KNOXVILLE, IA - Donny Schatz certainly has a knack for making things
exciting, and on Friday night, the crowd at the Mopar Parts Knoxville
Nationals went wild when he made the final corner pass to win the Kele World
"This is a race for the fans and I did everything I could to win it," said
Schatz, who drove his #15 ParkerStore J&J to victory from his 14th starting
position. "I wasn't sure we could get there about halfway through the race,
but I caught Brad Furr and he was running around the top. I had to get by
him, so I went to the bottom and got a great run and worked my way up there.
This is awesome."
In the early stages of the race it didn't look like a driver could run from
the back of the pack to win it as was the case for the past Kele World
Challenge races when Danny Lasoski came from 12th to first in 2000 and Schatz
from 14th to first last year. Polesitter Tommy Tarlton took the early lead
and was chased by Friday's Preliminary Feature winner, PJ Chesson.
Australian standout, Brooke Tatnell, joined the fight up front and after
Tarlton had mechanical problems, Chesson and Tatnell raced nose to tail for
the top spot. Schatz wasn't able to race by a large number of cars to start
the race, instead passing them one at a time. By lap 10, he was running sixth
and getting a great drive off the bottom as the final six laps unfolded. With
two laps to go, the Fargo, ND driver caught Tatnell and took second heading
down the backstretch.
Chesson appeared to be simply*** on in the latter stages and was forced
to fight off a slide job from Schatz on the white flag lap in turn four.
Schatz had one final lap to get the pass made and he set up Chesson going
into turn three. He dove low in his #15 and slid up in front of Chesson to
take the lead and raced down the frontstretch to the checkered flag.
"I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to do or not," continued Schatz,
who is now the 2-time defending champion of three international events: The
Warrnambool Classic, $50,000 Australian Summer Slam and the Kele World
Challenge. "This is a big deal for a lot of reasons, but this race is meant
to help make our sport grow. I get to race in great cars both in the US and
Australia, but racing like this is really a lot of fun. I hope I can come
back next year and defend my title."
Chesson held on for second ahead of Tatnell, Brent Antill, and 12th-starting
Brad Furr came rounded out the top five.
KELE WORLD CHALLENGE 16 Laps
1. Donny Schatz. 2. P.J. Chesson. 3. Brooke Tatnell. 4. Brent Antill. 5. Brad
Furr. 6. Lynton Jeffrey. 7. Jeff Shepard. 8. Tommy Tarlton. 9. Kerry Madsen.
10. Skip Jackson. 11. Ricky Logan. 12. Daryn Pittman. 13. Chad Kemenah. 14.
Toni Lutar. 15. Danny Smith. 16. Dave Murcott. 17. Peter Murphy.
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