1995: Kinsers Rule Knoxville Nationals
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth installment in National Speed Sport News’ 30 Days of Knoxville countdown to the 52nd annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals. During the coming days we will revisit past races, drivers and statistics, while previewing this year’s event.
KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Although he didn’t express it, the 35th annual Amoco Knoxville Nationals feature had to make Karl Kinser proud.
After all, his son, Mark, and his former driver, Steve Kinser, led all 30 laps in the $309,500 race. Mark, whose No. 5m Wirtgen Maxim Karl owns and maintains, led the first 17 laps from the pole. Steve, who won 10 Nationals titles and 14 World of Outlaws championships with Karl as his car owner, steered his No. 11 Quaker State Maxim deep into the third corner to take the lead with 12 1/4 laps remaining on his way to the $100,000 victory.
“It’s a great feeling to win this race again, but I have to remember we had an awful good teacher,” Kinser said following his second $100,000 triumph in as many weeks. “Our whole racing team, (crew chief) Scott (Gerken) and myself, was taught by Karl Kinser. We learned from the best. He taught us how to do things right, so we have to give him a lot of credit.”
Mark Kinser, who outscored the other 143 racers in the largest field in Nationals history, burst into the lead as flagman Doug Clark waved the green flag in the championship feature. He had almost completed the first lap when Sammy Swindell and Johnny Herrera collided entering the third corner, setting off a six-car crash. Severe damage to their cars kept Lee Brewer Jr., and Craig Dollansky from restarting the race, while Herrera, Dale Blaney and Steve Beitler stopped on the track and were forced to restart at the back of the pack. Dollansky’s left-rear tire, jerked from the axle in the crash, almost hit Kinser’s top wing as he raced past.
Mark Kinser raced into the lead again as the race resumed, while Steve Kinser took the high road around seven sprinters to move into seventh place during the opening lap. Mark was a half-straightaway ahead of six-time Knoxville Raceway champion Danny Lasoski and B main winner Dave Blaney was battling Steve for sixth place when Skip Jackson lost his muffler and brought out the caution flag late in the fourth lap.
As the green flag replaced the yellow, the Kinser cousins were on the move again. Mark quickly increased his advantage while Steve rode the rim into second place by the end of the lap four. Mark was a half- straightaway ahead of Steve by the seventh lap, and caught the backmarkers two laps later.
Steve narrowed the gap in lapped traffic as Blaney raced into fourth place midway through the race. Steve caught Mark the next time around, and the cousins almost collided entering turn three late in the 16th lap.
“The King of the Outlaws” returned to the high groove, then made a sharp left turn under Mark to take the lead in the third corner two laps later.
“We never touched,” Steve said. “”I got a run on him off two and I had to close him down going into three. I slipped by him and got down on the bottom to give myself a little breathing room. At that point, I wasn’t making very good time in three and four, so I went back to the top. I started getting slow off two late in the race, and I thought I saw shadows of somebody passing me back. I don’t know if that was a lapped car or what. All I know is, I’m here and that’s all I care about.”
Once he took the lead, there was no passing the 11-time Nationals champion. Steve opened a half-straightaway lead within four laps as Blaney and Jeff Swindell challenged Mark for the runner-up spot.
Swindell passed Blaney for third with six laps remaining, only to have Blaney return the favor the next time around. Swindell had the Gold Eagle Maxim flying during the final five laps, and passed both Blaney and Mark late in the 28th lap. He was racing into turn four when Kinser took the checkered flag.
“I was all over the place,” Kinser said. “Coming out of turn two, I was just rubbing the wall all the way around. I had a good car, and I was wanting it awful bad. I could run high and low, but I was staying high because there were more cars running the bottom. If I could hold my own on the top, I was going to stay there because I had a clear race track.”
By winning the Nationals from the seventh row, Kinser tied a 33-year old record set by Jerry Richert Sr., for the longest run to the championship.
Mark, visibly disappointed by his third-place finish, said he should have “run different lines on the race track when I approached lapped traffic than sticking to my plan to run in the low groove all night. I couldn’t have changed anything on the car to make it any faster.”
Blaney received the Wells Lamont Hard Charger Award for racing into fourth place from the 11th row. Lasoski finished fifth, ahead of Sammy Swindell, 23rd-starting Jac Haudenschild, Andy Hillenburg, Bobby Davis Jr., and Stevie Smith.
Sammy competed in a NASCAR SuperTruck race in Flemington, N.J., earlier in the evening, then flew across the country via jet, and arrived in Knoxville at 9:20 — a little more than an hour before the green flag fell in the main event.
Haudenschild earned the Nationals’ Hard Charger Award by winning the C main from the fifth row, passing 20 cars to finish third in the B, and racing into seventh place from the back row in the championship feature. In all, he passed 44 cars in three races.
Scott Whitworth breezed past Dave Ekern with two laps remaining to win the E main and Max Dumesny led all 12 laps to claim the D main.
Steve Kinser, Jeff Swindell, Mark Kinser, Dave Blaney, Danny Lasoski, Sammy Swindell, Jac Haudenschild, Andy Hillenburg, Bobby Davis Jr., Stevie Smith, Terry McCarl, Frankie Kerr, Dale Blaney, Johnny Herrera, Keith Kauffman, Randy Hannagan, Steve Smith, Steve Beitler, Ed Lynch Jr., Jerry Richert Jr., Joey Saldana, Skip Jackson, Craig Dollansky, Lee Brewer Jr.
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