KNOXVILLE, Iowa (May 8, 2020) – In one of the most unique nights in sprint car racing history, David Gravel outlasted Ian Madsen in a 30-lap slugfest at the Knoxville Raceway on Friday night.
With no fans admitted due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws Series put on a Pay Per View only event.
The surreal evening saw social distancing, the field limited to an invitation of 48 and current health guidelines enforced, but the action on the track was as thrilling as ever.
Daryn Pittman led the 30-lap main event early, ahead of Ian Madsen and Gravel.
Six laps in, seventh running Shane Golobic had contact with Donny Schatz, flattening his left rear tire and bringing the yellow flag.
Madsen was fast and closed on Pittman before taking the point on lap nine. Three laps later, Kerry Madsen suffered a flat tire of his own. When he slowed, Sheldon Haudenschild could not avoid him and made contact, tipping over. He was uninjured.
The restart saw Madsen leading Pittman, Logan Schuchart, Gravel and Lynton Jeffrey back to green. Gravel surged to third utilizing the low side of the speedway on the restart. Pittman reeled in Madsen, but Gravel was in tow as well, and took the runner-up spot from him on lap 16.
The Connecticut native continued his torrid pace and passed Madsen for the lead in turn two on lap 19, only to be blocked by a lapped car coming out of turn four. Madsen maintained his lead and staved another haymaker from Gravel two laps later, when another pass for the lead in turn two was thwarted.
Schuchart was gaining late as well, taking third from Pittman on lap 21. With four laps to go, Madsen jumped the turn four cushion, but kept his lead. On lap 29, he did the same, but was not as lucky.
Gravel pounced on the opportunity and led the final two laps for a $15,000 score and his seventh career win here aboard the Jason Johnson Racing #41.
Gravel led the top ten to the checkers ahead of Ian Madsen, Schuchart, Pittman, Cory Eliason, Donny Schatz, Jeffrey, Brian Brown, hard-charger Brad Sweet and Kyle Larson.
Aaron Reutzel set quick time in his group, but motor issues in his heat, sidelined him for the night. Gravel set quick time in the second group, and was a heat winner, along with Ian Madsen, Schuchart and Eliason.
Ian Madsen won the Dash, while Trey Starks claimed the C main and Sheldon Haudenschild won the B.
“We haven’t been in the racecar a lot, and Ian and I made a lot of mistakes,” said Gravel in Victory Lane. “I was glad it was a 30-lap race. If it was 25, I would have lost that one.”