It was not the outcome many in the grandstands at Knoxville Raceway had hoped for, but once again on an August Saturday night in Iowa, Donny Schatz came, saw, and conquered the field to win his ninth FVP Knoxville Nationals, leading all fifty main event laps. Even though drivers such as Danny Lasoski and Kerry Madsen were able to stay within a second of the Tony Stewart Motorsports driver, at the same time they were never able to pose a serious challenge to the Fargo, North Dakota native, who in turn claimed his 23rd victory of the 2015 World of Outlaws season.
Behind the champion, the fight for best of the rest Saturday was a heated one that eventually fell in favor of 2014 Kings Royal champion Madsen. The Australian, who started alongside Schatz on the front row, was hoping to become the first non-American driver to win the event. While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart has figured out how to win at Knoxville, Saturday’s win was also his ninth as a car owner, fellow stock car driver Kasey Kahne remains winless as an entrant in the granddaddy of all sprint car races. Despite placing two cars in the main event, Brad Sweet could do no better than a third place finish on Saturday night.
The feature winners on the opening three nights of action at Knoxville were also largely non-factors on Saturday. Shane Stewart, who claimed the victory on Wednesday was mired in traffic throughout the 50-lap battle, but still managed to place fourth. Thursday night winner Terry McCarl faded in the final 25 laps after the midway break and settled for 11th, just ahead of Friday night winner Bryan Clauson who placed 12th.
Also among the disappointed were Lasoski and his nephew Brian Brown. The all-time leader in race wins at Knoxville Raceway was second behind Schatz at the halfway break, but made the wrong adjustments for the second half and immediately faded after the restart and came home in eighth. For Brown, who came into Saturday’s event with three straight runner-up finishes behind Schatz in the 50-lap finale, he had to scramble just to make the grid after suffering an apparent engine failure during the pre-race warmup. Thankfully, a early end to his night proved to be unfounded as a faulty oil pressure gauge was instead the culprit. Despite the fortunate break, the FVP, Casey’s General Stores backed driver would never make a serious impact on the race and came home in sixth.
Once again, Donny Schatz was flawless throughout the four days action at the Knoxville Raceway. He posted the fastest time in qualifying on Wednesday, and then finished second in his heat race and the feature, earning enough points to claim the pole on Saturday. After posting the fastest pre-race hot lap on Saturday, Schatz more than backed up the pace he had shown not only on Wednesday, but throughout the 2015 World of Outlaws season.