The Dude Wins 360 Nationals Opener

View from the Stands (8/2/2013)
by Eric Arnold, Knoxville Raceway Blogger & Twitter Commentator

23rd Annual Knoxville 360 Final_SmallNight one of the Arnold Motor Supply 360 Nationals is in the books and what a show Danny Lasoski and Kyle Larson put on for us!  On the start of the feature front row starters Danny Dietrich and Larson went low racing each other to the bottom, leaving the top open and Lasoski took advantage and raced by them both and came away with the lead.  Larson would catch Lasoski in traffic and attempted a last lap slider going into turn three, but the veteran Lasoski stuck his 1m on the bottom coming off of turn four to win by a car length.

Lasoski timed tenth, and barely made it through his heat race finishing fourth and transferring after a hard fought battle with Dustin Selvage.  That heat race set the tone for the feature, and the Dude is fifth in points and will start mid-pack on Saturday night. The feature was so good, and probably the most aggressive I’ve seen the Dude at Knoxville in a long time.  Hopefully this gives him a confidence boost as well going into next week, because I desperately want to see him run 50 laps in that race.

Larson & Lasoski race for the lead. (Chuck Stowe photo)

Larson & Lasoski race for the lead. (Chuck Stowe photo)

Wayne Johnson finished third and with setting quick time he comes away as the point leader on the night with a total of 490 points. Wayne said afterwards in the press conference that they had been struggling so bad all season and that they decided to get back to the basics and put together the car he raced in 2008 and won the 360 Nationals with, and it’s the best he has felt in the seat this season. That move paid off, and it will likely put him on the top two rows on Saturday night and give him a legit chance to win his third 360 Nationals.

Brad Sweet had a good showing, qualifying third, finishing second in his heat, and fourth in the feature.  Larson timed thirteenth despite drawing 35 in the qualifying order and won his heat.  Sweet and Larson are locked into the A Main on Saturday and shouldn’t have any issues making it back to Knoxville on time after they run at the pavement track up the road earlier in the evening.

Brad Sweet and Logan Forler (Tim Aylwin photo)

Brad Sweet and Logan Forler (Tim Aylwin photo)

Jason Johnson quietly had a good night qualifying second, third in his heat race, eighth in the feature puts him third in points.  He couldn’t seem to go forward in the feature however, so he will have to get better on Saturday if he wants to finally win this race.

Brad Loyet drew the #1 spot in qualifying and took advantage by getting fourth quick, finished third in his heat race, and fell from fifth to twelfth in the feature, but enough to put him sixth in points.  If his team can find the race set up he could be a top ten car on Saturday night.

Knoxville Regulars having a good showing were Davey Heskin who came from tenth to seventh in the feature and is ninth in points at 455, which should be enough to get him the Saturday championship race.  Dustin Selvage impressively was fifth in qualifying even though he went out late in the order, but then finished fifth in his heat after he drew the toughest heat race for the night with Crockett, Cornell, Hannagan, and Lasoski in front of him. Selvage and Lasoski had a great race for sixth the first half of the heat race, and after Lasoski went by, Selvage made it by Dustin Morgan for fifth coming down at the finish.  Selvage is tenth in points.  Joe Beaver is eleventh in points and although he qualified fifth, he couldn’t get through his heat and transfer to the feature.  So after finishing second in the B Main, he ended the night in eighteenth in the feature. Selvage and Beaver will be at the back of the A, or the front of the B on Saturday.  Jon Agan went out eleventh in qualifying and would end up twenty-first and on the front row of his heat, which he won, then finished tenth in the feature.  Has to be a bit disappointing for Agan who has been a solid qualifier all season, but he is twelfth in points and I don’t see any reason why he can’t come from the B on Saturday and race his way into the A and come up through the field a ways.

Lasoski in victory lane with Kyle Larson & Wayne Johnson. (Max Dolder photo)

Lasoski in victory lane with Kyle Larson & Wayne Johnson. (Max Dolder photo)

PA Posse fans went nuts on Twitter when Danny Dietrich was starting on the pole of the feature, and then he faded to thirteenth.  A good showing for his first night ever at Knoxville honestly, and I’m sure his main goal was to get laps and experience for next week.  But still, you get a front row starting spot at Knoxville and you have to come away a tad disappointed.  We will see what Double D can do on Saturday coming from the B Main.

Top 15 in Points: 1. Wayne Johnson 490, 2. Brad Sweet 487, 3. Jason Johnson 478, 4. Kyle Larson 474, 5. Danny Lasoski 473, 6. Brad Loyet 466, 7. Lee Grosz 461, 8. Jonathan Cornell 459, 9. Davey Heskin 455, 10. Dustin Selvage 450, 11. Joe Beaver 444, 12. Jon Agan 442, 13. Johnny Herrera 442, 14. Danny Dietrich 441, 15. Randy Hannagan 440.

Tonight we have a slightly larger field of cars.  The guys to watch are Shane Stewart, Brian Brown, Sam Hafertepe Jr, Don Droud Jr, Nate VanHaaften, Billy Alley, Brandon Wimmer, Mark Dobmeier, Brooke Tatnell, Justin Henderson, Clint Garner, Danny Holtgraver, Terry McCarl, Kevin Swindell, Dusty Zomer, and I presume Jeff Swindell who has not pre-entered, but is toward the top of the ASCS National points.

I’m hearing Brian Brown lost his primary 360 engine last Saturday night when the throttle stuck, and their back-up engine isn’t as strong.  But he is Brian Brown and you can’t count him out. Use that bit of info for your Nationals pool and fantasy leagues folks.

Shane Stewart and Paul Silva will show up with fresh everything on the same ART chassis from last year and will be tough to beat I have a feeling.

Interesting that Terry McCarl is driving the Call/Holbrook 83 tonight instead of Tim Shaffer.  But Terry has had a long friendship with Janet Holbrook over the years and has drove for them in the past. Shaffer didn’t look too impressive in the #6 last night, dropping out the feature.

Cars that didn’t show last night that were entered, 21KX Lou Kennedy, 71 RJ Johnson, and 87 Jason Barney.  RJ Johnson I presume is trying to put a car together after crashing the past two Saturday nights.  Kennedy and Barney might show tonight instead.  Bronson Maeschen has no 360 engine and will not show tonight, another gamblers tip for ya.

Can’t wait for tonight!!! Be sure to use the official hash tag, #KXVNATS13 over the next 9 days!

*Eric can be contacted at 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.

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