KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Donny Schatz got a special birthday present on a night that was just another disappointing August Saturday night for Brian Brown.
Schatz won his fourth consecutive FVP Knoxville Nationals and his eighth in the last nine runnings of the prestigious event before a near capacity crowd at Knoxville Raceway, while Brown finished second for the third consecutive year.
“It is hard to sit here and say, I still can’t believe I just won the Knoxville Nationals whether it is eight times or not,” said Schatz, who turned 37 on Sunday. “It is a dream come true that you don’t feel is reality.”
Schatz, who drives the No. 15 Tony Stewart Racing sprint car, started on the pole and dominated the first half of the 54th annual event.
Brown, driving his own FVP No. 21, challenged Schatz on the restart following the halfway break, but fell back on the long run. A yellow flag when Shane Stewart stopped on the track after 40 of the 50 laps of the half-mile black dirt track, gave Brown another chance to close up behind his nemesis.
Brown stayed close and on lap 43, blasted around the top of Schatz for the lead. However, Schatz didn’t quit and when Brown left the bottom of the track open two laps later, he hugged the rail and sneaked onto the frontstretch with the lead.
“There was no hitting the marks in one and two anymore and that is where Brownie got around me on the top,” Schatz explained. “You could still get into the turn pretty hard on the bottom, but when you into the center of the turn you slowed down so much that you couldn’t get going again. You just lost so much speed that it started to make me nervous.
“He passed me. I tried not to get rattled or do anything silly,” Schatz continued. “The next corner he went to the bottom, we went through one and two again and then we went into three and four and he went to the top and I was able to get back by him on the bottom.”