2005: Like Father, Like Son

    Kraig Kinser drove to victory in the 2005 edition of the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. (Mark Funderburk Photo)
    Kraig Kinser drove to victory in the 2005 edition of the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. (Mark Funderburk 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 fifth installment in the seven day series.

    KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Many racers believe luck plays an important role in winning the Knoxville Nationals, the most prestigious sprint-car race in the world.

    In the 45th running of the event Sunday, Kraig Kinser took luck out of the equation. With the schedule shuffled and delayed by two days of rain, Kinser raced his way to the pole position in the afternoon and patiently waited until the evening to dominate the A main. He led all 30 laps en route to the $140,000 payday and climbed the frontstretch fence to celebrate with the large crowd that remained at Knoxville Raceway an extra day.

    The field was stacked with 13 World of Outlaws Sprint Series competitors. It included Kraig’s father, Steve Kinser, a 12-time Knoxville Nationals champion who leads the standings, and Danny Lasoski, a four-time Knoxville Nationals champion who has a record 86 victories at the half-mile oval in central Iowa.

    Kraig Kinser, 20, jumped to the lead in his Steve Kinser Racing Remy Maxim as soon as the green flag waved, with Donny Schatz sliding to the inside of Brian Paulus to grab second. Four laps into the race, Lasoski cut under Chad Kemenah for third and those three pulled away, each running different lines as the track continued to widen under an 18-lap green-flag run.

    The leaders caught the rear of the field only 10 laps into the event. Kinser darted high and low through the traffic. When a caution waved with 12 laps to go, it bunched the field, with Schatz, Lasoski, Shane Stewart and Kemenah all ready to pounce on Kinser, who had Jac Haudenschild’s lapped car directly behind him.

    Kraig Kinser and the 2005 Knoxville Nationals trophy. (Mark Funderburk Photo)

    On the restart, Kinser shot to the top of the track, Schatz tried the bottom and Lasoski went up and down. The three quickly pulled away once again before another caution waved, setting up a seven-lap shootout to the big money.

    Kinser set the pace coming to the green flag and pulled away in the high groove. Schatz and Lasoski raced each other, with Schatz winning the battle and finishing second for the fourth time at the Nationals. Lasoski was third, ahead of Shane Stewart and Kemenah.

    “We were joking, ‘Well, now we just need 30 good laps around the front,’” Kraig Kinser said. “I was joking around in the pit area about that, but then you step back and look at the lineup and see 23 of the best sprint-car drivers in the world behind you. You know you’ve got to go, and you know you have to have perfect laps, but even if you have perfect laps sometimes it doesn’t work out for you.

    “I knew we had to have a lot of luck this weekend and be strong every time we hit the track. I think we definitely accomplished that. We were a threat every time we went on the track.”

    Emotions were high afterward. Steve Kinser grabbed the microphone in victory lane, shouting to the crowd, “Not too bad for a 20 year old.”

    Off to the side taking it all in was Steve’s father, Bob, who also was at Eldora to see his son capture the King’s Royal last month. Steve joined Bob in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame this season.