KNOXVILLE, Iowa -- Narrowly holding off Sammy Swindell off the final turn at Knoxville Raceway, Canada's Thomas Kennedy raced to his first career victory with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by Sawblade.com.
Grabbing the Thursday opener of the 28th annual Knoxville 360 Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank, Kennedy also has the distinction of being the first Canadian shoe to win a 360cid A-Feature at the Iowa half-mile.
"I was struggling to get through lapped traffic there. Sam [Hafertepe] and everyone else seemed to be the same pace I was, and I knew I was losing a lot of momentum and I looked at the board and I see the No. 3 car was there and he's the veteran of the veterans at this track and when I seen him underneath me for the checkered I went no way you're passing me," said Kennedy of his run and final trip to the front straightaway.
Rolling to the green second on the lineup, the Buffalo Wild Wings No. 21k swapped lines for a side-by-side battle with California's Mason Daniel on the opening lap. Caution on the second lap for Tasker Phillips, who made hard contact with the wall in the second turn, Kennedy was able to hold off any challenge as the race behind him heated up.
With Mason able to keep some pace with Kennedy, the pair rolled away from a ferocious battle from third to sixth with Scott Bogucki racing with Jamie Ball, while Brian Brown battled with Greg Hodnett.
Swapping positions several times to the mid-point of the A-Feature, a bobble off the bottom of the second turn by Bogucki on Lap 11 shot the Sawblade.com No. 28 across the track, opening the bottom line for Sammy Swindell to roar from seventh to fourth. Taking third from Jamie Ball one lap later, Swindell trailed the No. 33 of Mason Daniel by over a straightaway with Daniel 15 car lengths back from Thomas Kennedy who was approaching traffic.
Slowly through the backmarkers, Kennedy began losing his advantage over Mason Daniel.
Cutting Kennedy's advantage to only a few car lengths, Mason was there with five laps to go, but so was Sammy Swindell. Making up a straightaway in a matter of laps, the trio came to the white flag with the Rossie Feed and Grain No. 3s taking away second.
Peddling off the bottom of the second turn, Swindell hit the low line of the final two turns as Kennedy diamond off the cushion to slam the door on Sammy with the two nearly making contact off the final turn as Kennedy held on to victory by 0.262 seconds.
Sammy Swindell in second was joined on the podium by Mason Daniel. Moving up from seventh, Brian Brown ended up fourth in the Casey's General Store/FVP No. 21 with Ryan Giles rolling from 15th to make up the top-five.
Greg Hodnett settled for sixth in the Lelands.com No. 27, followed by Dominic Scelzi who advanced 15 positions after having to race his way in through the B-Feature. Jamie Ball was shuffled back to eighth with Shane Golobic ninth. Also having to race through the B-Feature, California's Cory Eliason rolled ahead 13 spots to finish tenth.
The 28th annual Knoxville 360 Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank continues Friday, August 3 with Pits opening at 3:00 P.M. followed by Hot Laps at 6:45 P.M. with Qualifying to follow. Live PPV coverage can be found on http://www.thecushion.com as well as live audio on http://www.racinboys.com.
For information on Knoxville Raceway and everything happing during the Knoxville Nationals, log onto http://www.knoxvilleraceway.com.
For other news, notes, and information on the American Sprint Car Series, from the National Tour to any of the Regional Tours that make up the nearly 150 races across the ASCS Nation in 2018, log onto http://www.ascsracing.com, follow on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter (@LucasOilASCS).
A Feature (20 Laps): 1. 21K-Thomas Kennedy, ; 2. 3S-Sammy Swindell, ; 3. 33M-Mason Daniel, ; 4. 21-Brian Brown, ; 5. 9-Ryan Giles, ; 6. 27-Greg Hodnett, ; 7. 41S-Dominic Scelzi, ; 8. 5J-Jamie Ball, ; 9. 17WX-Shane Golobic, ; 10. 83-Cory Eliason, ; 11. 28-Scott Bogucki, ; 12. 09-Matt Juhl, ; 13. 7C-John Carney II, ; 14. 53-Joe Beaver, ; 15. 4J-Lee Grosz, ; 16. 99-Skylar Gee, ; 17. 55-Mckenna Hasse, ; 18. 22H-Randy Hannagan, ; 19. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, ; 20. 14-Tony Stewart, ; 21. 13V-Seth Brahmer, ; 22. 28C-Jonathan Cornell, ; 23. (DNF) 4-Jon Agan, ; 24. (DNF) 7W-Tasker Phillips, 
-Lucas Oil ASCS Press Release
-Photo credit: Paul Arch