2010: Shaffer Shocks Schatz At Knoxville
Editor’s Note: National Speed Sport News is going back in time and revisiting some of the past Knoxville Nationals races ahead of the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals. This is the first installment in the seven day series.
KNOXVILLE, Iowa — The engines could barely be heard above the crowd of 23,500 when Tim Shaffer slid under Donny Schatz and grabbed the lead as the pair raced to the white flag in the 50th annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway.
Shaffer led the final two laps to score one of the biggest upsets in the history of the prestigious event, earning $150,000 in Janet Holbrook and Aaron Call’s No. 83 in the Golden Anniversary of sprint-car racing’s most important race.
“When you see the checkers at the Knoxville Nationals, I just can’t describe the feeling,” said the defending All Star Circuit of Champions title winner.
Having won a preliminary feature at the Nationals last year and 10 features this season coming into Knoxville, Shaffer was hardly a longshot, but he also wasn’t the driver everyone was talking about.
But he took care of his car and was in position when it came winning time at the end of the 50-lap grind, the longest race in Nationals history.
“When I was running third, I hoped they would get tangled together and I would go past them,” Shaffer said. “But then Sammy (Swindell) blew that tire and spun and I really had to turn the car to miss him. Then I was second and I thought, ‘This is for real now.’
“When I went past (Schatz), I thought he would turn under me and come back past, but he didn’t.”
Schatz, meanwhile, finished second after having won the race four-straight years, nursing his ailing car to the checkered flag.
“When I went to go on the restart, I just couldn’t go,” Schatz explained. “Sammy was setting a blistering pace and I don’t know if I burned the engine up or what, but it didn’t go. My crew told me there was no oil in the engine at the end of the race, so we had some kind of a leak or something and we burned the engine up.
“Tim deserved to win the race. He was smart with his car and he was smart with his tires, and I ran my engine hard running with Sam and paid the price for it and that is just the way it goes.”