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: Newgarden, Sato quickest in first of 2 Friday practices at Road America

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Josef Newgarden was quickest in the first of Friday’s two INDYCAR practice sessions at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion covered the 4.048-mile, 14-turn course with a best lap of 1:43.0477, followed by Takuma Sato (1:43.4729), Alexander Rossi (1:43.5603), Robert Wickens (1:43.5774) and Marco Andretti (1:43.8825).

Sixth-quickest was Tony Kanaan (1:44.0429), followed by Spencer Pigot (1:44.1080), Zach Veach (1:44.1306), Scott Dixon (1:44.1643) and Matheius Leist (1:44.2963).

Alfonso Celis Jr., making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut and with Juncos Racing, was 22nd quickest in the 23-car field at 1:44.9164, while Gabby Chaves was the slowest driver on the course at 1:46.4485.

While there were no significant incidents during the 45-minute session, a number of drivers struggled in several turns, primarily due to some lingering puddles from overnight rain, as well as on rumble strips that threw their cars into adjacent grass areas.

The second practice session today takes place at 4:15 p.m. ET.

A third practice kicks off Saturday’s busy day at Noon ET, followed by qualifying at 4 p.m. ET, the second round of qualifying at 4:40 p.m. ET and the third and final round of qualifying at 5 p.m. ET.

The weekend’s main event, Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, takes the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Make sure to tune in to NBCSN for the live telecast of the race.

We’ll have the full practice grid and driver quotes shortly. Please check back soon.

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