Inside Line Promotions - KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Aug. 9, 2021) - Justin Henderson piloted Mike Sandvig's No. 7 sprint car to an eighth-place finish on Sunday during the Fatheadz Eyewear Capitani Classic presented by Great Southern Bank at Knoxville Raceway.
The event serves as the last opportunity for drivers preparing to compete in the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey's General Stores at the track, which is held later this week. Combined with a third-place finish during the 31st annual My Place Hotels 360 Knoxville Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank on Saturday in his family owned MAX Motorsports No. 83, Henderson likes his chances entering this week's annual crown jewel event.
"I'm feeling really confident and I don't think anything is stopping us from a good week at the Nationals except for ourselves," he said. "We've obviously got some local insight on the place, but then again that hasn't seemed to have meant too much over the years for this event. We're just going to try and grab the momentum we've got and give it our best shot and see what happens."
Henderson kicked off Sunday night by timing in fifth quickest in his qualifying flight of 32 drivers with a lap of 15.541 seconds. He then advanced one position in a heat race to finish second and as a result he qualified for the pole shuffle.
Henderson knocked off Giovanni Scelzi, David Gravel and Sheldon Haudenschild in a trio of two-lap match races before falling to Donny Schatz in the last round before the final to earn the third starting spot for the night's $8,000-to-win feature.
"I was hoping to get the pole to be able to get out front, but the car showed speed against some really good cars," he said. "Any time you can get a few extra laps on the track is always a positive as you're always looking for that advantage over the next guy."
Henderson shot to the second position on Lap 1, but a caution halted racing activities before a lap could be completed. He lined back up in third, but fell back to fourth after the restart. He settled into that spot for the majority of the race before dropping to fifth with five laps remaining. A restart with four laps to go allowed several drivers to get around him and Henderson ended eighth.
"We were running a pretty solid fourth and after that last caution the car just kind of went away on us," he said. "I knew with five laps to go we really had to go for it and I tried pulling my wing back and it just kind messed with our mojo. I think we were a top-three car, but that's the way things go sometimes."
Next up for Henderson and Sandvig will be the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway. Their preliminary night will take place on Wednesday and as a former winner in preliminary action in 2012, Henderson knows how important it will be to come out the box fast.
"We just need to have a really solid night and hopefully get ourselves locked in," he said. "We have no intentions of racing on Friday to get into the big show and if we can do our part Wednesday that makes things a lot easier for our weekend."
Henderson's career-best finish in the Nationals came in 2013 when he placed third behind Schatz and Brian Brown. Henderson also scored a top five in the event in 2014 and a top-10 result in 2008. However, it's the prospect of making his first career Knoxville Nationals with Sandvig that has him chomping at the bit.
"Mike's never made a Knoxville Nationals as an owner so I'd really like to make that happen for him," he said. "There is a pretty good chunk of change on the line just to get in, but at the same time we're not coming just to qualify.
"We've had a really good season up to this point and it'd be a shame to not capitalize on that success and have a good showing for the Nationals. My game plan is to lock ourselves in with a spot in the first four rows and just try and hang around those first 25 laps. If we're there for the second 25 then we'll have a shot to be up front and I really think we can contend for a win."
QUICK RESULTS -
Aug. 8 - Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa - Qualifying: 5; Heat race: 2 (3); Feature: 8 (3).
SEASON STATS -
35 races, 6 wins, 14 top fives, 19 top 10s, 25 top 15s, 31 top 20s
UP NEXT -
Wednesday through Saturday at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, for the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey's General Stores
MEDIA LINKS -
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT - Morton Buildings
Morton Buildings builds the finest, pole barns, equestrian buildings, steel buildings and more. For more information, visit http://www.MortonBuildings.com .
"We've had a relationship with Morton Buildings for more than four years and they've really grown in the racing scene," Sandvig said. "We're thrilled to have such a reputable sponsor as part of our team."
Sandvig would also like to thank Mamma's Pizza of Wellsville, Emory Transmission, Eszlinger Electric, DeBerg Flooring, R2 Enterprise, GRP Motorsports, Winters Performance, Schoenfeld Headers, BK Racing TI Components, SBS FK Shocks, Wings Unlimited, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Rider Racing Engines, Hinchman Racewear, Heartland Kitchen Solutions, Triple X Race Co., Boji Custom Metal Works and Simpson Race Products for their continued support.
INSIDE LINE PROMOTIONS -
Inside Line Promotions specializes in affordable public relations and media management for motor sports drivers, teams, sponsors, tracks, series, events, organizations and manufacturers. ILP Founder Shawn Miller leverages professional journalism with new media technologies and social networking to improve your exposure and the return on investment for your sponsors.
To meet the media relations needs of your program by joining Team ILP, contact Shawn at 541-510-3663 or Shawn@InsideLinePromotions.com . For more information on Inside Line Promotions, visit http://www.InsideLinePromotions.com.
*PHOTO BY PAUL ARCH*