SHARK WEEK: Jacob Allen Completes Shark Racing Sweep of Knoxville Nationals Prelims
Austin McCarl and Tyler Courtney Earn Front Row Spots for Saturday Finale
KNOXVILLE, IA - August 12, 2022 - Take a bow, Knoxville Raceway. You did it again.
Thursday's preliminary program of the 61st NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey's was one of the most remarkable in recent memory. The storylines were plentiful from top-to-bottom, but one team earned the right to dominate the headlines.
32 years removed from Bobby Allen's emotional, dramatic, and stunning triumph at the 1990 Knoxville Nationals, his beloved operation - Shark Racing - has swept the preliminary programs of the 2022 edition with his grandson, Logan Schuchart, winning Wednesday and his son, Jacob Allen, topping Thursday.
It was a rag-tag group of characters and cars when the Hanover, PA team joined the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series full-time in 2014. Flash forward eight years and this dream has turned into a reality with Shark Racing evolving into one of the top teams in the country, and they proved it this week.
After Logan Schuchart led all 25 laps of Wednesday's opener, his uncle Jacob Allen had to follow him up on Thursday and most certainly felt the pressure. That's not to say he didn't thrive under the heat of the microscope, though. Piloting the Pells Tire Service, Low-E Insulation #1A, a replica design of Bobby's 1990 car, Jacob brought his dad's ride back to Victory Lane and he beat the best of the best to do it.
Earning his first-career Knoxville Raceway win with a superb effort, Allen was forced to fend off three-time World of Outlaws champion and 2018 Knoxville Nationals winner, Brad Sweet, to get the job done. It was a heated battle down the stretch, but one that this lovable son of "Scruffy" was willing to face head-on.
"This is so amazing," Allen told an ecstatic crowd in Knoxville. "To bring my dad's #1A car back to Victory Lane at Knoxville is so badass. What else can you say? Wow. I had to hold off Brad Sweet, who's a champion here. Knoxville Raceway tops it all.
I was telling Logan that I could throw up before the Feature with how much pressure he put on me. I thought what it would be like for Shark Racing to sweep the prelims, and we freaking did it. I can't believe it. When Shark Racing first came on the road, they never would've thought we were capable of doing this. This shows you that no matter how hard you work if you believe in it and you truly want it, you can make it happen."
It was a matter of 0.754-seconds for Brad Sweet as fell just short of claiming his second Knoxville Nationals preliminary win. He was all over Allen's bumper throughout the final five laps but struggled to make the right move with traffic and Allen's improved savvy standing in his way. The Big Cat will start ninth in Saturday's big dance aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49.
"I'm happy for Jacob," Sweet said on his friend. "That's pretty awesome to see the #1A back in Victory Lane here. Knoxville is a tricky place to win at, so seeing him get his first win on this kind of stage is special. I'm definitely disappointed for my guys, though. We had a good car, but I don't think I made the right moves. We've got some work to do, and 50 laps is a long time for things to play out."
Completing the podium behind Allen and Sweet was another fellow World of Outlaws star Carson Macedo. The Jason Johnson Racing, Albaugh #41 found speed late in the going and tracked down the front two to make it a three-way battle for the win on Thursday. The Lemoore, CA native fell short by 1.161-seconds at the checkered flag, but his third-place effort was enough to slot him starting fifth in Saturday's main event.
"I got a bad start and had to reel it all back in," Macedo said on his night. "Once I got my momentum going and found a rhythm I felt really good and could see Brad and Jacob ahead of me. I faded at the end, though, I don't think it was my car or anything, maybe just the dirty air. It's a nice points night for us, though, and I know we're locked in for Saturday. I think we can get a little better for the big dance, but I believe in Phil [Dietz], Clyde [Knipp], and Nate [Reptez] completely.
Austin McCarl, of Altoona, IA, was the story away from the story as he earned high point man honors and put his Country Builders #88 on the pole position of Saturday's $175,00o-to-win grand finale. The son of "T-Mac" Terry McCarl, Austin locked-in to his third Knoxville Nationals A-Main by timing in fifth, running fourth-from-eighth in his Heat and finishing fourth in the Feature.
Kyle Larson, the defending Knoxville Nationals champion, earned his fair share of headlines as well on Thursday. He timed in seventh-quick, but a poor Heat Race sent him to the B-Main and a 22nd-place starting position in the Feature. The Elk Grove, CA native then did what he does best, advancing +17 spots in a caution-free race to finish fifth and earn KSE Hard Charger honors. He'll start from sixth in Saturday's 50-lap finale as he hopes to repeat his 2021 triumph.
Rounding out the top-10 on Thursday night was Zeb Wise, Tyler Courtney, Kasey Kahne, Lynton Jeffrey, and JJ Hickle.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (25 Laps) - 1. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 2. 49-Brad Sweet ; 3. 41-Carson Macedo ; 4. 88-Austin McCarl ; 5. 57-Kyle Larson ; 6. 26-Zeb Wise ; 7. 7BC-Tyler Courtney ; 8. 9-Kasey Kahne ; 9. 2K-Lynton Jeffrey ; 10. 25-J.J. Hickle ; 11. 3TK-Tim Kaeding ; 12. 27H-Daryn Pittman ; 13. 19W-Chris Windom ; 14. 5C-Dylan Cisney ; 15. 21-Brian Brown ; 16. 11X-Michael Kofoid ; 17. 20G-Noah Gass ; 18. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips ; 19. 17B-Bill Balog ; 20. 49X-Cale Thomas ; 21. 35-Zach Hampton ; 22. 1-Logan Wagner ; 23. 15H-Sam Hafertepe ; 24. 53-Jack Dover . Lap Leader(s): Jacob Allen 1-25. KSE Hard Charger Award: 57-Kyle Larson[+17]
Knoxville Nationals Points (1-16 A-Main; 17-26 B-Main):
- 88-Austin McCarl (477)
- 7BC-Tyler Courtney (473)
- 15-Donny Schatz (469)
- 2-David Gravel (469)
- 41-Carson Macedo (467)
- 57-Kyle Larson (462)
- 19-Brent Marks (462)
- 27H-Daryn Pittman (459)
- 49-Brad Sweet (458)
- 25-JJ Hickle (458)
- 1A-Jacob Allen (457)
- 11M-Parker Price-Miller (457)
- 39-Justin Sanders (456)
- 11X-Buddy Kofoid (453)
- 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips (451)
- 8-Aaron Reutzel (447)
- 18-Giovanni Scelzi (445)
- 1S-Logan Schuchart (444)
- 2K-Lynton Jeffrey (443)
- 26-Zeb Wise (442)
- 83-James McFadden (441)
- 13-Justin Peck (441)
- 14J-Cole Macedo (435)
- 2KS-Ian Madsen (434)
- 9-Kasey Kahne (431)
- 3TK-Tim Kaeding (431)
WILD WEDNESDAY: Logan Schuchart Tops Opening Night of 61st Knoxville Nationals
Donny Schatz & David Gravel Top Points (469) in Low-Scoring Affair
KNOXVILLE, IA - August 10, 2022 - The 61st NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey's General Stores is officially off and running.
In a case of deja vu, The Granddaddy of 'Em All began on Wednesday night almost exactly how the Capitani Classic ended at Iowa's Knoxville Raceway earlier in the week on Sunday with Logan Schuchart fending off a hard-charging Donny Schatz.
The Shark Racing, DuraMAX Oil, Drydene Performance Products #1S officially led all 25 laps, but that only came after beating James McFadden into turn one, surviving several restarts, and then out-running the 10-time Knoxville Nationals champion in late lap traffic.
It marked the first preliminary night win for the Hanover, PA native - he won #HardKnox in 2018 - and continues the perfect path that two previous Knoxville Nationals champions took before him. Like Sweet in 2018 and Gravel in 2018, Schuchart will try to go three-for-three on the week and earn his first-career Knoxville Nationals title on Saturday night.
"I'm looking at the big picture," Schuchart said after an unexcitable Victory Lane. "I don't know that we did well enough in the points, to be honest. We have a good shot at it if we can put ourselves in a position to race for it, I hope we aren't buried too far back. You want to lock in and take some of that stress away, but if not, we'll run that B-Main and hopefully learn a little something on our car."
Schuchart - the grandson of 1990 Knoxville Nationals champion, Bobby Allen - took an interesting journey to Victory Lane by qualifying 26th and landing the pole of the Feature thanks to a wacky night with inversions and points. Everything changed when 18 of the top-20 qualifiers failed to transfer from Heat Race action and opened the door for others behind them.
Schuchart's $12,0000 payday was nearly stolen late in the going when none other than Fargo, ND's own Donny Schatz roared to life in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, Carquest Auto Parts, Ford Performance #15. Like Sunday, the 10-time champion quickly reeled in Schuchart, but he couldn't find a way around this time.
Schatz got ultra close with three laps left, closing ton 0.356-seconds, but one crucial and daring move in traffic is what allowed Schuchart to build the comfort zone he needed to hang on for the win. It was a 1.568-second margin of victory as Schatz followed him to the line in second.
"That lap car killed our momentum, and that was the only way I could get through turns three and four," Schatz said on his late charge falling short. It gave us an opportunity to try something and I think we'll end up sitting okay, hopefully. Those points are important. I think we've got a car capable of winning, but we won't know until Saturday comes and we see what hand we've been dealt. I've never seen something like that tonight with only two of the top 20 making the Feature."
After winning back-to-back Wednesday preliminary Features at the Knoxville Nationals, 2019 champion David Gravel lost his pursuit of a trifecta as he finished P3 in the 2022 opener. The Watertown, CT native was the only of ten drivers to start from row four and transfer (top-four) out of Heat Race action. It was a move that paid dividends in the long run for Big Game Motorsports #2.
"I didn't start too far back, but I lost the road map for a few laps and really struggled," Gravel said. "I got it together the last 10-12 laps, thankfully. The car wasn't right there in the A-Main, so we'll have to keep working on it. It was a stressful night with how much trouble everyone had with points. This track was different, but I guarantee we won't have this on Saturday."
After offering a hotly contested battle for second, Giovanni Scelzi, of Fresno, CA, and James McFadden, of Alice Springs, NT, AUS, slipped back to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rounding out the top-10 was Aaron Reutzel in the RSR #8, Justin Peck in the Buch Motorsports #13, Cole Macedo in the Dietz Motorsports #14J, Corey Day in the Meyers Construction #14, and Roger Crockett in his own #11.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (25 Laps) - 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 2-David Gravel ; 4. 18-Giovanni Scelzi ; 5. 83-James McFadden ; 6. 8-Aaron Reutzel ; 7. 13-Justin Peck ; 8. 14J-Cole Macedo ; 9. 14-Corey Day ; 10. 11-Roger Crockett ; 11. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 12. 11M-Parker Price-Miller ; 13. 19-Brent Marks ; 14. 16A-Colby Copeland ; 15. 39-Justin Sanders ; 16. 91-Kyle Reinhardt ; 17. 17C-Carson Short ; 18. 73-Scotty Thiel ; 19. 55W-Mike Wagner ; 20. 101-Lachlan McHugh ; 21. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier ; 22. 2KS-Ian Madsen ; 23. 2M-Davey Heskin ; 24. 6B-Brandon Wimmer . Lap Leader(s): Logan Schuchart 1-25. KSE Hard Charger Award: 11M-Parker Price-Miller[+9]