Seventh Heaven For Donny Schatz

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Donny Schatz celebrates his seventh Knoxville Nationals victory Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway. (Ken Simon photo)
Donny Schatz celebrates his seventh Knoxville Nationals victory Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway. (Ken Simon photo)

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Donny Schatz is running out of ways to win the Knoxville Nationals.

Saturday night Schatz made a last-lap pass to win the B main and then romped from 21st starting position to pass Brian Brown on lap 41 and win sprint-car racing’s biggest race for the seventh time in the past eight years.

Victory in the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals paid Schatz and his Tony Stewart Racing team $150,000 and was his 14th World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series triumph of the season.

It was also Schatz’s third victory at Knoxville’s half-mile dirt oval this season and the third time that Brown, who was runner-up to Schatz in this race last year, finished second to Schatz.

“This is the hardest earned one we have, especially we have felt all week long,” said Schatz. “We didn’t doubt ourselves, but when things don’t go the way you expect, you get a little nervous. But to start 21st and win the race is just incredible. Last night I was hoping to win the World Challenge and take that 25th starting spot, but tonight it really helped us to be able to run that B main.”

Brown took the lead from outside the front row and jumped out to a huge lead, while all eyes in the near capacity crowd of more than 20,000 were on Schatz as he picked off one car at a time.

He was up to fifth by the time the fuel stop was called for after 24 of the 50 laps. After five yellow flags during the first 24 laps, the final 26 circuits went caution free and Schatz got his No. 15 hooked up and made quick work of Kevin Swindell, Justin Henderson and Joey Saldana on his way to the leader.

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Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner is a veteran racing journalist and has been a member of the SPEED SPORT family since joining Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News in 1991. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of SPEED SPORT Magazine.