother-in-law here in a month. It’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.”
Mediacom Season Championship Night will crown Knoxville Championship Cup Series champions Saturday, August 25. For more information, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com
Results of the 58th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores
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 – 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 Jeffrey, Sydney, NSW, Aust.; G1, Gary Taylor, Snohomish, WA; 28, Scott Bogucki, McLaren Vale, SA, Aust.; 11, Roger Crockett, Broken Arrow, OK; 2c, Wayne Johnson, Tuttle, OK; 5J, Jamie Ball, Knoxville, IA; 4K, Kasey Kahne, Enumclaw, WA; 2mm, Matt Moro, Polk City, IA; 20, AJ Moeller, Rockwell City, IA; 91, Kyle Reinhardt, Neptune City, NJ
C Main (started), 15 Laps, NT: 1. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX (2); 2. 39, Spencer Bayston, Lebanon, IN (6); 3. 35P, Skylar Prochaska, Lakefield, MN (1); 4. 17x, Josh Baughman, Odessa, TX (13); 5. 44, Trey Starks, Puyallup, WA (3) / 6. W20, Greg Wilson, Benton Ridge, OH (8); 7. 7w, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (15); 8. 29, Willie Croft, Fresno, CA (16); 9. 70s, Jeff Swindell, Bartlett, TN (17); 10. 68, Chase Johnson, Penngrove, CA (11); 11. 81, Lee Jacobs, Dalton, OH (10); 12. Kevin Thomas Jr. (20); 13. Dave Blaney (19); 14. 17wx, Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA (18); 15. 1x, Don Droud Jr., Lincoln, NE (7); 16. 91T, Cale Thomas, Fairland, IN (4); 17. 40, Clint Garner, Sioux Falls, SD (5); 18. Skylar Gee (23); 19. Rager Phillips (24); 20. 19P, Paige Polyak, Tiffin, OH (14); 21. John Carney II (21); 22. Matt Covington (22); 23. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK (12) DNS – 3H, James McFadden, Ormeau, QLD, Aust.; 21K, Thomas Kennedy, Winnipeg, MB, Can.; 48, Danny Dietrich, Gettysburg, PA
B Main (started), 22 Laps, 6:18.5: 1. 71P, Parker Price-Miller, Kokomo, IN (1); 2. 9, Daryn Pittman, Bixby, OK (3); 3. 5, David Gravel, Watertown, CT (7); 4. 4, Brock Zearfoss, Jonestown, PA (4) / 5. 2KS, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA (9); 6. 24w, Lucas Wolfe, Mechanicsburg, PA (2); 7. 17, Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (11); 8. 19, Brent Marks, Myerstown, PA (16); 9. 13, Mark Dobmeier, Grand Forks, ND (6); 10. 35, Jamie Veal, Warrnambool, VIC, Aust. (12); 11. Spencer Bayston (22); 12. Sam Hafertepe Jr. (19); 13. 11K, Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN (10); 14. 83, Cory Eliason, Selma, CA (5); 15. 55, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (18); 16. 1, Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN (13); 17. 56N, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (14); 18. 49J, Josh Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA (20); 19. Skylar Prochaska (21); 20. 7s, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN (17); 21. 97G, Hunter Schuerenberg, Sikeston, MO (15); 22. Trey Starks (24); 23. 5H, Sammy Walsh, Orangeville, NSW, Aust. (8); 24. Josh Baughman (23) DNS – 26, Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, IN
A Main (started), 50 Laps, NT: 1. Brad Sweet (1); 2. Donny Schatz (4); 3. Kyle Larson (3); 4. Aaron Reutzel (5); 5. Tim Kaeding (10); 6. Carson Macedo (8); 7. Chad Kemenah (2); 8. Logan Schuchart (17); 9. Shane Stewart (15); 10. David Gravel (23); 11. Ian Madsen (11); 12. Tim Shaffer (7); 13. Jacob Allen (12); 14. Gio Scelzi (9); 15. Greg Hodnett (14); 16. Dominic Scelzi (25); 17. Daryn Pittman (22); 18. Parker Price-Miller (21); 19. Brock Zearfoss (24); 20. Matt Juhl (20); 21. Paul McMahan (19); 22. Kerry Madsen (6); 23. Terry McCarl (16); 24. Rico Abreu (13); 25. Brian Brown (18). Lap Leaders: Sweet 1-27, Larson 28-29, Sweet 30-50. Hard-charger: Gravel.