KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Welcome back!
Two-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Jason Meyers returned to Knoxville Raceway after having stepped away from driving sprint cars earlier this season with one thing in mind — win the Knoxville Nationals.
Meyers looked like he hadn’t missed a day of racing, let alone more than four months, as he guided Tom Tarlton’s No. 21m to an impressive triumph on night two of the 52nd annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals Thursday at the half-mile black-dirt oval.
Meyers steamed past Knoxville regular Mark Dobmeier on a lap-eight restart and held off a late charge from 2010 Nationals champion Tim Shaffer, who finished second after starting 15th.
It was Meyers’ third career victory at Knoxville.
“We have been off for four months, but these are the same cars that we built to start the season and Tom Tarlton put the money up to put the cars together and come here and race,” Meyers explained. “It was a great opportunity for me to come out here and take another shot at it. We have been off for a while and we were focused on some other things and they’ve given me a good opportunity to come out here and have some fun.”
Meyers acknowledged that despite not racing full-time any longer, he felt the pressure of the Nationals.
“It is the Knoxville Nationals,” Meyers said. “The Nationals have never had anything to do with the Outlaws. I thought it would be fun to come back here and not have the pressure, but tonight I was just as nervous as I have ever been.”
The Clovis, Calif., native, who has been devoting his time to developing new businesses, didn’t feel rusty.
“If you haven’t ridden a bike for a year, you get on it and you ride it down the street,” Meyers said. “The difference is the team, and that is what it takes time to put together. If there’s rust it is getting that gel going with your team. As long as you are in shape, you don’t forget how to drive a race car.”
Shaffer, meanwhile, qualified 32nd and had a lot of work to do to get to the feature, and will likely have more work to do Friday to make his way into Saturday’s event.
“It was a good result to drive up from where we started after struggling all night,” Shaffer said. “We qualified so bad, we needed every point we could get. As bad as we qualified, we may be starting from scratch tomorrow.”
Kraig Kinser finished third.
“To finish third on a qualifying night, I’m happy tonight and we accomplished what we set out to do,” Kinser said. “This is really great for me.”
Stevie Smith was fourth with Lance Dewease taking fifth.
Sammy Swindell put on an electrifying performance in the second heat, but dropped out only four laps into the feature with a broken u-joint.
Smith was the top point earner for the night and that was good enough to give him the most points for the two nights of qualifying with 479. Craig Dollansky was second with 477.
Meyers ended up seventh overall in points, earning a spot in Saturday’s A main.