Knoxville, IA – David Gravel swept Toyota Night #2 at the 57th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway. After setting quick time, the Watertown, Connecticut native won his heat and the feature after starting eighth in both events aboard the CJB Motorsports #5. It was the first time for a perfect 500-point score since Steve Kinser did it in 1992. The win was Gravel’s second in his career at Knoxville, paid him $12,000 and set him up on the pole of Saturday’s night’s $150,000 to win championship event.
Disaster befell Knoxville Nationals defending champion, Jason Johnson before a circuit could be completed in the 25-lap main event. After getting sideways, he collected the machine of Dominic Scelzi. Scelzi would restart at the tail after repairs, but Johnson would not be as lucky.
Once the green fell again, pole-sitter, Mark Dobmeier, showed the way, ahead of Brooke Tatnell and Wayne Johnson. Gravel entered the top four on the second lap, and claimed third from Wayne Johnson on lap four. Brian Brown would drive from sixth to fourth on laps six and seven.
Gravel used the low side to shoot by Tatnell for second on lap eight, as Dobmeier entered lapped traffic. Tatnell’s great third place run would derail on lap ten with a blown right rear. The caution negated a Gravel pass of Dobmeier for the lead in turn two.
Dobmeier would pull away in clean air on the restart, while Brown challenged Gravel for the second spot, taking it briefly. The leaders entered lapped traffic again on lap 18, and Gravel slid under Dobmeier in heavy lapped traffic on lap 19 to take the lead for good.
Gravel pulled away to victory, while Brown took second with two laps to go. Dobmeier, Ian Madsen and Daryn Pittman followed. Wayne Johnson, Terry McCarl, Danny Dietrich, Spencer Bayston and hard-charger, Rico Abreu completed the top ten. Joining Gravel as heat winners, were Chris Martin, Thomas Kennedy, Dale Blaney and Josh Baughman. Abreu won the B main, while Lee Jacobs took the C.
Gravel will start Saturday night’s main event alongside Donny Schatz. They will be joined in order by Brad Sweet, Kerry Madsen, Brian Brown, Terry McCarl, Daryn Pittman, Greg Hodnett, Kyle Larson, Shane Stewart, Austin McCarl, Paul McMahan, Mark Dobmeier, Rico Abreu, Ian Madsen and Wayne Johnson.
Tradition dictates that the ten drivers locking into Saturday’s B main will stay put instead of taking the option of starting over with the remaining field on Friday. That was the case again this year. Those drivers included Justin Henderson, who will be on the pole, Trey Starks, Jason Sides, Dusty Zomer, Lucas Wolfe, Christopher Bell, Danny Dietrich, Tim Shaffer, Matt Juhl and Dominic Scelzi.
“I did get the lead (on lap 10), but the yellow came out,” said Gravel in Victory Lane. “I knew Mark would be good in open track. I was just going to run behind him until we hit traffic and run the bottom. I was lucky I got back by Brian. I made the mistake of running down the track, but the top was the fastest way around. I’m in a zone right now. Little holes look big. Like Kyle Larson said, I’ve never driven a sprint car this good. Hopefully, Saturday, we can duke it out. I’m happy to be in the books. Hopefully, we have something for them Saturday.”
“I’m just proud to be standing here,” said Brown. “I could have named you five or six times throughout this night I should be on the hook. From the C main last year to here we are now…we’ve just wanted an opportunity to win the Knoxville Nationals and we’ve put ourselves in position. Congratulations to David and his team. I never thought we’d see a perfect score again in my lifetime. The exciting part is we have the World Challenge tomorrow to work on things.”
“He showed speed all night long,” said Dobmeier of Gravel. “He had it from the word go. The lapped cars held me up a bit. In the end, I think I was a little too patient with them. I needed to try the bottom in one and two. That’s where I lost the race. Tonight it bit me. We’ve only hit two weekly shows here, and we’ve definitely stepped our big track program up.”
Join us tomorrow night for FVP Night at the 57th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores! For more information, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com!
-Knoxville Raceway Press Release
-Photo credit: Paul Arch
Knoxville Nationals Night #2 A-Main Results
Knoxville Raceway (IA) – August 10, 2017
1. David Gravel (8); 2. Brian Brown (6); 3. Mark Dobmeier (1); 4. Ian Madsen (9); 5. Daryn Pittman (5); 6. Wayne Johnson (2); 7. Terry McCarl (7); 8. Danny Dietrich (11); 9. Spencer Bayston (12); 10. Rico Abreu (21); 11. Tim Kaeding (18); 12. Josh Baughman (20); 13. Trey Starks (23); 14. Dominic Scelzi (10); 15. Jason Sides (24); 16. Justin Henderson (22); 17. Jack Dover (14); 18. Kyle Reinhardt (13); 19. Thomas Kennedy (15); 20. Kraig Kinser (19); 21. Chris Martin (17); 22. Dale Blaney (16); 23. Brooke Tatnell (3); 24. Jason Johnson (4)