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.