Marks among contenders

KNOXVILLE, IA — Brent Marks has a lot to be proud of after a sixth place finish during his preliminary sprint car feature Wednesday night at the Knoxville Raceway.

That finish placed him fourth in points and likely into the Saturday night A-main pending Thursday night results.

Regardless if he’s locked in or not, Marks, of Myerstown, a former Tuscarora 50 champion, is in a good position and proud of the results.

Marks, who finished third in the King’s Royal last month at Eldora Speedway, would earn at least $10,000 for making the 50-lap Nationals A-main Saturday night that pays $150,000 to win.

“I’m really happy with it,” Marks said. “We’re sitting fourth in points right now and I’m pretty sure that’s going to lock us in. We’ll see. Hoping for a good starting spot on Saturday to see what we can do. The car felt great all night. I felt like we had speed all night. A couple circumstances there in the feature broke my momentum and we couldn’t really get up through there.”

Marks was involved in a three-wide race for position late in the main event.

“Everybody’s fighting so hard out there, but you also have to be a little cautious, too, because for a team like us, we’re in good position to make the race on Saturday and that’s what matters,” Marks said. “We were aggressive, but not overly aggressive.”

Marks timed 11th quick out of the 53 cars and finished third in his heat race. The Knoxville heat races are some of the toughest all season and that held true Wednesday night as only three of the top 11 in time trials qualified through their heat races.

“It’s really tough,” Marks said referring to the brutal heat races. “I started sixth and it was still hard for me to even make the thing. You’ve got to be really good. You’ve got to get a good start. I think that’s the most important part. If you don’t, you’re going to be chasing the whole time.”

Marks has been racing on the road with the World of Outlaws for several seasons now.

“I’m really proud,” Marks said. “We made the race on the Friday night show before and now we made it on our prelim night …I think. It’s awesome. It goes to show you how well this team works together and how good our cars are Maxim’s and HP Engines, and FK Shocks. It’s a joy to drive.”

Trey Starks won the 25-lap feature Wednesday night. Starks used to be a central Pennsylvania regular, but has been racing in the mid-west this season. Scott Gobrecht, of New Oxford, co-owns the car with Jeff McCall.

James McFadden, Sheldon Haudenschild, Mark Dobmeier and Aaron Reutzel completed the top five in Wednesday’s feature. Starks took the lead from Dobmeier on lap six. Marks, Tanner Thorson, Jac Haudenschild, Paul McMahan and 21st starter Tim Kaeding rounded out the top 10.

Donny Schatz and Kyle Larson were two of the favorites going into the Nationals. Larson timed well, but like many others, failed to qualify through his heat. He finished sixth in the B-main.

About the same story for Schatz, but he finished fourth in the B-main advancing to 11th in the A-main.

If Schatz is going to win his 11th Nationals, it won’t be coming from an up front starting spot and likely from the B-main.

Larson could choose to race Saturday night, but his points will likely have him starting in the C-main. He finished third in last year’s A-main and second in 2017.

Williams Grove Speedway point leader Danny Dietrich timed fourth, finished sixth in his heat and one spot from transferring in the B-main. He ranked 15th in points and likely to race again Friday night.

Former Grove champion Freddie Rahmer is a Nationals rookie this year. He struggled in qualifying and his heat race. He did win the C-main.

Pennsylvania Outlaw Logan Schuchart finished 12th in the B-main. He timed 17th and finished fifth in his heat.

More Pennsylvania drivers were scheduled to compete Thursday night including Lance Dewease, Brock Zearfoss, Jacob Allen, and Anthony Macri, who makes his Nationals debut and TJ Stutts, who made a last-minute decision to race at the Nationals. Top National drivers Brad Sweet, David Gravel and Daryn Pittman were among the Thursday racers as well.

The top 16 in total points after Thursday will be locked into the Saturday night A-main. Drivers not locked in get another shot Friday night. The race pays $150,000 to win, $75,000 for second and $10,000 simply to qualify.