For the second week in a row, and under completely different qualifying procedures, Robby Wolfgang and Danny Lasoski started from the front row for the 20-lap main event with Lasoski, just as he did a week ago, bolting to the lead at the drop of the green. It didn't take long for the all-time winningest driver at the famed oval to open up a straightaway lead so fans diverted their attention back a ways to watch the quick progress of Davey Heskin. After starting on the inside of row four Heskin was on the fly and quickly moved toward the front taking over second just before the mid-race mark. With Lasoski momentarily slowed by heavy traffic, Heskin took huge slices out of the distance between the top two, but after the leader cleared that traffic and left it for Heskin to deal with it looked like the race was over.
It was ironic that Davey's brother Danny produced the break he was looking for when the left rear tire went down on the rookie-of-the-year contender's #6 and he backed into the turn one guardrail with seven-laps remaining. On the restart Davey made a run at Lasoski down the backstretch only to have the door closed on him entering turn three. The slight loss of momentum allowed Dusty Zomer to pull even with Heskin off of turn four and the battle for second was now every bit as tight as the war going on for fourth between Don Droud Jr. and Terry McCarl. As the two veterans made contact going down the back stretch Droud got sideways and shot up the track right in front of a fast closing Donny Schatz. A surprise entrant for the evening, Schatz had flown in just before showtime after being rained out at Ohio's Eldora Speedway to drive the Office Depot sponsored #14 normally wheeled by his boss Tony Stewart. The car had been parked in Newton this week after Stewart raced it Tuesday night in Salina, Oklahoma, but now they will have to do quite a bit of work on it before Tony can run it again. In an effort to miss Droud, Schatz veered right and caught the outside fencing sending the 14 into a couple of cartwheels before Donny climbed out uninjured.
Following the break the green flag waved again now with six laps remaining and it seemed as though the veteran Lasoski knew exactly where the youngster would try to make his move. Heskin was still strong, but he just couldn't mount a run like he did just before the red and, again, it looked like this one was over and it would be career win number 95 at Knoxville for "the Dude from Dover". After taking the white flag Heskin tried one more big charge into turn one, but when he bobbled a bit that allowed Zomer to go roaring by into second and as Lasoski entered turns three and four for the final time you could definitely see the lead shrinking as Zomer charged down the back straightaway. Coming off of turn four Lasoski slowed suddenly as his drive train blew apart and Zomer flat footed it off of turn four trying to get to the line first. In the old days of visual scoring it would have been nearly impossible to make a call that everybody would have agreed with, especially with one car coasting across the stripe at a much slower speed than the other. But in this new age of transponder scoring virtually the entire crowd watch the finish in amazement and then turned their heads to the left to look at the scoreboard in turns three and four to see the #91 of Dusty Zomer now listed at the top. The interval was announced as one one-hundredth of a second. Ol' Yogi confused the hell out of me with "when you come to a fork in the road, take it" cause I could never figure out if he was being philosophical or just building up his silverware collection in an unusual manner. But when it comes to "it's never over until it's over", this thrilling finish at Knoxville is proof positive..
Lasoski coasted around to the backstretch where he tumbled out of his car in obvious pain, but after limping it off for a couple of minutes he climbed back into his car and they pushed him to the scales where he officially claimed the runner-up finish. Heskin had to settle for third, while Droud prevailed over McCarl in the battle for fourth.
The main event for the 360's got off to a rough start when the fourth row tandem of Jon Agan and Jonathan Cornell made contact midway down the front stretch sending Agan for a tumble and putting Cornell crossways in front of the remaining twelve cars that started behind them. Fast qualifier Wayne Johnson and B-Main winner Jamie Ball also went for wing wasters in an incident that involved eight of the twenty starters. Fortunately all drivers walked away from their cars uninjured.
On the second try front row starters Larry Ball Jr. and Clint Garner raced the first lap wheel-to-wheel only to have Garner pull to the lead off turn four. With only thirteen cars left on the track there was very little lapped traffic for the defending champ to contend with and Garner cruised to victory in a seemingly comfortable fashion. Ball is returning to form quickly after sitting out for a couple of years and he was solid in second, second row starters Dave Hall and Nate VanHaaften finished third and fourth while B-Main winner Dennis Moore Jr. took fifth.
|Dusty Zomer - File photo by Barry Johnson (Find more of Barry's photos on the PositivelyRacing.com page on Facebook)|
|Clint Garner - File photo by Barry Johnson (Find more of Barry's photos on the PositivelyRacing.com page on Facebook)|