View from the Stands (7/1/2013)
by Eric Arnold, Knoxville Raceway Blogger & Twitter Commentator
Well, Mark Dobmeier certainly has something figured out since Guy Forbrook joined their team. Congrats to the Lunstra/Dobmeier #13 team for their performance. Has to be rewarding making that drive from Grand Forks and going home with a trophy, and they won again Sunday at Huset’s. They have timed eighth and sixth the past two weeks, which is a huge help considering they hadn’t timed in the top ten all season previously. Keep an eye on this team over the next month leading up to Nationals. Dobs just moved way up in my Nationals Power Rankings this week.
Ian Madsen’s point lead lost a little ground again this week, but still has a comfortable 188 point lead of Bronson Maeschen. That fourth place finish with the Outlaws on June 15th is really carrying Ian in the point chase, along with no bad breaks so far, but no wins yet.
410 Twin Features this week!!! It’s always pivotal. If you are going to make up ground, or lose ground in the points, this is the week. And when you have a handful of “outsiders” coming in to compete this week, it makes it even tougher. I’m hearing Kyle Larson will be here in both 360 and 410, and his buddy Rico Abreu will be here again.
It sounds like Rico will be at Knoxville every week through the Nationals, except for the week of the Kings Royal where he is going there. Abreu amazes me. We all know he is talented, but for him to do what he does considering his size is even more amazing. He might weigh 100 pounds, so he has to be well conditioned and work hard. Knoxville is a demanding track and I don’t think fans appreciate just how demanding it is on the drivers. Abreu lined up on the pole for the feature, but was taken out by Jason Johnson on the start, forcing Rico to pit with a damaged race car and nose wing. But with Paul Silva wrenching for him he should have a good car under him to race with. He came up to eleventh this week, look for him to improve.
Maeschen looked good again this week. The guy can drive. His improvement the past couple of years is so cool to see. Can he get a win this week?
Terry McCarl is sneaky good in third place in points right now, 206 points out. T-Mac had one bad night in weekly shows, and not great in the WoO shows, but he is right there in contention. I keep thinking he is going to pull this thing out somehow. He has done it before when I thought he was too far out. Look for McCarl to do well on twin features night.
Dusty Zomer and crew chief Jeff Woodruff had the Ingalls #91 dialed in this week qualifying fourth and finishing third in the feature. I keep thinking they are due for a win. Great interview with him this past week on the Knoxville YouTube channel.
Davey Heskin was up and down this week. He timed seventh, but his car did not handle well in the heat race and he missed the top six transfer and he struggled to get around Mike Moore to win the B main. But they changed some things for the feature and after starting twenty-first he was in the top five in no time. Good effort by the Maxwell 56 team.
I’m growing concerned with the performances of Don Droud Jr. recently. Qualifying average is 13.7 and feature finish average is 10.2. Droud is a good shoe, but the Sonner 47 isn’t the car it was three years I’m fearing. Droud drove the Ochs Brothers 1x in the 360 class this week preparing for the 360 Nationals. This is the car Garry Lee Maier used to drive.
How about RJ Johnson’s performance in the Vermeer 55 the past two weeks. He has qualified fifth and thirteenth, finished eighth and twenty-second in the features. For his first laps in a 410 he has done well.
Justin Henderson is out of the Ferkel sprinter. He is too good of a shoe to be sitting out for long.
Good to see 31 cars in this field on Saturday for Twin Features. Look for similar car counts leading up to the 360 Nationals.
Garner finished fourth and third in the features. He timed eighth this week, but there was no invert so he had nothing to gain by laying down. I apologize to the 40 team, looks like the Parker engine isn’t as strong as it was a year ago, but the guy can drive it in the features!
Joe Beaver ran second and fifth, and might have won the first feature if a caution hadn’t come out late. Another good run for him. He lost twenty-four points to Garner but is solidly in third for points.
Garner, VanHaaften, and Beaver have separated themselves from the rest of the field in points.
Jon Agan spun out while running in sixth place in the first feature and finished twentieth. He then started at the front of the second feature and finished fourth. It was a costly points night for him, although he held his position in fourth, he went from 81 points out of third place, to now 219 points out.
If anyone needed a win, it was Dustin Selvage. He had a little luck go his way with Randy Martin having a tire go down, but Selvage needed that boost of confidence. Hope they can get the 410 car back on track. After some good finishes, they have struggled a little the past few weeks to qualify well. But he seems to have a good handle on the 360 car, but will need to get a little better to compete at the 360 Nationals.
Stat of the week; 410 twin feature sweep has been done by the following drivers. Danny Lasoski 1990 & 1996, Jac Haudenschild 1991, Bobby Davis Jr. 1984, Sammy Swindell 1982, Mike Brooks 1980, and Doug Wolfgang 1977.
Can anyone bring out the broom and sweep the features? Kyle Larson just might. But the #KnoxvilleRegulars will be strong. I wish there was a bonus of some kind to win both.
Nationals Power Rankings: 1. Schatz, 2. Brown, 3. Stewart, 4. McMahan, 5. Dollanksy, 6. Kaeding, 7. Pittman, 8. Larson, 9. Shaffer, 10. Dobmeier, 11. K.Madsen, 12. Heskin, 13. Gravel, 14. I.Madsen, 15. S.Smith, 16. Blaney, 17. Zomer, 18. Swindell, 19. Hodnett, 20. T.McCarl, 21. Maeschen, 22. Rahmer, 23. Lasoski, 24. Saldana.
Don’t forget we are still taking pre-orders for the book, Knoxville Nationals: The First 50 Years. You can pre-order the book by finding the book order form available on the track website in the “entry forms” section. You will also be able to buy them in person the week of the Nationals.
The entries for the 360 and 410 Nationals are rolling in daily. You can keep up with those on Twitter at the @knoxvillenats handle.
My wife claims that Chicken Bites are better if you buy them early, let them sit, and eat them cold during intermission. Anyone else agree with that theory? I’ll eat them fresh thank you.
Anyone have any thoughts they want to share? Leave a comment below. The Nationals is only one month away! See you in the stands!
*Eric can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @_EricArnold.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Knoxville Raceway.