|Jason Johnson added his name to the records books as winner
of the 56th Annual Knoxville Nationals
Can you guess what 24 of the 25 drivers in this week’s rankings had in common…?
They were all at Knoxville Raceway last week for the greatest spectacle in dirt track racing. The best were on-hand for four straight days, and a slip-up at any point during the week meant you were not making the Knoxville Nationals A-Main.
Jason Johnson’s upset victory worth $150,000 is one of the greatest moments many of us have ever witnessed in sprint car racing. The Eunice, Louisiana driver was merely an afterthought in most people’s minds, even after he had earned a starting spot up front for the 50-lapper. However, Johnson was able to track down, pass, and hold off Donny Schatz, the overwhelming favorite, long enough to find victory lane. For his efforts, Jason Johnson makes the biggest jump in this poll’s history, moving from outside the Top 25 to where he now occupies the 6th spot in our rankings.
Also moving into the poll for the first time in over a month is the up-and-coming NASCAR star Kyle Larson. The California native raced he was out of the B-Main on Saturday to earn the 21st starting spot in the Feature. He was not done yet, as he raced up 16 positions to finish fifth and grab the hard charger award. Larson, who was unranked, now occupies the 14th spot in the Top 25 rankings.
Jamie Veal was another man on the move this week. Outside of Johnson’s upset performance, Veal may have been the most surprising front-runner of the Nationals. For that he has moved from 25th to 13th in the rankings. Veal’s runs of 5th in his preliminary, 5th in the World Challenge, and 6th in the 50 lap finale were among the best weeks of any driver.
Our panel of voting members for Week 12 included the following:
Blake Anderson, Mike Mallett, Brian Liskai, Bobby Gerould, Tony Bokhoven, Mike Leone, Kyle Symons, Anthony Corini and Tyler Beichner.
1. Donny Schatz, 200 points (8)
Recent Results: Stunned and upset at Knoxville, but rebounds with a win at McCool Junction.
Previous Ranking: 1st (NC)
2. Daryn Pittman, 180 points
Recent Results: Finished 4th in his preliminary and finale at Knoxville, as well as at McCool Junction.
Previous Ranking: 3rd (+1)
3. Shane Stewart, 175 points
Recent Results: Knoxville treats him well with a preliminary win and 3rd place finish in the 50-lapper.
Previous Ranking: 8th (+5)
4. David Gravel, 167 points
Recent Results: Barely able to crack the top 10 at Knoxville but finishes runner-up at McCool Junction.
Previous Ranking: 2nd (-2)
5. Greg Hodnett, 158 points
Recent Results: Strong runs all week culminate in an 8th place finish in the 50 lap Knoxville finale.
Previous Ranking: 5th (NC)
6. Jason Johnson, 148 points
Recent Results: The most surprising Knoxville winner in recent memory, he collected the $150,000 check.
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
7. Chad Kemenah, 131 points
Recent Results: His consistent season continued with runs of 3rd & 7th at the Knoxville Nationals.
Previous Ranking: 13th (+6)
8. Kerry Madsen, 127 points
Recent Results: A 4th place finish in his prelim but only mustered a 22nd place finish in the Knoxville finale.
Previous Ranking: 11th (+3)
9. Brad Sweet, 126 points
Recent Results: Hovered around 10th all week at Knoxville, but got back to the podium at McCool Junction.
Previous Ranking: 4th (-5)
9. Dale Blaney, 126 points
Recent Results: A 5th on his preliminary night precedes a 23rd place run in the 50 lap finale.
Previous Ranking: 6th (-3)
11. Danny Lasoski, 121 points
Recent Results: Knoxville’s all-time wins leader managed a 13th place run at the Nationals.
Previous Ranking: 12th (+1)
12. Rico Abreu, 118 points
Recent Results: Won the Friday portion of Nationals, giving himself the opportunity to run 12th in the finale.
Previous Ranking: 15th (+3)
13. Jamie Veal, 90 points
Recent Results: Claimed finishes of 5th & 6th at Knoxville; also ran 5th in the World Challenge.
Previous Ranking: 25th (+12)
14. Kyle Larson, 71 points
Recent Results: Transferring from the B-Main, he was the hard charger with a 5th place Nationals run.
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
15. Ian Madsen, 70 points
Recent Results: Finished 2nd in the World Challenge before finishing 9th in the 50-lapper.
Previous Ranking: 19th (+4)
16. Joey Saldana, 67 points
Recent Results: Has had a rough past two weeks that included failing to qualify for the Knoxville Nationals.
Previous Ranking: 10th (-6)
17. Sheldon Haudenschild, 66 points
Recent Results: Failed to qualify for the 50 lap finale at Knoxville.
Previous Ranking: 7th (-10)
18. Sammy Swindell, 56 points
Recent Results: One of the favorites to contend at Knoxville, he wound up 18th in the final rundown.
Previous Ranking: 16th (-2)
19. Tim Kaeding, 55 points
Recent Results: Won his preliminary night and went on to plae 14th in the 50-lapper.
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
20. Craig Dollansky, 45 points
Recent Results: One of the strong runners every week, he disappoints with a 24th place finish.
Previous Ranking: 16th (-4)
20. Lance Dewease, 45 points
Recent Results: Did not make any starts over the past week.
Previous Ranking: 9th (-11)
22. Terry McCarl, 40 points
Recent Results: A 3rd place run in his preliminary was the highlight of his Knoxville Nationals.
Previous Ranking: 23rd (+1)
23. Brian Brown, 30 points
Recent Results: Had a miserable weekend at Knoxville that he’ll hope to soon forget.
Previous Ranking: 18th (-5)
24. Stevie Smith, 28 points
Recent Results: Failed to qualify for the A-Main on both his preliminary night and the finale.
Previous Ranking: 20th (-4)
25. Mark Dobmeier, 26 points
Recent Results: Couldn’t quite crack the starting field at the Knoxville Nationals.
Previous Ranking: 14th (-11)
Dropped Out of Rankings
Kyle Hirst (21), Danny Dietrich (22), and Parker Price-Miller (24)