Inside Line Promotions - KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Aug. 11, 2020) - Kaleb Johnson displayed speed throughout the 30th annual My Place Hotels 360 Knoxville Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank before his weekend ended in the B Main on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway.
"We improved over our previous year so that was good," said Johnson, who finished 18th in the C Main in his first Nationals appearance in 2019 before being credited with a 23rd-place finish in the B Main this year. "But I would've been a little happier if we could've finished our last race on Saturday.
"The competition is always so tough for this event. I think about 16 of the 20 drivers who were locked into Saturday's A Main were full-time drivers. But we always enjoy racing against the best because we believe it makes us better."
Johnson began competition on Thursday with time trials - his two most important laps of the weekend.
"Our qualifying went all right," said Johnson, who timed in 24th quickest out of 48 cars. "But I obviously didn't lay down the greatest lap.
"Our plan going in was to run one lap on the top and one on the bottom. Looking back, I should've done both laps on the bottom since it was better. While our first lap on the top was quicker, there was better grip on the bottom. Unfortunately, I missed the bottom going into turn three on the second lap. Otherwise I think it would have been faster. But the good thing was that it gave us a good starting spot in our heat race and set us up for making the A Main."
Johnson started on the pole for his heat race alongside Harli White.
"I raced with Harli for a few laps before I snuck by her on the backstretch about Lap 3 or Lap 4," he said. "Tim Shaffer was faster than me and he passed me with two laps to go and we finished second."
Johnson rolled off 14th on the A Main starting grid.
"The A Main was a little disappointing," he said. "I thought there was going to be more on the bottom and that's what we set the car up for. It turned out the top was better, but our car was pretty tight running there.
"There was a yellow around halfway and I was running 14th. I tried the bottom on the restart and lost a couple of spots before I went back to the top and just kind of held on and finished 16th."
Johnson's points total from Thursday slotted him in the 13th starting position for Saturday's B Main.
"Our first few laps went well and I felt we had a pretty good car," he said. "We moved up to ninth when there was a red flag on Lap 4. When the race restarted, I went into turn one on the top and got stuck in dirty air. It sent me over the cushion and into the fence. It broke the right rear shock and bent both right side wheels and ended our race.
"It was disappointing, but I was happy we had a good car. We probably wouldn't have made the transfer without some luck, but I think we could've moved up to about fifth or sixth."
Johnson will take this weekend off before returning to competition on Aug. 21 at Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and Aug. 22 at Park Jefferson International Speedway in North Sioux City, S.D., with the Midwest Power Series and Midwest Sprint Touring Series.
QUICK RESULTS -
Aug. 6 - Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa - Qualifying: 24; Heat race: 2 (2); Feature: 16 (14).
Aug. 8 - Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa - B Main: DNF (13).
SEASON STATS -
14 races, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 5 top 10s, 7 top 15s, 10 top 20s
UP NEXT -
Aug. 21 at Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and Aug. 22 at Park Jefferson International Speedway in North Sioux City, S.D., with the Midwest Power Series and Midwest Sprint Touring Series
MEDIA LINKS -
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Johnson would also like to thank Merle Johnson Farm Toys, GRP Motorsports, Oddson Underground, JF Capital, Snyder Tree Service, State Bank of Fairmont, Sea Foam, Schaeffer's Oil, Hepfner Racing Products, DeBerg Concrete, Big Al's Diecasts, The Ron Weber Team, DeBerg Flooring, Dave's Lawn Care & Landscaping, Triple M Trucking, Last Deck and Marthaler Dodge for their continued support.
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*PHOTO BY PAUL ARCH*