A total of six Australian drivers are currently busy preparing for this weekend’s Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals at Knoxville Raceway, and we here at Totally Speedway have gone about to preview the chances of the half-a-dozen drivers that are hoping to make it back-to-back Australian Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals wins.
James McFadden (Vic)
It’s certainly been a horrifying preparation for McFadden’s Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals defence, as he is currently attempting to make it from Australia and to America in time to make it back-to-back Knoxville Nationals wins.
Despite not having raced a Sprintcar in nearly five months, due to the coronavirus lockdown around the world, we are confident that it won’t take long for the 31-year-old from Warrnambool in the south western region of Victoria to settle into his Kasey Kahne Racing ride.
A lack of recent track time might work against him during an event like the Knoxville Nationals, but with McFadden’s talent as a driver and him running with a world-class team in Kasey Kahne Racing, then we feel that it won’t prevent him from being right up there to make it two Knoxville 360 Sprintcars Nationals wins from as many attempts.
In the meantime, here’s to hoping that McFadden wins the race from Australia to America in time to defend his Knoxville Nationals crown.
Kerry Madsen (NSW)
In what is the first time in 15 years that he will be contesting the Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals, Madsen is heading into the 30th running of this event with his eyes fixed on the top prize.
With nearly three decades of experience around the Knoxville Raceway track, the Big Game Motorsports team driver is rated as one of the front-running favourites. A fortnight ago, he ran a 360 Sprintcar race meeting at Knoxville Raceway and ended up with a second-place finish behind Carson McCarl in the A main, which holds him in good stead heading into this weekend’s Knoxville Nationals.
Madsen’s previous four Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals attempts have seen him come away with a best finish of 10th – twice in 2000 and 2001.
Brooke Tatnell (NSW)
Tatnell has a total of a dozen Knoxville 360 Sprintcar National campaigns to his name and it’s no surprise that prior to last year’s success with fellow Australian James McFadden, he was the highest ever Australian finisher in the event.
Way back in 1998, Tatnell managed to qualify for the Knoxville Nationals deciding A main on pole position and went on to led the opening 14 laps of the 20-lap event, before being caught by Brent Antill and eventual winner Gary Wright and then going on to complete the podium in third place.
Since that outstanding 1998 performance, Tatnell ran fourth a decade later in 2008 and more recently finished seventh from the back of the field in 2011, followed by another come back from the back of the field drive in 2016 to run ninth and in 2018 qualified into the A main via the B main and went on to finish in 11th.
It’s been an interrupted run so far this year with a range of teams and only a handful of 360 Sprintcar race meetings, but we are confident that Tatnell can mix it with the front runners throughout what is going to be his 13th Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals attempt. Could it be a case of lucky 13 for Tatnell?
Ian Madsen (NSW)
Following last month’s shock departure from the KCP Racing team after seven years together, Madsen has landed on his feet and teamed up with legendary car owner Guy Forbrook. The pair have been running together for the past two weekends at Knoxville Raceway and came away with a pair of solid finishes well inside the top 10.
Madsen’s entry for this weekend’s Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals isn’t with the # 5 Guy Forbrook team but with the # 35 Main Motorsports team. In what will be his first outing with the Grass Valley, CA-based team, Madsen will be running their second car.
When it comes to his past four Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals attempts, Madsen has managed to qualify into the A main on three of those occasions: 21st (2006), 13th (2014) and fifth (2016).
Lynton Jeffrey (NSW)
With over 15 Knoxville Nationals (410 Sprintcars) attempts on his resume, this weekend will see Jeffrey contest the Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals for the very first time.
Jeffrey couldn’t have asked for better form to be carrying into the Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals, following last weekend’s Knoxville Raceway 360 Sprintcar A main triumph, which was his first in 360 Sprintcars at the famed track.
Although it’s difficult to see Jeffrey claim the victory this weekend, it’s certainly not out of the question as he has plenty of experience around the Knoxville Raceway track that has seen him claim a number of major wins, such as two World Challenge wins. However, a top-five result would be a more realistic expectation.
Scott Bogucki (SA)
Over the past two years, Bogucki has been enjoying career-best form over in America, and it’s this form that makes him one of this weekend’s Knoxville Nationals dark horses.
A Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals deciding A main starter in the last two years, if Bogucki can qualify within the first five rows, then there’s every chance that he can make a good fist of things and trouble the top-10 contenders.
Earlier this year, Bogucki claimed his maiden 360 Sprintcar A main win at Knoxville Raceway, which has been consolidated by two impressive top-10 finishes in the last two A mains at Knoxville Raceway over the past fortnight, and it’s these performances that has his confidence high heading into his fifth Knoxville 360 Sprintcar Nationals attempt.
2020 Knoxville Nationals Format
This year’s Knoxville Nationals encompasses a three-night format. With points meaning everything, and every wheel turned on the track meaning points, there is no time for a break.
Thursday and Friday Night
Order of Events: Hot laps, Qualifications, Last Chance Heats (if needed), 5 Heats, C feature, B feature, A feature.
Qualifications - 200 points are awarded for quick timer, 198 for second quick, 196 for third, etc.
Only the top 50 qualifiers make the heats, the rest are put in the last-chance heat races in which the first eight finishers will fill the back of that night's C feature (starting in the sixth row).
Last Chance Heats (for drivers out of the top 50 in Qual.) – 50 points awarded to the winner, 47 for 2nd, etc.
Heats - 100 points are awarded for the heat winner, points go down by three: 97, 94, 91, 88, etc.
Heats have an invert of six. Top four finishers go to A, next four to B, last two to C.
C feature – Top four finishers go to back of the B. Fifth place is worth 92 pts., 6th is 90, etc.
B feature – The top four finishers transfer to the tail of the A. The B awards 142 points for fifth, 140 for sixth and so on by twos.
A feature - The A feature points are the same as time trials: 200, 198, 196 etc. This explains how a driver cannot make the A, but if he timed well may have more points than someone who did make the A.
First tie breaker is finish position in respective main event. Next tie breaker is rank in time trial. Other tie breaking criteria may be implemented if needed.
A perfect score (quick time, heat win, feature win) is 500. Cars line up for Saturday's championship straight up by points earned on their qualifying night.
Saturday Events: E feature, D feature, C feature, B feature, Knoxville Nationals Championship feature.
With the exception of the B feature which takes the top four finishers to the tail of the Knoxville Nationals Championship, all other features transfer the top two finishers to the tail of the next event (if there are scratches, there may be more taken for a particular event).