Dave McKnight’s car went off on the flatbed Saturday night, but was repaired in time for Sunday’s non-winged race. (Bob Clark photo)

Once the team made it back to the track just in time for the Classic, it was about 200 laps of hard-nosed racing and the hope of making it to the checkered flag.

But those hopes took a hit before the field had ever made it two corners past the green flag, with a six-car melee on the opening lap sweeping up McKnight as well as several others who started in the back half of the field.

Luckily though, McKnight’s car received minimal damage and he was able to be pushed back off, continuing on and drawing some hearty cheers from the assembled crowd.

From there, it was a race to survive and advance as high up the order as possible, which McKnight did as an unusually-high attrition rate sent car after car either into the pits or into the wall, ending their nights as he kept chugging along.

Though he found himself 17 laps down to the leaders by the time the checkers waved, McKnight had accomplished the mission he and his car owner had set out to do at the start of the week: they’d finished the Classic.

And not only that, they climbed all the way back from 27th (after their opening lap troubles) to 12th in the final rundown.

It’s not what they wanted as racers, but it was a job well done, nevertheless.

“”It just felt great to get through the night,” said McKnight, who added that he received some backlash from fans after Sunday night’s race for some of the incidents he was involved in during the weekend.

“We were (using) our fourth motor all weekend. After blowing three of them up this year, along with the crashes and mechanical failures we’ve had … it’s just disheartening when fans don’t realize how many hours, how many bodies and how many thousands of dollars it takes to get a car back together. After the crash, to put it back on the track in 20 hours … just so we could have one more car on the race track to keep car counts up for the biggest race of the year … it almost makes you want to pack it in and call it a day.”

In fact, McKnight admitted that calling time was an option he and Morton had discussed after the third engine failure of their season.

“(Calling it quits for the year) was a big consideration,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the support from Jim Butcher and a few others that helped us put another motor together, we probably would have called it a season.”

But they didn’t quit. They kept their feet on the gas pedal, and it paid off at the end of 200 laps on Sunday night.

No, it wasn’t a win, but it was a lesson in arguably the most important quality in racing: perseverance.

“For anybody that questions why we did what we did this week, let me put it this way,” said McKnight. “Winners are those who never quit.”

And by that definition, Dave McKnight was a winner Sunday night in the 61st annual Budweiser Int’l Classic.


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: editor@racechaseronline.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

Email Race Chaser Online: news@racechaseronline.com

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Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman, 24, is the founder and managing editor of 77 Sports Media and a major contributing writer for SPEED SPORT Magazine. He is studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. and also serves as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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