KNOXVILLE, Iowa – August 12, 2017 - Donny Schatz inherited the lead on lap 22, after race-long leader David Gravel slowed with motor problems, and held off NASCAR star Kyle Larson to win his 10th 5-Hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals Presented by Caseys General Store.
Schatz, who turned 40-years old this week, trails only Steve Kinser 12 in Knoxville Nationals Championships. Larson settled for second with Australian Kerry Madsen rounding out the podium. World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series drivers Shane Stewart and Brad Sweet completed the top five.
Following his perfect qualifying night, David Gravel flexed his muscles early establishing a sizeable advantage over fellow front-row starter, Donny Schatz. Gravel was masterful in lapped traffic and set a torrid pace. Schatz pulled ahead of Gravel on the 12th circuit, but Gravel got back by at the line. Gravel again stretched his lead out before disaster struck on lap 22. The perfect weekend for the Watertown, CT driver came to an end in turn four after losing power in his CJB Motorsports No. 5.
"Something let go on the backstretch and then something let go in turn three and four," a disappointed Gravel said following the race. "We have a fast car. We're going to come back, win some races and kick some ass."
Kerry Madsen assumed second and took his shot at the lead with a massive slide job in turn one to no avail. Schatz, Madsen and Larson attacked the cushion before Terry McCarl brought out a caution with 24 laps in the book. The yellow flag turned red and served as the mandatory fuel stop for the teams.
Following the red, Larson slipped by Madsen while Schatz extended his lead and battled through heavy traffic. "I knew I needed to push the issue. It got pretty hairy a couple of times. The race track had a pretty tricky lip," Schatz said.
Schatz and Larson flirted with danger lap after lap before Larson took his shot in traffic. On the final circuit, Larson tried a bonsai slide job to no avail as he had the best view watching the Tony Stewart Racing No. 15 cross the finish line first.
"I'm thankful I was able to run tonight. I can't think Chip [Ganassi] enough. The months leading up to this event I thought I was going to be able to race Wednesday and that's it," Larson said in the post-race press conference.
For Schatz, it was his 10th Knoxville Nationals Championship in the last 12 years.
"It's been a hell of a streak. All the second places I had before I finally won changed the whole dynamic and view of this place for me. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work with the same people for such a long amount of time," a pleased Schatz said.
Donny Schatz will go for his 11th 5-Hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals title at the same time, same place next year. Up next for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series is a trip to North Dakota for a three-race weekend starting Friday at the River Cities Speedway.
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