GRAVEL PERFECT AT KNOXVILLE
Perfection is the only way to describe American David Gravel’s run on night two at the 57th annual Knoxville Nationals.
By GEOFF ROUNDS
Gravel was the first driver since Steve Kinser in 1992 to score a perfect 500 pointscore by setting the fastest time, winning his heat and a strong victory in the 25-lap A-Main from runner-up Brian Brown and Mark Dobmeier.
Gravel of Connecticut started the feature from position eight and it was his second in his career at Knoxville, paying $12,000 for the win. The victory sees him up on the pole of Saturday’s night’s $150,000 to win championship event.
Knoxville Nationals defending champion Jason Johnson suffered badly before a circuit could be completed when he got sideways as he collected the machine of Dominic Scelzi. Scelzi would restart at the tail after repairs, but Johnson would not be as lucky.
Once the green fell again, pole-sitter, Mark Dobmeier, showed the way, ahead of Brooke Tatnell and Wayne Johnson. Gravel entered the top four on the second lap, and claimed third from Wayne Johnson on lap four. Brian Brown would drive from sixth to fourth on laps six and seven.
Gravel used the low side to shoot by Tatnell for second on lap eight, as Dobmeier entered lapped traffic. Tatnell’s great third place run would derail on lap 10 with a blown right rear tyre. The caution negated a Gravel pass of Dobmeier for the lead in turn two.
Dobmeier would pull away in clean air on the restart, while Brown challenged Gravel for the second spot, taking it briefly. The leaders entered lapped traffic again on lap 18, and Gravel slid under Dobmeier in heavy lapped traffic on lap 19 to take the lead for good.
Gravel pulled away to victory, while Brown took second with two laps to go. Dobmeier, Ian Madsen and Daryn Pittman followed. Wayne Johnson, Terry McCarl, Danny Dietrich, Spencer Bayston and hard-charger, Rico Abreu completed the top 10.
Gravel will start Saturday night’s feature alongside Donny Schatz. Then the order is Brad Sweet, Kerry Madsen, Brian Brown, Terry McCarl, Daryn Pittman, Greg Hodnett, Kyle Larson, Shane Stewart, Austin McCarl, Paul McMahan, Mark Dobmeier, Rico Abreu, Ian Madsen and Wayne Johnson.
Brothers Kerry and Ian Madsen are the only Australians to be in the Saturday night feature.
Nationals tradition shows that the 10 drivers locking into Saturday’s B main will stay put instead of taking the option of starting over with the remaining field on Friday. That was the case again this year.
“I’m in a zone right now. Little holes look big. Like Kyle Larson said, I’ve never driven a sprintcar this good. Hopefully, Saturday, we can duke it out. I’m happy to be in the books. Hopefully, we have something for them Saturday,” Gravel said.
Brown was pleased to again be a realistic chance of Nationals victory.
“I’m just proud to be standing here. I could have named you five or six times throughout this night I should be on the hook. From the C-Main last year to here we are now…we’ve just wanted an opportunity to win the Knoxville Nationals and we’ve put ourselves in position,” Brown said.
Australians on night two: (Ian Madsen 4th; Brooke Tatnell 23rd; James McFadden 5th B-Main; Jamie Veal DNS C-Main, due to hitting a clump of mud on the track cushion and hurting the car and the motor.
A-Main (started): 1. David Gravel (8) 2. Brian Brown (6); 3. Mark Dobmeier (1) 4. Ian Madsen (9) 5. Daryn Pittman (5) 6. Wayne Johnson (2) 7. Terry McCarl (7) 8. Danny Dietrich (11) 9. Spencer Bayston (12) 10. Rico Abreu (21) 11. Tim Kaeding (18) 12. Josh Baughman (20) 13. Trey Starks (23) 14. Dominic Scelzi (10) 15. Jason Sides (24) 16. Justin Henderson (22) 17. Jack Dover (14) 18. Kyle Reinhardt (13) 19. Thomas Kennedy (15) 20. Kraig Kinser (19) 21. Chris Martin (17) 22. Dale Blaney (16) 23. Brooke Tatnell (3) 24. Jason Johnson (4).
Lap Leaders: Dobmeier 1-18, Gravel 19-25.
Hard Charger: Rico Abreu
Combined Event Points for the 57th Knoxville Nationals.
1. 5, David Gravel, 500
2. 15, Donny Schatz, 492
3. 49, Brad Sweet, 489
4. 2M, Kerry Madsen, 487
5. 21, Brian Brown, 486
6. 24, Terry McCarl, 478
7. 9, Daryn Pittman, 474
8. 27, Greg Hodnett, 472
9. 57, Kyle Larson, 469
10. 2, Shane Stewart, 469
11. 2KS, Austin McCarl, 466
12. 4, Paul McMahan, 463
13. 13JT, Mark Dobmeier, 462
14. 24R, Rico Abreu, 462
15. 18, Ian Madsen, 458
16. 2C, Wayne Johnson, 457
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Date posted: August 11, 2017