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KYLE LARSON WINS KNOXVILLE NATIONALS OPENER

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville Nationals opener - Photo: Knoxville Raceway

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville Nationals opener – Photo: Knoxville Raceway

NASCAR SUPERSTAR Kyle Larson has eclipsed the field to win the opening night of the 57th Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville in Iowa.

By GEOFF ROUNDS

Larson led every lap of the 25-lap feature and was flawless through traffic to claim his third career feature win and $12,000 at the Sprintcar Capital of the World.

Larson faces an anxious wait to see if he can compete in the Saturday night final due to NASCAR commitments.

Nine-time Knoxville Nationals champion Donny Schatz was second and third was Greg Hodnett with Australian Kerry Madsen sixth.

Schatz emerged atop the all-important point standings earning 492, from Brad Sweet (489), Kerry Madsen (487), Greg Hodnett (472), Larson (469) and Shane Stewart (469).

“It was a good race. I got the lead quick and I felt I got good speed up high on the track. Hopefully we can be here Saturday night. I’m not allowed to race, I have to have a day off before a (NASCAR) Cup race. I’m hopefully going to talk to Chip (Ganassi), but I already think I know what his answer will be. I hope he realises how big this race is to me. I definitely have to have the conversation with him, that’s for sure.” In reference to his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series owner, Chip Ganassi, and his ability to make it back from practice in Michigan for Saturday’s championship in Knoxville.

“I’ve never been this good in a sprint car in my career. To win a prelim night here with (car owner) Paul Silva is amazing. I’m nervous about the phone call. Hopefully, (Chip) is listening and knows how much I appreciate everything he allows me to do racing sprint cars. If we can race Saturday night that will be a dream come true. To win here Saturday, I feel like we have a great shot. In the Cup stuff, those are the best group of guys to work with. I feel like we have a great shot (at a championship). I feel fast, and I’m having fun. It would be a lot of fun to get done practicing Saturday and know I’m racing here.”

Despite finishing runner-up Schatz remains upbeat about another Knoxville Nationals victory.

“We tried something here and there to see if we may be a little better,” Schatz said. “We may have been a little worse. You have to do that. We got ourselves in a good spot in the heat race and qualified ok. You have to finish good and we did. We were just a little free, but my hat off to this race team, they do incredible things together. They work hard together, racing is one of them games where we argue, enjoy it, and do everything together.”

Kerry Madsen finished best of the Australians who qualified on night one winding up sixth, while; Jordyn Brazier 6th B-Main; Lynton Jeffrey 7th B-Main; Jason Kendrick 16th B-Main; Scott Bogucki 24th B-Main.

A Main: 25 Laps, (started).

1. Kyle Larson (1), 2. Donny Schatz (6), 3. Greg Hodnett (3), 4. Brad Sweet (7), 5. Austin McCarl (2), 6. Kerry Madsen (8), 7. Shane Stewart (5), 8. Paul McMahan (4), 9. Christopher Bell (9), 10. Bill Balog (18), 11. Matt Juhl (10), 12. Tim Shaffer (24), 13. Danny Lasoski (12), 14. Kevin Thomas Jr. (14), 15. Carson Macedo (20), 16. Parker Price-Miller (13), 17. Dusty Zomer (22), 18. Chase Johnson (23), 19. Dustin Selvage (17), 20. Jac Haudenschild (15), 21. Matt Moro (11), 22. Harli White (19), 23. Jake Bubak (16), 24. Lucas Wolfe (21). Lap Leader: Larson 1-25; Hard Charger: Tim Shaffer.