KNOXVILLE, IA - August 10, 2017 - David Gravel became the seventh different driver, and first in 25 years, in the 57-year history of the 5-Hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals, to complete a perfect score by setting quick time, winning his heat race and winning the feature. Gravel's perfect night will earn him the pole of Saturday's $150,000 to-win Feature alongside nine-time Knoxville Nationals Champion, Donny Schatz.
A first lap incident saw Dominic Scelzi and defending 5-Hour ENERGY Nationals Winner Jason Johnson get together, ultimately ending the latter's evening.
"I don't know exactly what happened, I stepped on the throttle and the car got way loose on me," Johnson said following the evening. "We're going to have to go to work tomorrow. It's obviously not the position we want to be in, but we're thankful for the way format is now to get to run tomorrow."
The melee moved Gravel from his original eighth starting position up a row to sixth. Gravel rocketed off the top of turn two and was third by the completion of the opening circuit. Gravel worked his way to second before a caution for then third place running Brooke Tatnell on lap 10 bunched the field together.
Brian Brown, who fell as far back as seventh, restarted third and passed Gravel for the runner-up position, allowing race-long leader Mark Dobmeier to extend his lead. Gravel found moisture on the bottom of the speedway, passed Brown back and set his sights on the leader. Dobmeier stumbled a bit in lapped traffic and Gravel pounced and took the lead on lap 18 and never looked back.
"Clean air is so important these days. It's better to be running second in lapped traffic," Gravel said about his pass for the race lead.
Gravel drove away and completed the perfect night by winning by 3.413 seconds. The perfect score for David Gravel was the first recorded since Steve Kinser did so in 1992, coincidentally the same year Gravel was born.
"It's surreal. We're going to try and enjoy this tonight and end up with a solid finish Saturday," a modest Gravel said in regard to his perfect evening.
Brown settled for second after an adventurous evening that saw him get crossed up on a couple of starts. "After being in the C-main here last year, I had some newfound respect for this place. I am thrilled to start fifth in the feature this year," Brown said following his evening.
Following the qualifying nights, World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series drivers own the top three in points with Gravel, Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet. Daryn Pittman (7th), Shane Stewart (10th) and Paul McMahan (12th) are also locked into Saturday's 50-lap finale.
Jason Sides will start third in the Last Chance Showdown on Saturday, while the rest of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series drivers will re-qualify on Friday night to determine their fate for Saturday's program.
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