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Predicting the 2015 Knoxville Nationals

Here are a few of what I could consider educated guesses on who’s going to win what during the 55th running of the Knoxville Nationals. On Night #1 I boiled it down to 34 drivers that have a legitimate shot at making the $150,000-to-win finale, while Night #2 contained 33 such drivers. You can when drivers have been scheduled to race as well as any other Knoxville info you might be looking for right here.

Justin Henderson qualified well on Sunday like usual, but his racing left a little to be desired. He was 4th quickest in his group, dropped back in his heat and had to run the B-Main, but was able to muster up an 11th place finish in the Capitani Classic. I’m sure that finish didn’t match his expectations, and come Wednesday night he’ll be motivated to start the night of right.

I believe Daryn Pittman gets the win on Preliminary Night #1. It’s almost a guarantee that he’ll quailfy well, and Daryn will most likely pick up a handful of spots in his heat which will set him up nicely for the feature. With a lot of points, I expect the KKR #9 team to be starting in one of the front two rows.

I’ll hand the Thursday fast time award to Kerry Madsen. Notoriously good for qualifying, I believe it will be either Madsen or Joey Saldana. The Keneric Racing #29 machine ran better last night, so I’ll go ahead and give him the nod.

Fan-favorite Terry McCarl is undoubtedly a favorite heading into his preliminary night. Always a contender and fresh off his 360 Nationals win, McCarl will not want to be overshadowed by his Aussie counterpart that set Quick Time.

Going a step further, I have listed the 24 car starting field for Saturday’s finale. The lists in its entirety can be found below. Here’s how I went about picking the drivers that I did:

   1. Picked 6 drivers from each preliminary night that I felt would race their way in
   2. Picked 4 drivers from each preliminary night that can lay down a fast Time Trial lap
   3. Eliminate 2 drivers from each night that I had picked, based on who is more likely to “step on it”

That gave me the first 8 rows, or 16 starting positions…the next two rows are filled out by the Top 4 from Friday’s main. I selected four drivers that I believe will be in bad enough position points wise to want to run Friday’s show.

Finally, I mixed the remainder of the drivers and picked the four that I believed had the best shot of racing their way in through a short sprint (B-Main & possibly C-Main), all while keeping in mind that they needed to have a decent preliminary night.

Now that the starting field is set, it’s time to pick a winner. Could I go out on a limb, make a wild prediction and then look crazy smart if that driver just so happens to win? Sure, but then I would also most likely be wrong, and that’s not what this is about.

Donny Schatz for the win. Again.

Below you can find a recap of all of my Knoxville Nationals predictions. And here’s a little shameless plug for all you buffoons that still haven’t entered our Natty Pickem Contest.

Wednesday

QT – Justin Henderson; Win – Daryn Pittman
Thursday
QT – Kerry Madsen; Win – Terry McCarl
Saturday
Win – Donny Schatz
Feature Cars Transferring Through Preliminary Night
**Night #1 – 34 cars have legitimate shot
**Night #2 – 33 cars have legitimate shot
Christopher Bell (Night 1)
Dale Blaney (Night 2)
Danny Lasoski (Night 2)
Daryn Pittman (Night 1)
Donny Schatz (Night 1)
Ian Madsen (Night 1)
James McFadden (Night 2)
Jason Sides (Night 1)
Justin Henderson (Night 1)
Kerry Madsen (Night 2)
Logan Schuchart (Night 2)
Lucas Wolfe (Night 2)
Sammy Swindell (Night 2)
Shane Stewart (Night 1)
Sheldon Haudenschild (Night 1)
Terry McCarl (Night 2)
Transferring Through Friday Night
Brian Brown
Jason Johnson
Joey Saldana
Tim Kaeding
Transferring Through B-main
Greg Hodnett
Paul McMahan
Stevie Smith
Tim Shaffer
Outlaws – 9
ASCoC – 3
Knoxville/NSL – 6
Posse – 3
Independent – 3

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