KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Four-time Australian World Series Sprint Cars titlist James McFadden won a barnburner on Iowa Corn Districts 5 and 9 Night No. 2 of the MyPlace Hotels Knoxville 360 Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank Friday night at Knoxville Raceway.
McFadden took home $3,000 for his first career win at Knoxville, as well as with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 9m. He also locked himself into Saturday night’s main event pole position alongside Joey Saldana.
Blake Hahn brushed the turn one wall after the green flag waved, bringing out the caution. Davey Heskin led the field when the green fell again, ahead of Harli White, Brian Brown, Colby Copeland and Gio Scelzi. Scelzi moved into fourth on the second lap, followed by McFadden.
Brown reeled in White for second, and he and Scelzi shot by for second and third on lap nine. The leaders were in lapped traffic by the tenth circuit, and McFadden used the bottom to gain fourth.
The next five laps saw racing for the lead. With five laps to go, a blanket could be thrown over Heskin, Brown and Scelzi. On the 17th lap, Brown moved into the lead, with McFadden shooting under Scelzi on the backstretch.
Scelzi gained momentum again heading into three and hopped the left rear of McFadden’s car, sending him careening into the wall. The caution negated Brown’s pass for the lead, so Heskin led Brown, McFadden, Paul McMahan and Saldana back to green.
A three-car battle for the lead commenced on the restart, with McFadden battling to the fore heading into turn three. Brown moved into the runner-up spot, while Saldana advanced to fourth. Saldana gained third from Heskin with two to go.
Austin McCarl, who started 14th, came on strong late in the event, advancing as far as third, but Saldana got back by him at the line. McFadden’s win came ahead of Brown, Saldana, Austin McCarl and Heskin.
Saldana set quick time over the field.
“We stuck to the bottom there, and tried to roll it as good as we could,” said McFadden. “(Heskin) kind of missed the bottom there, and it was enough to get by him. We’ve struggled here at Knoxville the last couple of weeks, so it’s good to get a win. It’s a big confidence booster going into tomorrow night. I came off the bottom and had a big push (when he passed Gio). I about ran into (Heskin), and I felt a nudge. I didn’t know if it was my fault. I apologize to Gio if it was my fault. I didn’t feel like I could see him, so I’m not sure.”
“I just kind of guessed wrong there on the last restart,” said Brown. “I didn’t want to see the yellow, because I had gotten by Davey. I just guessed wrong. I was going to go where Davey didn’t, but he blocked enough of the bottom and kind of shut my line down there. I tried to get around the outside, but James what he needed to do and stuck the bottom like a champion. He’s a heck of wheelman.”
“The driver didn’t show up until the end,” said Saldana. “The car had really good speed. I was just making mistakes. You can’t make mistakes. You have to be perfect. Luckily, we had that restart at the end, and I hit the bottom. I almost gave third away. Hopefully, I can learn from tonight and be a little better tomorrow.”
Feature (20 Laps): 1. James McFadden (7); 2. Brian Brown (5); 3. Joey Saldana (8); 4. Austin McCarl (14); 5. Davey Heskin (2); 6. Paul McMahan (6); 7. Clint Garner (18); 8. Matt Juhl (22); 9. Colby Copeland (4); 10. Terry McCarl (9); 11. Harli White (1); 12. Josh Baughman (17); 13. Jon Agan (10); 14. Jason Solwold (13); 15. Blake Hahn (12); 16. Kyle Bellm (19); 17. Roger Crockett (20); 18. Christian Bowman (11); 19. Matt Moro (24); 20. AJ Moeller (16); 21. Scott Bogucki (21); 22. Ayrton Gennetten (23); 23. Gio Scelzi (3); 24. Kaleb Johnson (15). Lap Leaders: Heskin 1-16, McFadden 17-20. Hard-charger: Juhl.