KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Sept. 12) — Overtaking Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, at the halfway mark, Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., scored his first career Knoxville Raceway victory in Thursday’s opening round of the 16th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.
Rolling off from the seventh starting spot, Clanton pulled ahead of Erb out of turn two to assume the point on lap 14 of 25. Stretching his lead in late-race lapped traffic, Clanton earned a $7,000 payday in his fourth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory.
“Our car’s been real good all night long,” Clanton, who clocked the night’s overall fast time, said in victory lane. “We made the right adjustments there. I was biding my time behind (Tyler Erb). I thought he was hurting his tires a little bit. I could see him hazing tires across the middle and I said, ‘Just bide your time.’ We starting cutting across the middle and our car was stuck. I pulled up beside him and it was all she wrote.”
Polesitter Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., edged ahead of fellow front-row starter Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, at the line to lead the opening lap, with Moran shooting back ahead down the backstretch to lead the second circuit. It was a three-car battle at the front of the field through the early running, with fourth-starting Erb challenging the race leaders.
The race’s lone caution falling on the fourth lap, Erb used the restart to his advantage, sliding to second in turns one and two and then past Moran out of turn four to lead the fifth lap. As Clanton overtook second-running Moran, the top-two cars began distancing themselves from the field, the Georgia veteran running a close second to the race leader.
Clanton and Erb raced side-by-side at the line on lap 13, with Clanton powering ahead down the backstretch to lead the following circuit. Pulling away in the final laps as he navigated lapped traffic, the former World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion captured his seventh victory of the 2019 season.
“This is a dream come true,” Clanton said of his Knoxville triumph. “That’s all I read my whole race career is (sprint car standout) Donny Schatz here at Knoxville. I’d like to start a legacy and win everything here (too).”
After leading laps five-13, Erb finished runner-up, with Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., besting Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, by mere inches to run third. Weiss was scored fourth, with Thornton rounding out the top five.
“The last 10-15 laps, (Clanton) just had a better car,” Erb said. “He could maneuver through there a lot better than I could. My car felt really good. It’s just the same kind of issue we’ve been having. The longer we go, the tires start getting hot. I don’t know if it’s me or what we’re doing. But we’re going to work on it. … I’m just excited to get a good run. It should put us in the race Saturday.”
Lanigan, a former Knoxville Nationals champion, said he would of liked for the race to have had just a few more laps. Finding a line that worked well for his No. 29, he was on the move late-race, edging out Weiss at the checkered flag.
“It got pretty good right in there through the middle to the bottom,” Lanigan said. “I would have liked to have seen a late-race charge. But all in all, we had a good points night. We’ve got a good hot rod for Saturday, so we’ll see what we’ve got.”
Notes: Clanton notched his fourth career Lucas Oil Series victory, his last coming on Oct. 10, 2010, at Rome (Ga.) Speedway. … The victory marked his first since a July 30 World of Outlaws triumph at Shawano (Wis.) Speedway. … The lone yellow flag waved on lap four when Jonathan Davenport slipped over the berm in turn two, slowing with heavy front-end damage to his No. 49 machine.
Thursday points totals
1. Shane Clanton 494
2. Darrell Lanigan 486
3. Ricky Thornton Jr. 482
4. Tyler Erb 474
5. Ricky Weiss 472
6. Chris Simpson 468
7. Tyler Bruening 461
8. Earl Pearson Jr. 461
9. Brandon Sheppard 460
10. Devin Moran 460
11. Bobby Pierce 458
12. Jimmy Owens 458
13. Stormy Scott 456
14. Shanon Buckingham 456
15. Kyle Bronson 450
16. Frank Heckenast Jr. 447
17. Chad Simpson 446
18. Josh Richards 444
19. Dennis Erb Jr. 443
20. Jonathan Davenport 439
21. Shannon Babb 434
22. Billy Moyer Jr. 432
23. Brian Birkhofer 429
24. Hudson O'Neal 429
25. Don O'Neal 423
26. Jeremiah Hurst 421
27. Chris Madden 417
28. Johnny Scott 415
29. Jimmy Mars 411
30. Mike Mataragas 407
31. Dave Eckrich 393
32. Jeremy Grady 390
33. Spencer Diercks 389
34. Jake Neal 385
35. Brent Larson 380
36. Charlie McKenna 378
37. Brian Harris 377
38. Scott Bloomquist 375
39. Jason Feger 374
40. Cody Laney 373
41. Corey Zeitner 370
42. Chase Junghans 370
43. Tim McCreadie 370
44. Chad White 369
45. Nick Marolf 366
46. Dustin Nobbe 366
47. Billy Moyer 363
48. Mike Fryer 361
49. Tim Simpson 358
50. Jonathan Brauns 356
51. J.C. Wyman 355
52. Reid Millard 352
53. David Webster 351
54. Junior Coover 342
55. Jared Landers 333
Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Devin Moran
Row 2: Chris Simpson, Tyler Erb
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Ricky Weiss
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Jonathan Davenport
Row 5: Shanon Buckingham, Tyler Bruening
Row 6: Bobby Pierce, Brandon Sheppard
Row 7: Frank Heckenast Jr., Shannon Babb
Row 8: Brian Birkhofer, Josh Richards
Row 9: Jeremiah Hurst, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 10: Stormy Scott, Jimmy Owens
Row 11: Earl Pearson Jr., Chad Simpson
Row 12: Billy Moyer Jr., Kyle Bronson
Jared Landers scratched from Thursday’s program after suffering a burned piston in hot laps. He’s undecided if he’ll swap engines and continue racing the rest of the weekend. … Tim McCreadie also scratched from Thursday’s program after suffering engine problems. His team is changing engines for Friday’s show. … Scott Bloomquist failed to time trial because of electrical problems. He finished fifth in a consolation. … After leading early in his heat race, Chase Junghans was forced to retire early and scratch for the night with transmission problems.
Polesitter Jimmy Owens took an early lead, with father and son Don and Hudson O’Neal racing door-to-door for third on the second lap. H. O’Neal began closing in on second-running Chad Simpson at the halfway mark, as Owens worked through lapped traffic. The O’Neal duo battled again on the ninth lap, with H. O’Neal maintaining the advantage over his father. Charging the high side, Kyle Bronson overtook H. O’Neal on the 12th lap, the frontrunners working their way through the rear of the field. Owens won the heat, with Simpson and Bronson grabbing transfer spots.
Finish (top three transfer): Jimmy Owens, Chad Simpson, Kyle Bronson, Hudson O’Neal, Don O’Neal, Chris Madden, Johnny Scott, Brent Larson, Jeremy Grady, Nick Marolf, Jonathan Brauns, Mike Fryer, Chad White, David Webster, Billy Moyer, Junior Coover. Scratched: Tim McCreadie.
Poleistter Stormy Scott stretched his lead in the early running, with fifth-starting Jimmy Mars closing in on second-running Earl Pearson Jr. by the fourth lap. Pearson fought back challenges from Mars, with Billy Moyer Jr. joining the battle for second at the halfway mark. Moyer overtook Mars from third on the eighth lap, with Scott extending his lead to almost a full straightway. Unchallenged, Scott won the consolation with Pearson and Moyer rounding out the podium.
Finish (top three transfer): Stormy Scott, Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer Jr., Jimmy Mars, Scott Bloomquist, Mike Mataragas, Spencer Diercks, Charlie McKenns, Jason Feger, Corey Zeitner, Cody Laney, Dave Eckrich, J.C. Wyman, Reid Millard, Jake Neal, Dustin Nobbe. Scratched: Tim Simpson, Chase Junghans, Jared Landers.
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Stormy Scott
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Mike Mataragas
Row 3: Dave Eckrich, Jimmy Mars
Row 4: Spencer Diercks, Charlie McKenna
Row 5: Scott Bloomquist, Jason Feger
Row 6: Corey Zeitner, Dustin Nobbe
Row 7: Cody Laney, J.C. Wyman
Row 8: Jake Neal, Reid Millard
Row 9: Tim Simpson, Chase Junghans
Row 10: Jared Landers
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Chad Simpson
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Hudson O’Neal
Row 3: Johnny Scott, Don O’Neal
Row 4: Chris Madden, Chad White
Row 5: Billy Moyer, Jeremy Grady
Row 6: Brent Larson, Nick Marolf
Row 7: Brian Harris, Mike Fryer
Row 8: David Webster, Jonathan Brauns
Row 9: Junior Coover, Tim McCreadie
Polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. edged ahead of fellow front-row starter Brandon Sheppard at the line to lead the opening lap, with Sheppard assuming the point on the second circuit. It was a tight battle for third in the early running, with Kyle Bronson challenging Ricky Weiss for position. Rolling around the high side, Weiss closed in on second-running Erb at the halfway mark, with Sheppard holding a commanding lead. Erb and Weiss raced side-by-side out of turn four on he ninth lap, with Erb holding the advantage at the line. Sheppard won the heat, with Erb fending off Weiss to finish second.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Weiss, Don O’Neal, Kyle Bronson, Chad White, Nick Marolf, David Webster. Scratched: Tim McCreadie.
Rolling around the high side, second-starting Tyler Bruening shot ahead of fellow front-row starter Josh Richards out of turn two to take an early lead. Devin Moran and Chris Madden raced door-to-door for third through the opening laps, with Moran holding the advantage. The top two cars distanced themselves from the field at the halfway mark, as Richards began reeling in Bruening. The pair raced side-by-side down the backstretch, with Richards sliding ahead in turn four to assume the point on the ninth lap. Stretching his lead late race, Richards won the heat, with Bruening running second. Moran edged out Madden to finish third and transfer to the feature.
Finish (top three transfer): Josh Richards, Tyler Bruening, Devin Moran, Chris Madden, Chad Simpson, Johnny Scott, Brent Larson, Mike Fryer, Junior Coover.
Polesitter Shannon Babb took an early lead, with a three-car battle for second ensuing in the opening laps between Tyler Erb, Jeremy Grady and Hudson O’Neal. Erb held the advantage, with O’Neal edging ahead at the line to take third on the fourth lap. O’Neal overtook Erb for second on the following circuit, setting his sights on Babb. Jonathan Davenport joined the battle up front at the halfway mark, with O’Neal and Erb racing side-by-side for second on lap seven. Davenport overtook O’Neal for third on the following circuit, with Babb continuing to show the way out front. Babb cruised to a heat race win, with Davenport overtaking Erb in the final turn on the final lap to run second. Erb grabbed the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Shannon Babb, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Hudson O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Billy Moyer, Jeremy Grady, Brian Harris Jonathan Brauns.
With polesitter Dustin Nobbe slipping over the berm in turn two, fellow front-row starter Frank Heckenast Jr. and third-starting Chase Junghans shot ahead, Heckenast taking an early lead. The pair raced side-by-side down the backstretch, with Junghans pulling ahead out of turn four to lead the third lap. A yellow flag waved on the third circuit when Nobbe spun in turn one. Junghans held his lead on the restart, with fifth-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. overtaking second-running Heckenast. Junghans slowed off the pace in turn one on the fifth lap, retiring and relinquishing the lead to Thornton. Unchallenged late-race, Thornton won the heat, with Heckenast finishing second and sixth-starting Darrell Lanigan taking the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Ricky Thornton Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Darrell Langain, Spencer Diercks, Charlie McKenna, Scott Bloomquist, Dustin Nobbe, Jake Neal, Chase Junghans.
Polesitter Jeremiah Hurst took an early lead, as Bobby Pierce and Billy Moyer Jr. raced door-to-door for second in the opening laps. As Earl Pearson Jr. attempted to rally from the sixth starting spot, Hurst continued to hold a comfortable lead at the halfway point. Piece began closing in on Hurst late-race, with fifth-running Pearson losing ground when he slipped over the berm in turns one and two. It was a tight race for the final transfer spot in the final laps, with Chris Simpson nosing ahead of Moyer at the line to take third on the 10th circuit. Overtaking Hurst in the final turn, Pierce won the heat, with Simpson running third to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top three transfer): Bobby Pierce, Jeremiah Hurst, Chris Simpson, Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer Jr., Dave Eckrich, Corey Zeitner, J.C. Wyman, Tim Simpson.
Polesitter Brian Birkhofer shot to the lead at the drop of the green flag, with fourth-starting Shanon Buckingham slipping past Jimmy Mars out of turn two to take the second-place spot. Powering ahead of Birkhofer down the backstretch, Buckingham pulled ahead of Birkhofer out of turn four to lead the second circuit. Shane Clanton was on the move early, advancing from six to fourth at the halfway mark. With Buckingham continuing to show the way out front, Birkhofer and Clanton began closing in on second-running Mars with just a few laps remaining in the distance. Birkhofer slid ahead of Mars in turns three and four to take second on the 11th lap, with Mars falling to Clanton in the following turn on the final lap. Stretching his lead late-race, Buckingham won the heat, with Birkhofer and Clanton grabbing transfer spots.
Finish (top three transfer): Shanon Buckingham, Brian Birkhofer, Shane Clanton, Jimmy Mars, Stormy Scott, Mike Mataragas, Jason Feger, Cody Laney, Reid Millard.
Heat race lineups
(12 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars
Row 2: Mike Mataragas, Shanon Buckingham
Row 3: Stormy Scott, Shane Clanton
Row 4: Cody Laney, Jason Feger
Row 5: Reid Millard, Jared Landers
Row 1: Jeremiah Hurst, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Dave Eckrich, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Chris Simpson, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 4: Tim Simpson, Corey Zeitner
Row 5: J.C. Wyman
Row 1: Dustin Nobbe, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Jake Neal
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Darrell Lanigan
Row 4: Spencer Diercks, Charlie McKenna
Row 5: Scott Bloomquist
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Jeremy Grady
Row 2: Tyler Erb, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Hudson O’Neal, Jimmy Owens
Row 4: Brian Harris, Billy Moyer
Row 5: Jonathan Brauns
Row 1: Josh Richards, Tyler Bruening
Row 2: Devin Moran, Chris Madden
Row 3: Johnny Scott, Chad Simpson
Row 4: Brent Larson, Mike Fryer
Row 5: Junior Coover
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Don O’Neal, Kyle Bronson
Row 4: Chad White, Nick Marolf
Row 5: David Webster
While weather forecasts showed a great likelihood of late-afternoon thunderstorms hitting Knoxville on Thursday, the chances decreased as the day wore on. Black skies around the track and increasingly windy conditions prompted many teams to keep covers on their cars, but rain continued to stay away from the speedway as cars were lining up for hot laps at 6:45 p.m. … Lucas Oil Series director Rick Schwallie said during the drivers meeting that officials would be in “rain mode” tonight and thus pushing the program along with rain still a threat. … Schwallie also said that two B-mains (rather than C- and B-mains) will be run during both of this year’s preliminary programs and the prelim heat race inversion will be six cars rather than eight as in recent years. … Drivers meeting attendees gave a round of applause to Doug Clark, whose 36-year run as Knoxville Raceway’s chief starter will end when he retires from the position after this weekend’s action. … The 55 cars signed in for competition is down just two entries from 2018. … Noticeably missing from the field for the second consecutive year is Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., the winner of back-to-back Knoxville Nationals in 2016-17. … Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who is still chasing his first-ever Knoxville Nationals triumph, is again running the Brewster Baker-inspired car he piloted to victory in last Saturday’s World 100. The one difference from the machine’s Eldora Speedway look is the addition of the Day-Glo orange spoiler that goes on the Lucas Oil Series points leader’s car. “‘Ol Brewster had an orange spoiler laying around,” Davenport quipped. … Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., has a new color scheme on his Black Diamond house car that shows more white along with red and blue accents. … Two-time Nationals winner Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, is making his first start in a brand-new XR1 Rocket car fielded by fellow Iowan Jason Rauen. … Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., is running as a teammate to Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., in a second SSI Motorsports car normally driven by Chad Stapleton. … Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., is behind the wheel of his older Pierce Race Car. … Californian Cody Laney is making his first appearance in Pete VanIderstine’s No. 32b Dirt Late Model since July’s Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb. The car has been housed since July in Iowa, where Laney has based his open-wheel modified racing for the past four months; he finished third in last weekend’s IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.
The 16th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals kicks off on Thursday with the first of two $7,000-to-win preliminary programs at the famed half-mile oval best known for hosting sprint car races.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who finished runner-up in last weekend’s World 100, is the defending Knoxville Nationals champion. Among other recent winners on hand this weekend are Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark. (2015), Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa (’14) and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. (’13).
Thursday’s program will include hot laps, time trials, heat races (with an six-car inversion), consolations and the 25-lap main event. Drivers will earn points based on their performances over the first two nights of action, which will set the lineups for Saturday’s consolations and the 100-lap finale.
Friday’s program will be identical to Thursday’s. Drivers will use their best points night — not combined points — to see where they stand for Saturday’s alphabet soup of features, which are topped by the $40,000-to-win main event. Twenty-four drivers will be locked directly into Saturday night’s headliner at the conclusion of Friday’s program, with the remainder positioned in Saturday’s C- and B-Mains. DirtonDirt.com is offering live coverage of Thursday and Friday's prelims.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 17.932
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 18.114
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 18.183
Stormy Scott (2), Las Cruces, N.M., 18.358
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 18.391
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 18.431
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 18.446
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 18.489
Jake Neal (14J), Omaha, Neb., 18.564
Mike Mataragas (1m), DeKalb, Ill., 18.564
Dave Eckrich (58), Oxford, Iowa, 18.565
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 18.583
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 18.597
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 18.608
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 18.626
Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 18.627
Jeremiah Hurst (58), Dubuque, Iowa, 18.730
Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 18.777
Cody Laney (32B), Torrance, Calif., 18.806
Tim Simpson (17), Iowa City, Iowa, 18.826
Spencer Diercks (29D), Davenport, Iowa, 18.959
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 18.960
Corey Zeitner (6z), Bellevue, Neb., 19.127
Charlie McKenna (22C), Clear Lake, Iowa, 19.353
Reid Millard (14R), Jefferson City, Mo., 19.481
J.C. Wyman (4W), Griswold, Iowa, 19.604
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., no time
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., no time
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 18.087
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 18.187
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 18.189
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 18.245
Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 18.282
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 18.338
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 18.378
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 18.379
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 18.392
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 18.448
Devin Moran (1), Dresden, Ohio, 18.483
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 18.493
Jeremy Grady (43), Story City, Iowa, 18.509
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 18.541
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 18.542
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 18.652
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 18.715
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 18.766
Brian Harris (99), Davenport, Iowa, 18.774
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 19.152
Chad White (20w), Saint Joseph, Mich., 19.184
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 19.197
Mike Fryer (54), Freeport, Ill., 19.278
Nick Marolf (33), Moscow, Iowa, 19.353
Jonathan Brauns (22B), Muscatine, Ill., 19.396
Junior Coover (10C), Norfolk, Neb., 20.241
David Webster (44w), Monroe, Wis., disqualified
6:15 p.m.: Drivers meeting
6:45 p.m.: Hot laps
7:30 p.m: Time trials
- Heat races (12 laps)
- B-mains (15 laps)
- Feature (25 laps)