WorldofOutlaws.com takes a look at the starting lineups for tonight’s 51st running of the Goodyear Knoxville Nationals and lets you know what to watch for…
The Top 10
Sammy Swindell: Swindell would be an easy pick for favorite of the race. As fast as Swindell has been in the preliminary nights coupled with an open track at the beginning of the 50-lap A-Main could spell danger in a big way for the other 23 starters. The Nationals winner has historically been good all week, and Swindell has fit the mold in that respect.
Brad Sweet: What a surprise as Sweet has commanded everyone’s attention earning quick time honors during preliminary action on Wednesday and turning in a solid performance in the 25-lap A-Main. As strong as this car has been with Joey Saldana behind the wheel in previous years, Sweet could easily be the driver that nobody expected to win that ends up making noise. The question remains can Sweet pull out a win…on sprint car racing’s biggest stage no less.
Dale Blaney: “The Lowrider” has been quietly consistent at Knoxville this year. Most people wouldn’t associate Blaney with Knoxville success but he may reversing that trend with his effort this year. Blaney starting third on a Knoxville track that usually has a tricky low-groove towards the end of 50-laps is an interesting prospect. Does Blaney find himself the benefactor of watching Swindell and Sweet set the pace, and show him the way to victory lane late?
Jason Meyers: Goal in 2010 – Win the World of Outlaws Champion (CHECK). Goal in 2011 – Win the Knoxville Nationals (TBD). How can you count out the 2010 World of Outlaws Champion this week? Overcame a bout with the flu, ran strong and led his preliminary night. His Elite Racing Team seems to be keen on meeting goals and expectations they set for themselves. No reason to doubt Meyers heading into Saturday.
Daryn Pittman: I would wager that most people don’t know that Daryn Pittman is starting fifth in the 51st Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, except maybe for the members of his Heffner Racing Team. Pittman remains an unknown after not running any event on Friday night which could prove to be an advantage or disadvantage. Pittman started strong on Thursday night’s prelim but faded during the feature, which leaves us to wonder what happens when the laps are doubled.
Brian Brown: Brown is the highest starting Knoxville regular in the field. Brown also has a resource in relative Lasoski to provide nearly any advice he may need or want. Brown is no slouch at Knoxville, proof is in his two 410 Sprint Car track championships. Those banners don’t help you pass cars tonight though.
Mark Dobmeier: Dobmeier has flashed signs of brilliance not only in claiming the Thursday night preliminary feature over 2010 World of Outlaws Champion Meyers but also earlier in the year nearly unseating the Outlaws at Princeton Speedway in Minnesota.
Steve Kinser: Would anyone doubt “The King” at Knoxville? The Nationals and Kinser are synonymous with one another. This year should be no different, it’s like you can already see him starting to pick drivers off one by one and racing hasn’t even started yet today.
Fred Rahmer: Don’t know that many people who witnessed “Fast Freddie” start 24th and win last year at Williams Grove against the best in the business have forgotten about that performance. Rahmer is another driver who was quiet but strong on his preliminary night.
Davey Heskin: Heskin looked strong in preliminary action on Wednesday night, building a significant lead before Sammy Swindell reeled him in and took the lead late. Heskin, like fellow Knoxville regulars Brown and Dobmeier, have an advantage in laps at Knoxville this year over the rest, but can they make it pay off?
Others to watch:
Donny Schatz: Won’t be easy for Schatz to claim his fifth Knoxville Nationals crown but if there’s anyone who can start in the 13th spot, analyze what’s happening in front of him, and use it to his advantage, it’s Schatz. Wouldn’t expect the 15 car to be anywhere but the front at the conclusion of 50 laps.
Terry McCarl: Nobody has more experience at Knoxville outside of Lasoski than McCarl. Can he become the first Iowa native to win the Nationals?
Shane Stewart: 17th to second in Friday night’s Race of Champions against very stout competition. Guess where Stewart will start the A-Main from? You guessed it, 17th!
Craig Dollansky: Leading Outlaw winner this year can get it done. In search of his first Knoxville Nationals, can he climb from 18th in 50-laps?
Tim Shaffer: The defending Nationals champion dug himself a hole falling out of his preliminary night feature with mechanical woes on Wednesday night, rebounded Friday night with a Race of Champions victory.
Jason Johnson: Johnson charged from the B-Main on his preliminary night stealing the final A transfer spot from Greg Hodnett on the last lap. He then started on the tail and charged to the front in the 25-lap preliminary feature to finish fifth. He’ll need another effort like that to be a contender.
Kraig Kinser: 2005 Knoxville Nationals Champion, starts on the front row of the B-Main after a strong run in the night’s Race of Champions on Friday. Can he make a second trip to victory lane?
Danny Lasoski: If anyone had to pick a driver that’s not locked in to the A-Main to win the 51st Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, it would most certainly be Lasoski. “The Dude” from Dover, Mo., is simply the man at Knoxville with the most 410 Sprint Car victories in history at the famed ½ mile. He also knows how to win at the Nationals with four to his credit. Lasoski starts 12th in the D-Main.
Lucas Wolfe: Wolfe won the World Challenge on Friday night which will surely boost his confidence entering tonight, which could help the young Pennsylvania driver work his way into the Nationals A-Main. Wolfe starts 12th in the night’s C-Main.
Kevin Swindell: If you weren’t at Knoxville, the younger Swindell turned on the after burners and powered past Kenny Jacobs in the A-Main on Friday night and then proceeded to check out. You have to wonder if Swindell has it in him to get thru from the 11th spot in the C-Main. He’s the other reason to watch the sixth row when it rolls around.