KNOXVILLE, Iowa — A landmark victory on the opening night of the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals ended a yearlong string of bad luck for Trey Starks and his Gobrecht Motorsports team.
Starks, who has traveled back and forth between his home in Washington to Knoxville Raceway all season, turned in the performance of his life to pick up his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory on the sport’s biggest stage.
Starks, whose car is co-owned by Scott Gobrecht and Jeff McCall, was in disbelief at his victory.
“This hasn’t been the best year for us for multiple different reasons,” Starks explained. “We’ve obviously gotten a ton of rain and we haven’t gotten the laps that we wanted to get this year. We’ve learned something every week we come here and it seems like the last several weeks or the last month, nothing has gone our way. We’ve had problem after problem after problem. At times we haven’t been very fast.”
And the struggle got worse as Knoxville Nationals week began with Sunday night’s Capitani Classic and two nights of racing at Southern Iowa Speedway.
“After all the problems we’ve had this week — we got run over on Monday night at Osky and last night we blew an engine, running solid both times,” Starks said. “To say we were due for this one is an understatement. These guys work so hard. I can’t thank Jeff McCall and Scott Gobrecht enough for believing in me and putting me in their car year after year here.
I just cannot believe it. We have needed this one, but tonight was the night to do it.”
Starks commutes weekly from Washington and McCall travels in from Cherryville, N.C.
“We chose to run Knoxville for a couple of reasons,” Starks said. “Jeff is from North Carolina and Scott is from Pennsylvania. We don’t like to settle in one place, so we thought let’s go to Knoxville. We were let down last year when we didn’t make the feature last year.
“I come in every Thursday and go home every Sunday,” said Starks, who runs a machine shop along with his father and brother. “Jeff does the same exact thing from North Carolina. It’s been a headache at times, but nights like this make it worth it.
“Sometimes I’ll take the red eye into Des Moines. When we run Jackson on Friday, I try to fly in on Thursday. Airports are my second home right now. I try to get back home as quickly as I can.”
And all the travel and hard work paid off on night one of the Knoxville Nationals.
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