TSR’S COUNTDOWN TO THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS
Schatz Carries a Motorsport Icon to Victory Lane
Editor’s Note: During each of the five days leading up to this year’s 52nd Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, Tony Stewart Racing will revisit each of Donny Schatz’s five Knoxville Nationals triumphs in advance of Sprint Car Racing’s biggest event, which kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 8.
The Knoxville Nationals brings out the best in every competitor. It brought out of the greatest drivers in motorsports history in 2009. For the 49th Knoxville Nationals, Donny Schatz drove a commerative STP car that commemorated Mario Andretti’s 1969 Indy 500 victory. The legend was on-hand the day before the Natioanls began and unveiled the car with Schatz, Tony Stewart and Jonathon Pauluga from STP. THe following night the Nationals opened and Schatz was forced to wait out another rain shower. Qualifying began just before 10 p.m. and Schatz would end up third overall.The rain made the track surface lightning fast and the three-time Knoxville champ once again had to come through the B. In the 25-lap preliminary feature, he charged from 21st to seventh. For the finale, Knoxville decided to move the race to a 40-lap event with a mid-race break for fueling the cars. Schatz started sixth and was running third when the race was stopped on lap 22. He settled into third for 10 laps before making his move. Schatz passed Stevie Smith for second on lap 32 and the following lap showed leader Joey Saldana his nose. The next lap he drove by Saldana coming out of turns three and four and would lead the final five laps to become the second driver to win four consecutive Knoxville Nationals. In victory lane, he thanked Mario Andretti for being involved with him during the week and while walking to the post-race interview, Andretti called Schatz to congratulate him on the historic victory.
Schatz will compete in his 19th Nationals and wearing a special blue Simpson racesuit. Through a joint promotion between Tony Stewart Racing and STP one lucky fan will win the racesuit. Entrants will only be accepted on-site beginning, Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 12 noon, through Saturday, Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. Schatz will make his first laps in the suit during the opening night of the Knoxville Nationals on Aug. 8.