Schatz wins 10th Knoxville Nationals title
KNOXVILLE, Iowa—It's double digits for Donny Schatz.
For the 10th time in his career, Schatz won the 57th annual Knoxville Nationals late Saturday night. It was the 10th time in the past 12 years that Schatz has won the Nationals, considered the top sprint car race in the country.
The West Fargo driver and the rest of the World of Outlaws will continue their season Friday night at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks and Saturday at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo.
"'We're glad to get this win; it's incredible," Schatz said in victory lane. "This whole race team is incredible with what they do."
Schatz started second and trailed pole-sitter David Gravel, who led the first 21 laps of the 50-lap race, which paid the winner $150,000. But Gravel lost the lead when his engine failed on Lap 22. Schatz took over the top spot and led the rest of the way.
However, he had to hold off NASCAR star Kyle Larson in the closing laps.
"I knew someone would be coming (at the end of the race)," said Schatz. "Kyle normally finds everything there is in a race car. You got to stay on your toes with him. He's an awesome sprint car driver. It stinks that he has another career (NASCAR) to deal with. I'm just glad that he's part of the sport and still comes back."
Schatz also leads the WoO points race and will try to pad that advantage Friday in Grand Forks, Saturday at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo and Sunday at the Nodak Speedway in Minot.
Friday's race at RCS will mark the 20th time the Outlaws have raced in Grand Forks. Schatz has won six of the past nine WoO features at The Bullring and has finished first or second in 11 of the past 13 features.
Another local driver fared well at the Nationals. Mark Dobmeier—the dominant driver at RCS for years—qualified for Saturday night's feature and finished 12th, earning $14,000 in the process. Dobmeier, who started the Nationals' top race for the fourth time in his career, finished third in Thursday night's preliminary feature.
The four-day Nationals drew 100 cars from around the country. Only 24 qualified for Saturday night's feature.