Great Eight: Donny Schatz takes 8th win in Knoxville Nationals

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Donny Schatz notched his eighth victory in sprint car racing’s most prestigious event, the Knoxville Nationals, on Saturday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.

Schatz drives for Tony Stewart Racing and, per USA Today’s Nate Ryan, took the checkered flag in Knoxville a few hours after Stewart’s car struck and killed an on-foot Kevin Ward Jr. in an incident during a sprint car race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

Starting from the pole position, Schatz led almost all of the A-Main feature but was challenged by Brian Brown late. With seven laps left in the 50-lap race, Brown went to the high line of Turn 2 and made the pass for the lead.

But his lead was short-lived as Schatz re-claimed the point just one lap later. He pulled away to a 1.243-second win over Brown, who had to settle for his third consecutive runner-up finish in the Nationals.

“Racing is all about making decisions, and I was just getting so slow around the bottom of Turns [1 and 2],” Schatz said. “I thought, ‘Well, I could just keep the tires under me maybe no one’s going to get that run.’

“I just couldn’t get the top going that well then it cleaned off and Brian got by…Went to the bottom…I tried to stay with him, and when he went to the top at the other end, I was able to get back by him.”

Schatz hailed Brown’s performance, saying: “I know he’s going to beat me one of these days. I hope it’s no time soon, but he’s a hell of a racer.”

Joining Schatz and Brown on the podium was third-place finisher Kerry Madsen, who won the Kings Royal earlier this season.

Schatz’s win earned him $150,000, the biggest purse in sprint car racing.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.