2001: Flawless Performance From Lasoski
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth 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 — On a night when many contenders had problems, Danny Lasoski turned in a flawless performance to win Saturday (Sunday morning) night’s Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals.
With 30,000 fans jamming Knoxville Raceway, Lasoski led all 30 laps to win sprint-car racing’s crowned jewel for the second time, banking a sprint-car racing record $125,000 for his Tony Stewart Motorsports team.
Lasoski credited crew chief Jimmy Carr, who also helped him with the event in 1998, with the setup under his J.D. Byrider Eagle, which carried a Kistler engine, while riding on Hoosier tires.
“I’m just elated,” said Lasoski, who talked to his car owner, Winston Cup driver Tony Stewart, from victory lane. “When we won this race in 1998 I felt like it was tarnished because of Sammy’s (Swindell) claiming the fuel bladder valve stuck. Tonight there aren’t any excuses…Now we can stick our chest out.”
It was a long, frustrating evening for the 30,000 spectators and competitors alike. The program was delayed more than an hour when the track preparation crew got the half-mile, black-dirt oval too wet.
After a collection of accidents during the E, D, C and B mains, it didn’t take long for the chaos to begin in the feature.
Polesitter and overwhelming favorite to win Donny Schatz got the jump at Doug Clark’s initial green flag. However, Schatz blasted into turn one only to have the left-rear Goodyear tire on his J&J chassis come off the rim, sending his No. 15 into the outside wall. After a series of flips, the car stopped on the track only to be hit at full speed by Brad Furr.
The impact punctured the fuel tank on Schatz’s machine, and fuel leaked on the track. Schatz was transported to the Knoxville Hospital for observation, but was promptly released without injury, as was Johnny Herrera, who made the trip to the hospital following an accident during the B main.
The second attempt to start the race was met by more trouble as Craig Dollansky, who restarted at the tail of the field after his car received minor damage in the Schatz incident, drove into the first turn, slid to the cushion and promptly began flipping.
With Schatz out of action, three-time and defending Nationals winner Mark Kinser inherited the pole. However, Lasoski got the jump and promptly left Kinser in the dust. He raced into lapped traffic on the ninth circuit and Kinser and third-place Joey
Saldana could do little to catch the orange-and-white No. 20.
Lasoski narrowly avoided disaster on lap 20 when Jeff Shepard spun directly in front of Lasoski. Shepard was able to keep his car rolling, and Lasoski narrowly avoided contact with the No. 5. The green flag stayed out briefly and Lasoski kept digging. Before another lap was complete, Australian Kerry Madsen stopped on the track and the yellow flag waved.
“That was really close. I had no idea which way he was going to go. I actually went to the outside and had to cut it back to the inside.
Four lapped cars were between Lasoski and Kinser on the restart, and all “The Dude” had to do was keep it between the walls. Another yellow waved on lap 25 when Sammy Swindell, racing with specially made splints on his badly injured hands, stopped on the track.
With three of the lapped cars still separating him from Kinser, Lasoski sailed to an easy victory.
“Yeah, Jimmy Carr signaled me that those cars were there,” Lasoski smiled. “I knew then that I was looking good.”
“It’s like being a boxer,” Kinser explained. “Those lapped cars are like two kidney punches and an uppercut. It is very difficult to recover from.”
Kinser earned $62,500 for second, while Saldana, Stevie Smith and Knoxville Raceway point leader Terry McCarl rounded out the top five.
“Sixty-two-thousand dollars for second place isn’t too half-assed bad,” roared Kinser, who said the ignition box in his Mopar Maxim went out in the final two laps.
Steve King led every lap to win the E main, while Tony Moro led the D flag to flag. The C main was a similar race, with Kenny Jacobs leading all 15 laps. Greg Hodnett started fifth and won the B main, but he was aided by accidents, which took out much of the competition, including Herrera, Dale Blaney, Kasey Kahne, Don Droud, Jr., Ed Lynch, Jr. and Mike Goodman. Blaney and Lynch each flipped in the same accident in turn two, and Lynch returned to be collected in a five-car melee, which was triggered when a wheel came off the car of leader Goodman. Joining Hodnett as transfers to the feature were Shane Stewart, Madsen and Daryn Pittman.
Curt Trainer and Ronald Laney also flipped earlier in the program.
Jason Sides, who finished seventh in the B main, was named Nationals rookie of the year.
Lasoski spoke for the entire field, saying, “The Knoxville Nationals is 50-percent luck.”
On this night, Lasoski was both lucky and good.
E Main (10 laps): 1. Steve King; 2. Tim Monson; 3. Toni Lutar, $700; 4. Terry Pletch, $600; 5. Jim Cameron, $500; 6. Brian Carlson, $475; 7. Darren Stewart, $450; 8. Bob Bennett, $425; 9. Gerald Cressman, $400; 10. Charlie Osborne, $375; 11. Bill McCroskey, $350; 12. Shane Hunter, $325; 13. Derrick Beckman, $300; 14. Bobby Mincer, $295; 15. Curt Trainer, $290.
D Main (12 laps): 1. Matt Moro; 2. John VanDenBerg; 3. Kraig Kinser, $1,000; 4. Tim Kaeding, $900; 5. Travis Cram, $800; 6. Christi Passmore, $700; 7. Lynton Jeffrey, $600; 8. Larry Ball, Jr., $500; 9. Todd Gracey, $475; 10. Ronald Laney, $450; 11. Kevin Whitworth, $425; 12. Jesse Gianetto, $400; 13. Ralph Spithaler, Jr., $375; 14. Tommy Tarlton, $350; 15. Jon Agan, $725; 16. King, $1,100; 17. Brian Ellenberger, $295; 18. Duane Bonini, Jr., $275; 19. Wayne Johnson, $270; 20. Chad Meyer, $265; 21. Monson, $660; 22. Sean Walden, $255.
O’Reilly Auto Parts C Main (15 laps): 1. Kenny Jacobs; 2. Johnny Herrera; 3. Brian Paulus, $1,400; 4. Rob Chaney, $1,300; 5. Kim Mock, $1,200; 6. Danny Smith, $1,100; 7. Max Dumesny, $1,000; 8. Peter Murphy, $900; 9. Jason Johnson, $800; 10. Len Thompson, $750; 11. Leonard Lee, $700; 12. Jamie Moyle, $650; 13. Larry Pinegar II, $625; 14. Manny Rockhold, $600; 15. Brent Antill, $575; 16. VanDenBerg, $1,150; 17. Mark Toews, $525; 18. Kevin Frey, $500; 19. Randy Anderson, $475; 20. Travis Rilat, $450; 21. Moro, $1,025.
Channellock B Main (22 laps): 1. Greg Hodnett; 2. Shane Stewart; 3. Kerry Madsen; 4. Daryn Pittman; 5. Lance Dewease, $5,000; 6. Jac Haudenschild, $4,000; 7. Jason Sides, $3,000; 8. Dean Jacobs, $3,300; 9. Byron Reed, $2,000; 10. Skip Jackson, $1,750; 11. Ricky Logan, $1,500; 12. Jeff Mitrisin, $1,400; 13. Danny Wood, $1,300; 14. K. Jacobs, $2,000; 15. Gary Wright, $1,100; 16. Don Droud, Jr., $1,000; 17. Dale Blaney, $900; 18. Ed Lynch, Jr., $800; 19. Calvin Landis, $750; 20. Kasey Kahne, $700; 21. Herrera, $1,450; 22. Mike Goodman, $600.
Feature (30 laps): 1. Danny Lasoski, $125,000; 2. Mark Kinser, $62,500; 3. Joey Saldana, $32,500; 4. Stevie Smith, $22,500; 5. Terry McCarl, $15,000; 6. Tim Shaffer, $12,000; 7. Paul McMahan, $10,000; 8. Jason Meyers, $9,000; 9. Randy Hannagan, $8,500; 10. Sean Michael, $8,000; 11. Steve Kinser, $7,500; 12. P.J. Chesson, $7,000; 13. Greg Hodnett, $8,500; 14. Shane Stewart, $8,000; 15. Daryn Pittman, $6,900; 16. Dennis Moore, Jr., $5,800; 17. James Chesson, $5,700; 18. Jeff Shepard, $5,650; 19. Kerry Madsen, $6,500; 20. Chad Kemenah, $5,400; 21. Sammy Swindell, $5,300; 22. Brad Furr, $5,200; 23. Donny Schatz, $5,100; 24. Craig Dollansky, $5,000.
SPEED SPORT Magazine “digital edition” now available for iPad and iPhone!
Get one year for just $12.99. Single issues (including back issues) are available for $2.99.
Click here to visit the iTunes App Store for details!