Predicting The 54th Knoxville Nationals
There is no questioning Donny Schatz is the odds-on favorite to win the 54th annual FVP Knoxville Nationals Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway. Schatz has won seven of the last eight editions of the Knoxville Nationals and last year he became the first driver to race through the B main to win the national championship feature. Not only has Schatz won 12 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series features this season, but he holds a commanding lead in the standings.
Some may call Australian Kerry Madsen a dark horse, but with victories in the Kings Royal at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and the Ironman 55 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, he has to be considered a favorite at Knoxville’s legendary half-mile, where he won the 2005 track championship.
Brian Brown won the 2010 Knoxville Raceway sprint car championship and has posted heartbreaking second-place finishes in the past two runnings of the Knoxville Nationals. The driver of the familiar No. 21 Casey’s General Stores entry may have gotten the boost he needed when he won this past weekend’s Knoxville 360 Nationals at the track he calls home.
In his first full season on the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series tour, Sweet has been a contender nearly every time his Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 is unloaded. Sweet won the WoO event at Knoxville earlier this year and won the 2013 Kings Royal, so he has tasted success in big races in the past.
Sammy Swindell’s bad luck at Knoxville Raceway is well documented. Swindell’s only Nationals victory came way back in 1983 and he has not had one of his better seasons. However, Swindell dropped off the World of Outlaws tour in early July and has been racing weekly at Knoxville since, testing his setups for the biggest race of the season.