KNOXVILLE, Iowa – David Gravel added his name to the history books at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway on Saturday night.
The Watertown, Connecticut native won the 59th annual Knoxville Nationals for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series in his first year with Jason Johnson Racing. And the pair did it in dominating fashion.
“It just feels amazing,” Gravel said. “I don’t know what else to say. It feels really surreal. It doesn’t feel real at all.”
They started off their week in Knoxville, Iowa by winning Knoxville’s Capitani Classic. Four days later, Gravel won his preliminary race for the Nationals – earning a second-place starting position for Saturday’s feature.
With the green flag in the air, polesitter Aaron Reutzel took the early lead, with Joey Saldana following to second while Gravel fell to third.
Exiting turn four Reutzel hit the inside berm, got out of shape and allowed Saldana to get a run on him from the high side. Saldana stuck to the cushion in turns one and turn two, finding enough grip and momentum to charge around Reutzel for the lead.
Reutzel and Saldana would battle back and forth for the top spot. Meanwhile, Gravel watched and waited. He knew there was plenty of time to make a move in the 50-lap feature.
“I didn’t get too excited,” Gravel said. “I knew if we fell back to fourth or fifth it would be kind of hard to battle back up there and contend for the win. Just kind of fell into third there.”
Once the lead was back in striking distance, Gravel pounced. Running the bottom, he drove past Saldana for second on lap 10 and then methodically inched his way to the leader. Three laps later, Gravel made a pass stick off turn four to take the lead. H would hold the point until a competition caution flew on lap 25.
“I just let the race come to me,” Gravel said. “Just, luckily, I was able to maintain third there early. I think that was huge and kind of see what lines worked where and what was the best place to be.”
On the restart, Gravel shot back to the lead and would hold the point the rest of the way en route to the victory.
“I’ve put myself in position a lot of times after prelim nights and never had anything to show for it,” Gravel said. “You know, my best finish is 10th. I feel like I’ve always been pretty good here, but no results Saturday night. Obviously, the JJR 41 gets around here good and it shows. It’s just a dream week. I’m numb right now. I don’t even know what is going on.”
Logan Schuchart finished in second, with Daryn Pittman in third, Tim Kaeding in fourth and Reutzel in fifth.
Brad Sweet, Sheldon Haudenschild, James McFadden, Donny Schatz and Gio Scelzi rounded out the top ten.
Up next the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will return to River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota on August 16. For more information, visit WorldofOutlaws.com.
WoO NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series
Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, IA
Knoxville Nationals – August 10, 2019
1. David Gravel
2. Logan Schuchart
3. Daryn Pittman
4. Tim Kaeding
5. Aaron Reutzel
6. Brad Sweet
7. Sheldon Haudenschild
8. James McFadden
9. Donny Schatz
10. Gio Scelzi
11. Kerry Madsen
12. Shane Stewart
13. Cory Eliason
14. Joey Saldana
15. Ian Madsen
16. Parker Price-Miller
17. Brent Marks
18. Matt Juhl
19. Trey Starks
20. Paul McMahan
21. Tim Shaffer
22. Rico Abreu
23. Lance Dewease
24. Dominic Scelzi