Fast Talkers: Racers Discuss 51st Goodyear Knoxville Nationals

CONCORD, N.C. – Aug. 8, 2011 – In every sport, there’s one event that stands out above all others. In Sprint Car racing, it’s the Knoxville Nationals. There’s history, tradition and, of course, more than $1 million at stake over the course of the four-day event.

Drivers and teams from the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, and those from around the world, converge on the quiet Iowa town of Knoxville, about 45 minutes southeast of state capital Des Moines, once a year for this festival of speed. This week marks the 51st running of the Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, with the entire week coming down to the final 50-lap A-main on Saturday night to see who will be standing in victory lane with a $150,000 haul and a place in racing immortality.

Knowing the stakes, World of Outlaws competitors share their thoughts on the event heading into the week:

Craig Dollansky, #7 Big Game Treestands Maxim: “It’s the Super Bowl race of our sport. To win it would certainly be something very special for this entire team. Not a whole lot of guys have done it over the years so we’re trying to get our team as best prepared as we can and go in there and give it everything we have.”

Chad Kemenah, #63 Golden Flavor Sesame Sticks Maxim: “It’d be huge to win that race. I really can’t put it into words what it would mean to win. It’s literally a who’s who when you look at the winners list. We’ve been pretty close to winning that thing and even ran second one year so we’re just going to take our best stuff and hopefully be close when Saturday rolls around.”

Steve Kinser, #11 Bass Pro Shops/ J.D. Byrider/Chevrolet/ Maxim: “It’s our biggest race of the year and certainly pays the most. If you have to pick one race to win out of the whole year, it would definitely be that one. We ran pretty strong there last year until we ran into some motor troubles. We’ll go back this year and see what we can do and hope for the best.”

Kraig Kinser, #6 Casey’s General Stores Maxim: “It’s a special race for sure. Anyone that grows up around sprint cars knows that it is the big one to win. It’s always the one you dream about winning. I was fortunate enough at a young age in 2005 to get into a good car and good position to win the race. It was all just a matter of having a fast car and the breaks fall our way.”

Bill Rose, #6R KJM Trucking Maxim: “Winning that race would be the biggest achievement of my career, by far. It’s the biggest race of the year and it’s a ton of pressure to get everything right when you go there. You have to bring you’re “A” game and that’s why we are spending so much time to get prepared.”

Cody Darrah, #91 Great Clips Maxim: “It would mean everything to win that race. When you go to the Knoxville Nationals, you realize why you do all of this. It’s one of those events that takes your breath away. There is no other race in our sport that compares to Knoxville. Just all the events and everything that lead up to Saturday are awesome. It would mean the world to me to have one of those under my belt and to be up on the wall next to all the great drivers that have won it before.”

Jason Meyers, #14 All Star Performance KPC: “We won our very first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series race there in 2001 and haven’t been back to victory lane since then. We’ve come close with a few seconds lately. We’re really on a roll right now with our engines, our team and everything so we just want to get there. The Knoxville Nationals is certainly on the top of our list of things to win this year. Last year, it was all about winning that first Outlaws title and we’re trying to win a second one this year, but we certainly want to win some of these bigger marquee races. The Knoxville Nationals has been a big concentration for us all year long and we definitely want to win it.”

Brad Sweet, #9 Red Bull Maxim: “The Knoxville Nationals mean everything to every sprint car driver. We’re excited because our Red Bull car is running great lately and our Ollie’s Bargain Outlets car was really fast there in June. I think we have a really good setup for that track and we’re riding a good wave of momentum so I’m hoping we can come away with a great finish.”

Donny Schatz, #15 STP/Armor All/Chevrolet J&J: “It’s definitely been the highlight of my career. Just to get one, let alone four (Knoxville Nationals trophies) is very special. It’s what you live for in Sprint Car racing. It’s the Holy Grail, the Mac Daddy of them all – the biggest payday, the biggest trophy, the most prestige and the most history. It’s everything. It’s what this sport is all about.” 

Jason Sides, #7s Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim: “The biggest thing is the qualifying nights because there is quite a bit of pressure to make the show. You try to treat it as a normal race and go out do the things you normally. There is quite a bit of prestige when it comes to Saturday night. If you get yourself locked in on the qualifying nights, it’s a little more laid back on Saturday when you go after the big prize.”

Paul McMahan, #83 HR Cattle/Roth Motorsports Maxim: “Anyone that crawls into one of these cars wants to win that race. It’s almost like you set a life goal to win this race. If you won one race in your entire career, you would want it to be the Nationals. Everybody wants to win it because it is our biggest race by far. Winning it means you’ve accomplished something big in your career.”

Kerry Madsen, #92 P.I.H.A/Earth-EX/ Ricochet Transport KPC : “The facility, the prestige and the history are all fantastic at Knoxville. I moved from Australia to there so that would make it extra special. I’m very proud of that. I can’t imagine what it would feel like. We have a lot of fans and friends coming over for it and we’ll just try our best and see what happens.”

Lucas Wolfe, #5w Allebach Racing Maxim: “It’s good to be going to Knoxville and it’s an event you look forward to going there every year. It’s a race that you’re glad to see come up on the schedule because that means the preparing can stop. Sometimes you end up being worn out by the time you even get there. There’s a lot of excitement in and around the event itself so that’s pretty cool. It’s a very important race. When you go there and run well, it can make your season. We ran pretty good there in the lone Outlaw show in June so we’re hoping to continue that and have another good result.”

• For more news and details, follow the World of Outlaws tour at WorldofOutlaws.com.

• For tickets to the Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com

The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Goodyear Tires (Official Tire), Factory Motor Parts, VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), Vicci (Official Apparel); in addition to contingency sponsors, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, RacingJunk.com, KSE Race Products, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo, JE Pistons, Wix Filters and SuperFlow; Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines.