KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Less than 96 hours ago, Kerry Madsen was running down Donny Schatz and Jason Johnson in an effort to win the 5-hour Energy Knoxville Nationals.
Now, the personable Australian is rideless in the States and expected to head back ‘Down Under’ to continue his sprint car tenure.
Crew chief Tyler Swank first confirmed to PennLive on Wednesday that Keneric Racing, the team Madsen has driven for stateside since it opened its U.S. arm in 2010, is closing their Knoxville, Iowa-based shop and shutting down their American operations, effective immediately.
Prior to the official word, multiple sources had confirmed to Race Chaser Online Tuesday night that the closure occurred Sunday following the conclusion of the Knoxville Nationals.
“The American branch of Keneric is no longer in existence,” Swank said. “Basically, myself, Kerry and Bob Curtis have been terminated.”
“Am I surprised? No. But (about the fact) that it happened so soon, yes. All I’m going to say is that all good things come to an end (eventually).”
Madsen was running third behind Johnson and Schatz on Saturday during the 50-lap Knoxville Nationals A-Main, closing in on a potential first-career win in the prestigious event behind the wheel of a special No. 1 Australian-painted machine, before a mechanical failure with four laps to go ended his shot at becoming the first Aussie to ever win the Nationals.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Madsen said following the feature on Saturday. “We were so good all week, and we were fighting with Jason (Johnson) and Donny (Schatz) when something went south and knocked us out of the race on lap 47.”
“We were all gutted. We have been so close at the Nationals the last few years, and we had a great opportunity on Saturday night. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. I hate it for everyone involved in this team. I have to thank my guys for working so hard and getting us a fast car, the Gavranich family for giving us the tools to be a contender, as well as all of our partners for their support to this team.”
Keneric Racing had its most prolific season two years ago, when Madsen won both the $50,000 Kings Royal at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and the Ironman 55 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway in Pevely, Mo. in the same year. He parlayed the momentum from those two finishes to record a career-best finish of fourth in points with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.
Last season, Madsen finished fifth in points with the Outlaws before deciding to take the 2016 campaign off from full-time competition with the national touring series and running a true ‘outlaw’ schedule. He swept the #LetsRaceTwo weekend with the Outlaws at Eldora in May and also had three National Sprint League victories to his credit as well this year.
Madsen, the reigning Australian national sprint car champion, relocated to Knoxville when Keneric launched their U.S. arm in 2010 and is expected to continue driving for the team in Australia, where they will continue operating according to multiple reports.
Attempts to reach Madsen for comment were respectfully declined at the time of publication.