KNOXVILLE, Iowa — A nine-time Knoxville Nationals winner and one of the hottest drivers in motorsports headline the list of entries for BRANDT Professional Agriculture Qualifying Night on Wednesday at Knoxville Raceway.
The preliminary program officially marks the opening of the 57th annual 5-Hour Energy Knoxville Nationals.
Donny Schatz, who has won nine of the last 11 Nationals championship features and boasts 15 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series wins this season, will pilot the No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance entry for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing.
Schatz is seeking to become the second driver in history to reach the double-digit threshold and reclaim his throne after being stopped by Jason Johnson in last year’s event. The eight-time Outlaws champion is a 25-time winner at Knoxville in 410ci sprint car competition, most recently in June during the Brownell’s Big Guns Bash.
The other wild card and most-notable name scheduled to compete Wednesday night is Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Kyle Larson, who will seek to qualify for his fourth-career Nationals A-Main.
Just as he did a year ago, Larson will pilot Paul Silva’s No. 57 entry. The pairing went on an unbelievable run of six-straight sprint car feature wins earlier in the summer, including a World of Outlaws win, two All Star Circuit of Champions wins and three Pennsylvania 410ci Speedweek wins.
However, Larson is reportedly not expected to return for Saturday night’s A-Main due to his NASCAR duties at Michigan Int’l Speedway, even if he should qualify for the championship feature.
Four-time Knoxville Nationals champion Danny Lasoski is entered in the No. 1m, fresh off his recent induction into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame; as is Australian Kerry Madsen, who will pilot the No. 2M for Tod Quiring and Big Game Motorsports as he seeks his first Nationals title.
Among the other World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series regulars who will take to the track on night one are Logan Schuchart, driving for Shark Racing in the No. 1s; Shane Stewart, who is looking for his fourth-straight preliminary night win in Larson Marks Racing’s No. 2; Paul McMahan for Destiny Motorsports; Brad Sweet in the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 and Sheldon Haudenschild in his family-owned No. 93.
Joey Saldana will drive Willie Kahne’s No. 51 as he makes a Nationals appearance following his parting with Stenhouse Jr.-Wood Racing earlier in the season, while Jac Haudenschild continues to pilot the SJW No. 17 as the team looks to make their first Knoxville Nationals.
Other notable names entered for the opening preliminary night are PA Posse members Lucas Wolfe, Greg Hodnett and Tim Shaffer; Indiana young gun Parker Price-Miller and last week’s 360 Nationals champion Clint Garner.
Rookies making their first-ever Knoxville Nationals appearances on Wednesday night are Carson Macedo, Sawyer Phillips, Jason Kendrick, Jake Bubak, Tyler Bear, Josh Walter, recent Belleville Midget Nationals winner Spencer Bayston and Chase Wanner.
Wednesday kicks off with the Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular at 1 p.m. local time, with grandstand gates for the Wednesday night program opening at 5:30.
For a full look at the Wednesday night preliminary entry list, advance to the next page…