KNOXVILLE, IA (September 16, 2021) – Tyler Erb took the lead early on in Thursday Night’s 25-lap preliminary night at Knoxville Raceway and went on to win his fifth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of the season. Tonight, kicked off three nights of racing culminated by the $50,000 to win Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals presented by Brandt Professional Agriculture finale on Saturday Night.
Jonathan Davenport and Kyle Larson chased Erb across the finish line. Ricky Weiss led the first lap but came home in fourth followed by overall fast qualifier, Kyle Strickler.
Once Erb took the lead from Weiss he held a comfortable advantage over the field until a stretch of caution flags in the last nine laps kept the competition close. A restart with two laps to go saw Erb hold off both Davenport and Larson for his 14th career Lucas Oil victory.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the second time in his career at Knoxville, Erb set himself up for a good starting spot in Saturday Night’s big finale. “Yes, three years ago I won my first national race here. It was like the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. Then two years ago we ran second on a Thursday night. To win tonight it’s awesome. Racing is so up-and-down. You think you’ve got it figured out and last week wasn’t good for us. Those two guys [Davenport and Larson] are at the top of their game. What a lot of people don’t see from the outside in our day and age, are the ways these cars are; if your car is bad, you are bad. We were really good at I-80 with this same tire rule and same dirt.”
Davenport, coming off a win in the 50th World 100 at Eldora Speedway, challenged Erb to finish line. “We just weren’t that good really. It’s hard to get your angles here. We have to be a little bit better. We were a whole lot better than we normally are here. This is one of my favorite places. We are still learning. We are going to keep our heads up and keep trying. My crew gave me a great car. I didn’t really give them much feedback because I don’t feel comfortable here yet.”
The last time Larson raced at Knoxville was in August when he won the Knoxville Sprint Car Nationals. In a late model for the first time at Knoxville he finished in third. “I got up against the wall too many times. Those caution flags hurt us. We had some good momentum going on the outside. I am not sure even if the race had more laps, we could have gotten up there even further. I was trying some sprint car lines there for a while and with this being the first time racing here in a late model we learned a lot for sure.”
The winner’s Best Performance Motorsports, Rocket Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by M&W Transport, Roberts Bee Company, First Class Septic, Posi Flow, Go Lithium, Midwest Sheet Metal, Bazell Race Fuels, KBC Graphics, and Keyser Manufacturing.
Completing the top ten were Tim McCreadie, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Bruening, Chad Simpson, and Brandon Sheppard.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
17th Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals presented by BRANDT Professional Agriculture – Night 1
Thursday, September 16th, 2021
Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, IA
Allstar Performance Time Trials
Fast Time Group A: Kyle Strickler / 17.878 seconds (overall)
Fast Time Group B: Kyle Larson / 18.041 seconds
Penske Race Shocks Heat Race #1 Finish (12 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 18J-Chase Junghans; 2. 59-Garrett Alberson; 3. 8-Kyle Strickler; 4. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 5. 20-Jimmy Owens; 6. 04-Tad Pospisil; 7. 29D-Spencer Diercks; 8. 25F-Jason Feger
Summit Racing Equipment Heat Race #2 Finish (12 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 39-Tim McCreadie; 2. 16-Tyler Bruening; 3. 157-Mike Marlar; 4. 66-Kyle Bronson; 5. 21M-Luke Merfeld; 6. 30-Todd Cooney; 7. 6H-Al Humphrey; 8. 10-Junior Coover
Simpson Race Products Heat Race #3 Finish (12 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 7W-Ricky Weiss; 2. 1C-Chad Simpson; 3. 1S-Brandon Sheppard; 4. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 5. 1X-Aaron Marrant; 6. 21B-Rich Bell; 7. 33-Nick Marolf; 8. 22H-Daniel Hilsabeck
Ohlins Shocks Heat Race #4 Finish (12 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 1T-Tyler Erb; 2. 6-Kyle Larson; 3. 56JR-Tony Jackson Jr; 4. 41-Jeremiah Hurst; 5. 32S-Chris Simpson; 6. 93-Mason Oberkramer; 7. 51-Matt Furman; 8. 14M-Reid Millard
Fast Shafts Heat Race #5 Finish (12 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 71-Hudson O'Neal; 2. 46-Earl Pearson Jr; 3. 11H-Spencer Hughes; 4. 98-Jason Rauen; 5. 36-Logan Martin; 6. 80-Allan Hopp; 7. 10K-Shawn Kirwin; 8. 18-Shannon Babb
Lucas Oil Heat Race #6 Finish (12 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 14-Josh Richards; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 3. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 4. 25-Shane Clanton; 5. 45-Kyle Hammer; 6. 48-Tim Lance; 7. 22M-Charlie McKenna; 8. (DNS) 53-Andrew Kosiski
LINE-X B-Main #1 Finish (15 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 2. 66-Kyle Bronson; 3. 04-Tad Pospisil; 4. 20-Jimmy Owens; 5. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 6. 21M-Luke Merfeld; 7. 25F-Jason Feger; 8. 1X-Aaron Marrant; 9. 29D-Spencer Diercks; 10. 21B-Rich Bell; 11. 6H-Al Humphrey; 12. 22H-Daniel Hilsabeck; 13. 10-Junior Coover; 14. 30-Todd Cooney; 15. 33-Nick Marolf
UNOH B-Main #2 Finish (15 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 25-Shane Clanton; 2. 36-Logan Martin; 3. 32S-Chris Simpson; 4. 41-Jeremiah Hurst; 5. 45-Kyle Hammer; 6. 93-Mason Oberkramer; 7. 98-Jason Rauen; 8. 80-Allan Hopp; 9. 22M-Charlie McKenna; 10. 10K-Shawn Kirwin; 11. 14M-Reid Millard; 12. 51-Matt Furman; 13. 48-Tim Lance; 14. (DNS) 18-Shannon Babb; 15. (DNS) 53-Andrew Kosiski