Over 23,000 fans packed the stands at the Knoxville Raceway Saturday night, all hoping to see something spectacular, and many hoping to see an underdog win the 50th annual Knoxville Nationals, and they got just that as Tim Shaffer passed four time defending champion Donny Schatz to take the white flag and held on to win his first ever Knoxville Nationals.
For the first time ever, the historic race was 50 laps in honor of the 50th anniversary and featured a five minute pit stop for all cars at lap 25 allowing teams to make any changes they needed to their cars in preparation for the final 25 laps.
Sammy Swindell had the dominant car leading 46 of the first 47 laps and looked to be on his way to his first Nationals win since 1983, but he would blow a right rear tire with just over two laps remaining and finish 19th. That gave the lead to Schatz with three laps remaining but Schatz had late race motor issues allowing Shaffer to challenge for the lead and eventually take the lead coming out of turn four to take the white flag. Schatz would finish second followed by 360 Nationals champ Shane Stewart, Craig Dollansky charged from 24th starting position to finish fourth and Kerry Madsen completed the top five.
Six Knoxville regulars made the 24 car field including Brian Brown who started on the pole and was running third with six laps to go when he had a tire go down and finished 14th. Davey Heskin was the highest finishing Knoxville driver in eighth, Josh Schneiderman finished 13th in his first ever Nationals A main, Dusty Zomer was 16th, Erin Crocker finished 18th, Lynton Jeffery was 21st and Skip Jackson was 23rd. World of Outlaw point leader Joey Saldana blew a motor early and exited after lap eight to finish 24th and Steve Kinser also lost a motor on lap 31 and finished 22nd. There will be no races this weekend at Knoxville Raceway and the season will resume with two final points races August 28th and the season championship September 4th.