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Danny Lasoski Notches #107 in Thrilling Knoxville Opener!

Danny Lasoski Notches #107 in Thrilling Knoxville Opener!

A beautiful spring Iowa evening welcomed the 2016 sprint car season at the Knoxville Raceway Saturday! Pella Motors Night saw action from beginning to end. At the conclusion of the night, Dover, Missouri’s Danny Lasoski was atop the podium in the 410 class. It was the “Dude’s” 107th career feature win at Knoxville aboard the Muddy.com #2, and the seventh time he has graced Victory Lane on opening night at the “Sprint Car Capital of the World”. Bryan Clauson registered his first career 360 sprint feature at Knoxville after winning Friday night without the wing in USAC competition in Bloomington, Indiana. Chris Walraven made some history of his own in the 305 class. He joined Clint Garner, Bronson Maeschen, Randy Smith and Tim St. Arnold as the only drivers to win in the 410, 360 and 305 classes.

The “Missing Man” formation honoring Bob Trostle, Lenard McCarl and others we’ve lost during the offseason preceded the main event. Before a lap could be completed, a jump by Ian Madsen triggered a chain reaction that saw Mike Reinke, Dustin Selvage and Dakota Hendrickson head to the work area. When the green flag fell again, it was Bryan Clauson leading Danny Lasoski and Davey Heskin early in the 20-lapper.

Austin McCarl was blowing heavy smoke and came to a stop in turn two with four laps complete. The oil leak was remedied and he returned to the fray. Clauson led Lasoski, Heskin, Wayne Johnson and Kerry Madsen back to green. Lasoski took advantage, using his patented low groove to gain the point. Meanwhile, Johnson shot by Heskin into third.

On lap nine, Kerry Madsen asserted himself, moving by Heskin and Johnson into third. Four laps later, Bronson Maeschen got over the treacherous turn three cushion, smacked the wall and retired. Mark Dobmeier spun to avoid the incident. The final restart saw Lasoski pull away, but there was plenty of action behind he and the second place car of Clauson.

Heskin, who restarted sixth, shot by Brian Brown and Johnson into fourth. He would pick off Madsen for third on lap seventeen, while Brown followed him into fourth a lap later. Brown and Heskin would battle to the checkers, with Brown earning the show position on the white flag lap. Lasoski, Clauson, Brown and Heskin were followed by Kerry Madsen, Wayne Johnson, hard-charger Tasker Phillips, Sammy Swindell, Tim Kaeding and Brooke Tatnell.

Kerry Madsen set quick time of the night, while Ian Madsen, Brown and Kaeding won heat races. Phillips won the B. Rookie Jake Bubak took a hard tumble in turn two during his heat race, but was uninjured.

“Thanks to everyone for coming out,” said Lasoski in Victory Lane. “This is the best opening night crowd I’ve seen in a long time. We really appreciate it. This race is for my beautiful mother-in-law in Florida. They are having a party for her. Wish I could be there, but glad they could watch me on TV. This is home for us. We just love coming here. This is our second home, and every race here is good practice for August.”

Clint Garner led the 18-lap 360 feature, shooting by Matt Moro on the first lap. Moro returned the favor the next couple of laps in an exciting battle. Garner gained the lead gain on lap four, while Clauson was moving into the top five after starting tenth. On lap six, Josh Baughman moved by Moro for second, but Clauson was on the move, shooting under both drivers on the next go-around to take over the runner-up spot.

With seven laps recorded, Kade Higday jumped the turn one cushion and turned over, bringing out the red flag. He was uninjured. The restart saw Garner pace Clauson, Baughman, Moro and Ryan Giles. Clauson stalked Garner for five more laps, taking the Matt Wood Racing #17w to the cushion. He would make his winning move on lap twelve, just before Brandon Hanks came to rest in turn two.

Clauson would not be denied the final six laps, winning over Garner, Baughman, Moro and Jamie Ball. Ryan Roberts, Matt Covington, Seth Bergman, Justin Henderson and Blake Hahn rounded out the top ten. Garner set quick time over the 33-car field and won his heat race. Randy Martin, Nate Van Haaften and Chris Martin won heats, while Hahn claimed the B main.

“I felt like when we got to clean air, I was good on the top,” said Clauson afterwards. “I was trying to mix it up a little bit. That way if he was right there with me I could keep him guessing. We spent all last year trying to get good in these things, and these guys work their butts off and make me look like I know what I’m doing out here. It’s pretty special to get a win here at Knoxville.”

Chris Walraven led all 15 laps of the 305 main event. Early it was McKenna Haase and Brad Comegys who gave chase. Devin Kline worked his way into the top three by lap five and passed Haase for second with two laps to go.

On the white flag lap, it looked like Kline had a shot at the leader in lapped traffic, but the caution came out for a stopped Mike Mayberry, setting up a green, white, checker finish. While Walraven pulled away to claim his win, Haase surged back by Kline to finish second. Christian Bowman was fourth ahead of Trevor Smith. Hard-charger Matthew Stelzer, Mitchell Alexander, Corey Kautz, Mike Houseman Jr. and Joe Simbro rounded out the top ten. Kline set quick time, while Alexander, Billy Bell and Walraven took heat races.

“This makes the long winter in Iowa worth it when you can win the season opener,” said Walraven. “This is awesome! I was in some serious lapped traffic for five or six laps there at the end. I kind of wanted to see the yellow. I thought I saw Devin poke his nose in there. When the yellow came out, I felt pretty good.”

Join us next week for week #2 of the Lucas Oil Knoxville Championship Cup Series! The first 300 fans will receive free trees courtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation! For more information on Knoxville Raceway, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com!

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