by Bill Wright
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (August 14, 2021) – Kyle Larson has dreamed of a Knoxville Nationals title his whole life, and that dream was realized in the 60th NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals Presented by Casey’s championship Saturday night at the Knoxville Raceway. Including lap money, the Elk Grove, California native earned $176,000 for his ride aboard the Paul Silva #57.
The 50-lap finale saw pole-sitter, Gio Scelzi, lead early over Donny Schatz, Larson, David Gravel and Brad Sweet. The recently reworked track was very good in the bottom groove, and Scelzi shot into lapped traffic on the seventh circuit.
Larson rode low to pass Schatz for second on the same lap, and Sweet moved by Gravel for fourth on lap nine. Schatz would catch fire at that point, however, getting back by Larson on the low side for second on lap ten and carrying his momentum to take the lead from Scelzi on lap 11.
Larason followed him by celzi to take second on lap 13, as the leaders cruised behind traffic. Nearing the halfway mark, Gravel and Sweet battled for fourth, with Brent Marks close behind.
Up front, Larson rode the cushion around Schatz to lead lap 25. Schatz came right back on the 27th lap and rode the cushion past Schatz in turn two. The pass was negated when the mandatory pit stop yellow flag was thrown.
With 24 laps to go, Larson led the pack ahead of Schatz, Scelzi, Gravel and Marks. Rico Abreu spun when a group of cars in front of him tangled. He pulled in shortly thereafter. On lap 29, Brian Brown jumped the turn one cushion, getting upside down. The incident collected Tyler Courtney and Cory Eliason. Brock Zearfoss suffered damage, and Sheldon Haudenschild flattened a right rear, but both restarted at the tail.
Gravel grabbed third from Scelzi on the restart, and Sweet followed him into fourth on lap 31. At that point, Gravel’s mount went up in smoke and pulled to the infield.
Larson built a lead over Schatz out front as rubber began to develop a car length down from the cushion. Eventually, the groove moved down low on the track, and Schatz reeled in the leader. He appeared to be faster in three, and threw the Tony Stewart Racing #15 a little higher to attempt a pass that fell short. One more try on the white flag lap also failed to work.
Larson’s win came ahead of Schatz, who earned $89,000 counting his lap money. Sweet, Scelzi and Logan Schuchart followed. Marks, James McFadden, Kasey Kahne, Carson Macedo and hard-charger Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the top ten. Jason Sides won the E main, Jack Dover claimed the D main, Hunter Schuerenberg took the C main and Macedo won the 22-lap B.
Several awards were handed out during the night as well (complete list below).
“Gosh, I’ve always dreamed of winning this race,” said an emotional Larson in Victory Lane. “This atmosphere this week was unbelievable. I think a year off last year made the roof explode! I felt the energy all week, and that kept me pumped up. Honestly, this is as nervous as I’ve been leading up to a race in a couple of years. I had butterflies all day today. During Cup practice (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), it was all I could think about. (Owner/Crew Chief) Paul Silva is the best there is. I wanted to get the lead before the halfway point. I looked at the board and I knew we were coming down to the end of it. I decided to blitz it, and I pulled it off. (Schatz) actually got back by me before that caution came out. After the yellows, I just didn’t know what to do. I was watching the big screen and it was taking rubber. I got behind Shane (Stewart) and I kind of settled in. I could see Donny was taking huge chunks out of my lead lap after lap. He was on my rear bumper and I just told myself, ‘I know he’s here, just don’t miss it.’ It was great to beat Donny here for the Nationals. He beat me a few years ago, and he’s the best there is.”
“I gave it everything I had,” said Schatz. “I was kind of surprised when the racetrack changed like that, but it did. We just had to change with it. I seen (Larson) get to the bottom, and I thought there was no way there was rubber down there. Sure enough, it was kind of chalked up. I got closer to him and the laps wound down. I thought the lapped car was going to hold him up so I smoked it up into three. I gave it the old ‘Hail Mary!’ It didn’t quite come out in the spot I wanted. It’s good to come here and have a decent run. Kyle’s been knocking on the door of this forever, and he’s definitely a ‘one-off’ talent. If we ever see anything like that in our lifetime again, I guess it will be pretty rare. It feels good to be back here with all the fans.”
“I gave a little too much track position the first 25 laps,” said Sweet. “I didn’t get a very good start and the track was a little crumbly up top after the track rework. We had to work our way back up there, and once we got to third, I felt we could pace Donny. Kyle was kind of out. We searched the racetrack and found some rubber in spots. Luckily, we brought it home third and we can’t complain. Hat’s off to Kyle and Donny. I felt like we had a really good car. It was just going to be tough driving up by Donny and Kyle.”
The crowd had a chance to say their good-byes to Jac Haudenschild who is retiring from his Hall of Fame career after this season. He was serenaded on both the front and backstretch. His night ended in the B main.
Join us for Iowa Corn Growers Association Districts 5 and 9 Season Championship Night on Saturday, August 28! For more information, visit or check Knoxville Raceway’s Facebook and Twitter.
60th NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals Presented by Casey’s Championship Results
E main (started), 10 Laps, NT: 1. 7s, Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN (1); 2. 2DC, Dylan Cisney, Port Royal, PA (5); 3. 1a, Jacob Allen, Hanover, PA (6); 4. 7c, John Carney II, El Paso, TX (3); 5. 13s, Tyler Esh, Quarryville, PA (9); 6. 15m, Bobby Mincer, Burlington, IA (8) / 7. 2K, Kevin Ingle, Huron, SD (10); 8. 14K, Tori Knutson, Monticello, MN (7); 9. 83A, Austin Miller, Lacona, IA (2); 10. 56, Joe Simbro, Pleasantville, IA (4) DNS – 1z, Logan Wagner, Harrisonville, PA; 9G, Ryan Giles, Grimes, IA; 17A, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA; 35P, Skylar Prochaska, Lakefield, MN; 2m, Matt Moro, Polk City, IA; 101, Cale Thomas, Fairland, IN; 5x, Parker Price-Miller, Kokomo, IN. Trunk Bar $300 First NQ: Ingle.
D main (started), 12 Laps, NT: 1. 53D, Jack Dover, Springfield, NE (2); 2. 73A, Scotty Thiel, Sheboygan, WI (3); 3. 7w, Dustin Selvage, Indianola, IA (4); 4. 13, Mark Dobmeier, Grand Forks, ND (1); 5. 2KS, Chad Kemenah, Alvada, OH (5); 6. 53, Jessie Attard, Landilo, NSW, Aust. (6) / 7. 1x, Jake Bubak, Arvada, CO (12); 8. 1m, Don Droud Jr., Lincoln, NE (15); 9. 9JR, Derek Hagar, Marion, AR (11); 10. 97, Greg Wilson, Benton Ridge, OH (13); 11. 55K, Robbie Kendall, Catonsville, MD (9); 12. 18R, Ryan Roberts, Aurora, NE (14); 13. 65, Jordan Goldesberry, Springfield, IL (10); 14. Jacob Allen (21); 15. 10, Jeff Swindell, Memphis, TN (16); 16. 21w, Riley Goodno, Knoxville, IA (17); 17. 11T, TJ Stutts, Liverpool, PA (18); 18. Jason Sides (19); 19. Dylan Cisney (20); 20. John Carney II (22); 21. 44, Chris Martin, Ankeny, IA (7); 22. Tyler Esh (23); 23. Bobby Mincer (24); 24. 20G, Noah Gass, Mounds, OK (8) DNS – 07, Skylar Gee, Leduc, ALB, Can.; 5w, Lucas Wolfe, Mechanicsburg, PA. Trunk Bar $600 First NQ: Bubak.
C main (started), 15 Laps, NT: 1. 55, Hunter Schuerenberg, Sikeston, MO (2); 2. 3, Ayrton Gennetten, Gravois Mills, MO (9); 3. 11N, Harli White, Lindsay, OK (3); 4. 3P, Sawyer Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (11) / 5. 27, Carson McCarl, Altoona, IA (7); 6. 28, Tim Shaffer, Aliquippa, PA (4); 7. 11TK, Tim Kaeding, Campbell, CA (15); 8. N47, Marcus Dumesny, Sydney, NSW, Aust. (18); 9. 11, Roger Crockett, Broken Arrow, OK (5); 10. 40, Clint Garner, Sioux Falls, SD (10); 11. 7TAZ, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (14); 12. Mark Dobmeier (20); 13. 20, AJ Moeller, Rockwell City, IA (6); 14. 83T, Tanner Carrick, Lincoln, CA (17); 15. 5V, Colby Copeland, Roseville, CA (12); 16. Jessie Attard (22); 17. Dustin Selvage (21); 18. 55W, Mike Wagner, Harrisonville, PA (13); 19. Jack Dover (19); 20. 55M, McKenna Haase, Des Moines, IA (8); 21. Chad Kemenah (23); 22. 2c, Wayne Johnson, Tuttle, OK (1); 23. 24, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA (16) DNS - Scotty Thiel; 09, Matt Juhl, Tea, SD.
B main (started), 22 Laps, 6:47.5: 1. 41, Carson Macedo, Lemoore, CA (2); 2. 14, Kerry Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (7); 3. 26, Cory Eliason, Visalia, CA (5); 4. 17, Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (8) / 5. 11m, Spencer Bayston, Lebanon, IN (4); 6. 17w, Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA (12); 7. 11K, Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN (6); 8. 25, Scott Bogucki, McLaren Vale, SA, Aust. (10); 9. 56N, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (17); 10. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX (9); 11. 17B, Bill Balog, Hartland, WI (13); 12. 0, Lynton Jeffrey, Prairie City, IA (15); 13. Sawyer Phillips (23); 14. Ayrton Gennetten (21); 15. 42, Sye Lynch, Apollo, PA (3); 16. 39, Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK (18); 17. Hunter Schuerenberg (20); 18. 49J, Josh Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA (16); 19. 17x, Josh Baughman, Odessa, TX (1); 20. 70, Sammy Swindell, Lakeland, TN (19); 21. Zeb Wise (24); 22. 91, Kyle Reinhardt, Neptune City, NJ (14); 23. Harli White (22); 24. 22, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (11). DNS – 5, Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN.
A main (started), 50 Laps, NT: 1. 57, Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA (3); 2. 15, Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND (5); 3. 49, Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, CA (2); 4. 18, Gio Scelzi, Fresno, CA (1); 5. 1s, Logan Schuchart, Hanover, PA (8); 6. 19, Brent Marks, Myerstown, PA (4); 7. 9, James McFadden, Alice Springs, NT, Aust. (13); 8. 83, Kasey Kahne, Enumclaw, WA (7); 9. Carson Macedo (17); 10. Sheldon Haudenschild (20); 11. Kerry Madsen (18); 12. 0, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (11); 13. 73, Justin Peck, Monrovia, IN (15); 14. 71, Shane Stewart, Bixby, OK (23); 15. 3z, Brock Zearfoss, Jonestown, PA (24); 16. 49x, Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (10); 17. 39M, Anthony Macri, Dillsburg, PA (22); 18. 2, David Gravel, Watertown, CT (6); 19. 7, Justin Henderson, Tea, SD (14); 20. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO (9); 21. 7BC, Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN (12); 22. Cory Eliason (19); 23. 24R, Rico Abreu, St. Helena, CA (21); 24. 48, Danny Dietrich, Gettysburg, PA (16). Lap Leaders: G. Scelzi 1-10, Schatz 11-24, Larson 25-50. Hard-charger: S. Haudenschild.
Horsepower, Inc. Throwback Car of the Nationals – 1. 15m, Bobby Mincer ($2,000) 2. Jac Haudenschild ($1,000) 3. Justin Peck ($500)
Hoseheads Rookie of the Year – Ayrton Gennetten ($1,000)
Best Appearing Car – 1. Cory Eliason ($500) 2. Sye Lynch ($250) 3. Carson Macedo ($150)
Best Appearing Crew – 1. Jason Johnson Racing #41 ($500) 2. Buch Racing #73 ($250) 3. Rudeen Racing #26 ($150)
Calvin and Janna Knapp Best Appearing Helmet – 1. James McFadden ($500) 2. Jac Haudenschild ($300) 3. Brock Zearfoss ($200)
Beaver Drill & Tool Jesse Hockett Mr. Sprint Car Award – 1. Gio Scelzi ($6,000) 2. Brian Brown ($2,500) 3. Justin Henderson ($1,000)
SprintCarUnlimited.com Pole Award – Gio Scelzi ($2,000)