KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Aug. 11, 2015) – Sprint car racing fans can rejoice as the crown jewel of sprint car racing, the Knoxville Nationals, is about to begin. The Knoxville Nationals is the Indy 500 for sprint car teams and a huge crowd is expected at Knoxville Raceway for the event that begins Wednesday, Aug. 12.
With well over 100 entrants on the list, it seems the man to beat is Donny Schatz,
winner of the Knoxville Nationals in eight of the past nine years, with 2010 being the exception.
But the key to being a successful racer is to believe in yourself. Most, if not every driver that will hit the dirt for the Knoxville Nationals, believe that Donny Schatz is a great racer, has a great team, but is not invincible.
Joey Saldana, driver of the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M sprint car has yet to win the Knoxville Nationals title but has run second to Schatz three times. But for bad fortune, Saldana had a very good chance of winning at least twice.
One year Saldana was leading with four to go and his left front side board fell off.
Saldana has finished in the top ten that past two years at the Nationals and won the coveted pole in 2013.
“I know we can win it,” said Saldana. “We have the speed to do it. I have the feeling that someone other than Donny will win it this year. Maybe it will be us.
“It is important to treat the Nationals just like any other race and not let the enormity of the event get the best of you.”
With so many cars entered for this event, the field is split into two days of qualifying.
Saldana is scheduled to hit the dirt Thursday. Only the top 50 qualifiers make the heats, the remainder must work their way through last chance heats. Points are awarded for every activity: qualifying position, heat finish, etc. The top 16 in points from Thursday, as well as Wednesday’s group, are locked into the Saturday Knoxville Nationals.
There is more racing Friday including the Speed Sport Knoxville World Challenge, an invitational event with an inverted lineup according to points accrued on Wednesday and Thursday. The top finishing driver among the top three in the World Challenge is eligible for a position in Saturday night’s big show.
The purse for this year’s Knoxville Nationals approaches $1 million.
There will be over 100 teams and drivers vying for the $150,000 winner’s share and bragging rights for the “Granddaddy of them all.”
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