1998: Lasoski Finally Breaks Through

    Danny Lasoski celebrates after winning his first Knoxville Nationals title during the 1998 running of the historic event. (NSSN Archives Photo)
    Danny Lasoski celebrates after winning his first Knoxville Nationals title during the 1998 running of the historic event. (NSSN Archives Photo)

    Editor’s Note: National Speed Sport News is going back in time and revisiting some of the past Knoxville Nationals races ahead of the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals. This is the second installment in the seven day series.

    KNOXVILLE, Iowa — “I’d give up every dollar I’ve ever made just to take that trophy home tonight,” Danny Lasoski said as he strapped himself in the No. 83 Beef Packers Eagle before the 38th annual Amoco Knoxville Nationals championship.

    Later in the evening, as he stood in victory lane with the Amoco Knoxville Nationals trophy in sight, giving up 10 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series victories, seven Knoxville Raceway championships and 68 feature victories at his home track didn’t seem enough.

    “We did it. We did it,” Lasoski yelled in victory lane. “I love this. This is great. This is the greatest day of my life.”

    “The Dude” pulled off the move of his life early in the final lap, racing through the low groove in the second corner to pass 1983 Amoco Knoxville Nationals champion Sammy Swindell for the $100,000 first prize. He took a Polish victory lap, reminiscent of the late Alan Kulwicki after taking the checkered flag.

    Lasoski, who started inside the second row, battled Swindell throughout the final 20 laps of the main event. Had it not been for a first-lap flip by Fred Rahmer, Lasoski might have led all 30 laps. After polesitter Jac Haudenschild led the 24-car field into turn one as the green flag fell at the beginning of the main event, Lasoski passed Sammy Swindell on the front straightaway and Haudenschild on the backstretch. The red flag was waving by the time the leaders reached the finish line, however, and the race was completely restarted. Lasoski pounded his steering wheel when he coasted into the pit area during the red period.

    Haudenschild drove the No. 22 Pennzoil Maxim into the lead again as the green flag replaced the red, only to have Swindell pass him low in the second corner for the lead.

    Swindell, whose No. 1 Channellock Stealth was strong in the low groove, was increasing his advantage when Tyler Walker spun between turns one and two early in the third lap.

    Haudenschild took the high line into the lead as the race resumed, only to have Swindell race past him deep in the second corner. Haudenschild kept the No. 22 on the rim, but was unable to keep pace with Swindell who raced in the low groove of the semi-banked, half-mile oval at an average speed of 105 mph early. They switched lines just seconds before Swindell’s brother, Jeff, spun the No. 104+ Octane Boost J&J during lap eight.

    Swindell, racing in his 25th Amoco Knoxville Nationals, controlled the ensuing restart as Lasoski challenged Haudenschild for second. Lasoski passed Haudenschild early in the 11th lap, the took the lead with a low, fourth-corner move past Swindell the next time around.