Dewease a lock for Knoxville’s A-main
KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Although not at all satisfied with his sprint car’s performance Thursday night, Lance Dewease scored just enough points to lock himself into the Knoxville Nationals A-main Saturday night.
The Donnie Kreitz-owned team earns at least $10,000 for making the main event.
Dewease timed 11th quick out of 56 cars and then finished second in his heat race. He started fourth in the 25-lap preliminary feature, but faded to a 14th place finish. The top 16 in total points after the first two nights are locked in and Dewease was 16th beating James McFadden by one point.
He knows they have a lot of work to do before the 50-lapper Saturday night. He is confident that fellow Sprint Car Hall of Famers car owner Donnie Kreitz and mechanic Davey Brown will have the 69K faster for tonight.
“I wish we weren’t as bad as we were there in the feature,” Dewease said. “We know from tonight what we did wrong. They’ll have it better by Saturday. At least we’re in and we get to race now.”
Dewease hung on to stay in the top 16. His last A-main start was 2011, where he finished eighth.
“I knew pretty quick,” Dewease said. “They’ve done a really good job out here with the app and all. Everybody knows pretty fast. Dave Reedy from Penske walked by and said I was in. I was happy. I was still upset with the race car, but I was happy.”
A tight race car hindered Dewease during the 25-lap main event.
“We had a really good heat, but the feature we weren’t very good,” Dewease said. “We’ll be alright by Saturday. This is a different deal. We try to do what we do back home and just got way too tight.”
Former Port Royal Speedway champion Brock Zearfoss appeared headed to victory in the 25-lap Nationals preliminary feature Thursday night. Zearfoss started on the pole and led the early laps of the main event. After a restart, Zearfoss had an ignition box failed causing his car to stop. He rejoined the field at the back. Even if he hadn’t won the feature, he likely would have been locked into the top 16 in points.
Two other local racers competed Thursday night. Anthony Macri was making his first ever Nationals start, while T.J. Stutts was competing in the Nationals for the first time in many years. Neither qualified and Stutts flipped in the B-main. He was okay.
David Gravel won the Thursday night feature earning $12,000 in the Jason Johnson Racing 41. Defending Nationals champion Brad Sweet finished second. Carson Macedo, Cory Eliason, and Rico Abreu completed the top five. Joey Saldana, Tim Shaffer, Parker Price-Miller, Matt Juhl and Daryn Pittman rounded out the top 10.
Aaron Reutzel was the high point man and will lead the field to green for the 59th running of the Knoxville Nationals Saturday night. The 50-lap championship feature pays $150,000 to win and $10,000 to start. Gravel will start second with veteran drivers Joey Saldana and Tim Shaffer in row two.
The late Jason Johnson steered his 41 to victory in the Nationals three years ago. Saldana wasn’t planning on running the Nationals and had to borrow an engine just to compete Thursday night. Shaffer won the B-main and raced from 21st starting spot to finish seventh. Shaffer won the 50th Anniversary Nationals in 2010.
Parker Price-Miller and defending race winner Brad Sweet are in row three. The rest of the top 10 starters include Tim Kaeding, Paul McMahan, Brent Marks and Daryn Pittman.
Wednesday night winner Trey Starks and Knoxville Raceway regular Matt Juhl are in row six. Cory Eliason, Ian Madsen, Sheldon Haudenschild and Dewease complete the top 16.
Four more drivers will be added to the starting field Friday night andthen the final four from Saturday night’s B-main.
Ten-time Nationals champion Donny Schatz was 20th in combined points and will race in the B-main Saturday night. He’ll have a long way to go to win number 11.
Other than Dewease, it will be a struggle for any other Pennsylvania driver to make the field. Williams Grove point leader Danny Dietrich will attempt to qualify Friday night, along with Macri and Pennsylvania Outlaws Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen.