KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Nine-time Knoxville Nationals champion Donny Schatz has officially entered the 56th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores.
Schatz, driver of the No. 15 Bad Boy Buggies Tony Stewart Racing machine, has proven himself as the driver to beat going into the prestigious event year after year, scoring nine wins in the past 10 races with the 10th being a runner-up finish.
“This place has been very, very good to me,” Schatz said following his Xtream Shootout powered by Mediacom World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win at Knoxville Raceway in June.
That is an understatement.
Schatz, a former weekly competitor at Knoxville Raceway during his teenage years, studied the famed half-mile track for years and craved the coveted Nationals title. After finishing second four agonizing times, Schatz earned his first Knoxville Nationals win in 2006. Since then, he’s only “lost” once, in 2010 when he finished second for a fifth time.
Schatz, 38, has competed in 18 Saturday night Knoxville Nationals finale events, finishing in the top-10 an amazing 16 times. His six pole starting positions are second only to Steve Kinser with eight. He’s also closing in on “King” Kinser with 276 total laps led. (Kinser has led 301.)
In 2003, his performance stunned the crowd of nearly 21,000 people when he won the B-Main, started 23rd in the feature event and charged through the pack to earn the win and set a record as the winner who started deepest in the field.
“Only the guys that have won this race understand the mental side and how hard it is to actually win,” Schatz said via PennLive.com following his ninth 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores win in August 2015.
If Schatz takes the checkers again on Aug. 13 in his 23rd running of the event, he’ll be only the second driver, again behind Kinser, to be in the double-digit win category.
By his performance thus far this season, he’s on track to do so. The seven-time World of Outlaws champion has earned 12 Outlaw wins and leads the series standings by 95 points over Brad Sweet.
Other entries received thus far for the 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores include:
Justin Henderson of Sioux Falls, S.D., has qualified for four Knoxville Nationals finale events and finished a career-best third in 2013. He most recently qualified for Saturday’s feature event in 2014, when he finished fifth. Henderson will be racing in the No. 1 BDS Motorsports entry.
Danny Holtgraver of Pittsburgh, Penn., will drive the No. 70 Premier Motorsports car. Holtgraver has competed in four Knoxville Nationals events, but has yet to make the Saturday finale.
Wayne Johnson of Oklahoma City, Okla, finished 24th in the 2015 Knoxville Nationals. The driver of the No. 2c has qualified for seven Nationals finales, with a career-best finish of eighth in 2006.
Ian Madsen, driver of the No. 18 KCP Racing entry, from St. Marys, New South Wales, Australia. Madsen posted a career-best 18th-place finish in the 2012 Knoxville Nationals. Madsen was the 2014 Knoxville Raceway track champion, and joined his brother, Kerry, in becoming the first brother duo to do so.
Dominic Scelzi of Fresno, Calif., will be making his debut in the 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s General Stores. Scelzi, the son of four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi, finished seventh in the June 4 event at Knoxville Raceway earlier this year.
CREDIT: Spire Sports + Ent. for Knoxville Raceway