KNOXVILLE — As the sun set over turns three and four on a beautiful Saturday night, the roars of the engines returned, the smell of gas and grilled hotdogs was in the air and the faithful racing fans were back in the grandstands, albeit abiding by social distancing guidelines, as racing had made it triumphant return to Knoxville Raceway for the Pella Motors/Kraig Ford 67th Season Opener.

Eager race fans filled the front-stretch bleachers, sitting only in even-numbered rows to comply with social distancing guidelines. Anyone entering the infield, which was off-limit to fans, needed to sign a COVID-19 waiver and take a temperature test. Masks were optional and were few and far between on the night.

Besides those restrictions, it seemed like a normal night of racing. Opening night featured a total of 77 drivers in the 410, 360 and Pro Series sprint cars.

Ironically before the start of the A Mains, the crowd joined together for a sing-along to “Sweet Caroline.” In a world dominated by social distancing, the booming choir of the lyrics “touching me, touching you” rang a little different.

The Pro Series kicked off the A Mains as Russ Hall would pace the field in the 15-lap feature. Tyler Barrick and Matt Johnson would get tangled six laps in, sending Barrick upside down on the front stretch. He would walk away okay.

Stelzer would slide in front of Hall on the restart but would quickly reseed the lead back to Hall on the following lap as the number 29 machine would pull away for good despite another restart with three to go.

“I forgot where I was for a second (on the restart that Stelzer took the lead),” said Hall. “We were better on the second. Tonight has been great. I want to thank the fans for coming out. Please go out and support your small businesses, especially the ones that support racing.”

Jon Agan would dominate early on in the 18-lap 360 feature. Agan was well out in front, working his way through lap traffic when Rob Kubli would get spun around between turns one and two. Agan would try to avoid Kubli’s car on the high side but would end up getting into the wall, prematurely ending the Knoxville native’s strong night.

Carson McCarl would inherit the lead and would navigate the rest of the way as Clint Garner looked to be gaining with three laps to go before McCarl would finish strong and secure his third career victory at Knoxville.

“Jon was really tough out there,” said McCarl. “I got him on that first restart. On the next one, his car took off really well, and got the jump. We probably needed traffic to beat him. They tilled up the top before the feature and it really helped. That was the right call. It got really tricky on both ends. I figured if I was having trouble with it, Garner was too. I just tried to hit my marks and do the best I can.”

The night was capped off with a little bit of history in the 410 A Main. Brian Brown dominated the 20-lap feature, earning $4,000 and picking up his 50th career win at Knoxville Raceway. The win ties Brown for fifth on the all-time wins list with Sammy Swindell.

Brown jumped out in front early and was able to ride the high side and navigate through lapped traffic for the wire-to-wire victory.

For the Grain Valley, Missouri native who came to these races as a kid, this was a dream come true for someone didn’t even dream it as a possibility.

“This week has probably been the most down I’ve been as a race car driver,” said Brown in victory lane. “The last two weeks have been pretty bad. One thing that’s never changed is the attitude of my guys. They don’t let me get down. I think that’s what this sport is about. You don’t get down, and you look forward to your next one. I never dreamed as a kid, sitting in section G, row 20 with my Grandma Barbara that I would ever win one race, let alone 50. It means a lot.”

Although it was only for one night. The racing world made things seem at least a little normal as we try to get through this pandemic.

The big boys come to town on Friday and Saturday with the World of Outlaws returning to Knoxville Raceway for the Brownell’s Big Guns Bash.

410 Results

Time Trials (Qualifying Order), 2 laps: 1. 24, Rico Abreu, St. Helena, CA (1), 16.161; 2. 17W, Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA (6), 16.247; 3. 7BC, Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN (2), 16.262; 4. 17A, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA (7), 16.278; 5. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO (23), 16.307; 6. 20, AJ Moeller, Rockwell City, IA (15), 16.390; 7. 09, Matt Juhl, Tea, SD (26), 16.402; 8. 39M, Anthony Macri, Dillsburg, PA (27), 16.412; 9. 4, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA (25), 16.448; 10. 16, Brooke Tatnell, Sans Souci, NSW, Aust. (30), 16.456; 11. 49, Josh Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA (17), 16.495; 12. 44S, Trey Starks, Puyallup, WA (8), 16.510; 13. 27, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Paola, KS (3), 16.539; 14. 83, Lynton Jeffrey, Sydney, NSW, Aust. (16), 16.561; 15. 44, Chris Martin, Ankeny, IA (22), 16.562; 16. 55, Hunter Schuerenberg, Sikeston, MO (11), 16.563; 17. 2KS, Chad Boespflug, Hanford, CA (4), 16.581; 18. 7TAZ, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (32), 16.673; 19. 56N, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (13), 16.678; 20. 3, Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH (21), 16.696; 21. 18, Ryan Roberts, Aurora, NE (12), 16.719; 22. 9W, Ryan Giles, Grimes, IA (20), 16.738; 23. 3X, Ayrton Gennetten, Versailles, MO (5), 16.775; 24. 7, Justin Henderson, Tea, SD (28), 16.784; 25. 3P, Sawyer Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (14), 16.810; 26. 35, Skylar Prochaska, Lakefield, MN (19), 16.995; 27. 55M, McKenna Haase, Des Moines, IA (29), 17.185; 28. 56, Joe Simbro, Pleasantville, IA (10), 17.187; 29. 15, Bobby Mincer, Burlington, IA (24), 17.241; 30. 50, Mike Ayers, Waukee, IA (18), 18.505; 31. 14K, Tori Knutson, Monticello, MN (31), 20.593; 32. DQ (Illegal Tire) 6, Frank Rodgers III, Lucas, IA (9).

Heat one (started), 8 Laps, 2:23.6: 1. Brian Brown (5); 2. Rico Abreu (6); 3. Terry McCarl (4); 4. Sawyer Phillips (7); 5. Ryan Roberts (1); 6. Chad Boespflug (2); 7. Bobby Mincer (8); 8. Tucker Klaasmeyer (3)

Heat two (started), 8 Laps, 2:24.0: 1. Ryan Giles (1); 2. Lynton Jeffrey (3); 3. Tasker Phillips (2); 4. Shane Golobic (6); 5. Brooke Tatnell (4); 6. AJ Moeller (5); 7. Skylar Prochaska (7); 8. Mike Ayers (8)

Heat three (started), 8 Laps, 2:26.8: 1. Davey Heskin (2); 2. Ayrton Gennetten (1); 3. Tyler Courtney (6); 4. Matt Juhl (5); 5. Josh Schneiderman (4); 6. Chris Martin (3); 7. McKenna Haase (7); 8. Tori Knutson (8)

Heat four (started), 8 Laps, 2:22.1: 1. Justin Henderson (1); 2. Anthony Macri (5); 3. Austin McCarl (6); 4. Jac Haudenschild (2); 5. Trey Starks (4); 6. Joe Simbro (7); 7. Frank Rodgers III (8); 8. Hunter Schuerenberg (3)

B main (started), 12 Laps, 3:53.5: 1. Sawyer Phillips (5); 2. Chad Boespflug (3); 3. Hunter Schuerenberg (2); 4. Ryan Roberts (4) / 5. Bobby Mincer (9); 6. Tucker Klaasmeyer (1); 7. Joe Simbro (8); 8. McKenna Haase (7); 9. Skylar Prochaska (6); 10. Mike Ayers (10); 11. Tori Knutson (11) DNS – Frank Rodgers III

A main (started), 20 Laps, NT: 1. Brian Brown (2); 2. Rico Abreu (1); 3. Tyler Courtney (3); 4. Davey Heskin (12); 5. Lynton Jeffrey (10); 6. Anthony Macri (6); 7. Austin McCarl (5); 8. Brooke Tatnell (11); 9. Matt Juhl (7); 10. Trey Starks (15); 11. Justin Henderson (17); 12. AJ Moeller (9); 13. Josh Schneiderman (13); 14. Jac Haudenschild (19); 15. Tasker Phillips (16); 16. Shane Golobic (4); 17. Hunter Schuerenberg (23); 18. Ryan Giles (14); 19. Terry McCarl (8); 20. Chad Boespflug (22); 21. Sawyer Phillips (21); 22. Chris Martin (20); 23. Ryan Roberts (24); 24. Ayrton Gennetten (18). Lap Leader: Brown 1-20. Hard-charger: Heskin.

360 Results

Time Trials (Qualifying Order), 2 laps: 1. 5J, Jamie Ball, Knoxville, IA (4), 17.005; 2. 83, Rob Kubli, Milo, IA (3), 17.065; 3. 2M, Matt Moro, Polk City, IA (5), 17.097; 4. 6R, Ryan Bunton, Morton, IL (10), 17.153; 5. 27, Carson McCarl, Altoona, IA (24), 17.190; 6. 40, Clint Garner, Sioux Falls, SD (22), 17.215; 7. 70, Calvin Landis, Knoxville, IA (11), 17.241; 8. 53, Joe Beaver, Knoxville, IA (8), 17.256; 9. 15, Christian Bowman, Altoona, IA (21), 17.301; 10. 88, Kyle Offill, Tracy, CA (9), 17.307; 11. 35, Josh Higday, Des Moines, IA (13), 17.310; 12. 1K, Kelby Watt, Adel, IA (1), 17.339; 13. 64, Jon Agan, Knoxville, IA (6), 17.356; 14. 4J, Lee Grosz, Harwood, ND (14), 17.362; 15. 66, Ricky Montgomery, Denver, CO (29), 17.380; 16. 81A, Chris Morgan, Topeka, KS (18), 17.414; 17. 22K, Kaleb Johnson, Sioux Falls, SD (19), 17.425; 18. 37H, Matthew Howard, Lawrence, KS (12), 17.488; 19. 22, Ryan Leavitt, Knoxville, IA (27), 17.522; 20. 8L, Tom Lenz, Marion, IA (28), 17.526; 21. 81E, Eric Bridger, Winterset, IA (17), 17.637; 22. 76, Brad Comegys, Bondurant, IA (25), 17.832; 23. 24N, Nathan Mills, Bondurant, IA (30), 17.972; 24. 13MJ, Brandon Halverson, Jackson, MN (26), 18.143; 25. 22X, Riley Goodno, Knoxville, IA (15), 18.207; 26. 33, Alan Zoutte, Knoxville, IA (16), 18.230; 27. 41D, Dan Henning, Columbia, IA (2), 18.335; 28. 11B, Ben Woods, Newton, IA (20), 18.465; 29. B29, Eric Mason, Knoxville, IA (23), 19.240; 30. 1A, John Anderson, Des Moines, IA (7), 20.707.

Heat one (started), 7 Laps, 2:07.3: 1. Jon Agan (2); 2. Chris Morgan (1); 3. Ryan Leavitt (7); 4. Kyle Offill (3); 5. Jamie Ball (6); 6. Calvin Landis (4); 7. Brad Comegys (8); 8. Riley Goodno (9); 9. Ben Woods (10); 10. Ryan Bunton (5)

Heat two (started), 7 Laps, 2:09.2: 1. Lee Grosz (2); 2. Kaleb Johnson (1); 3. Josh Higday (3); 4. Carson McCarl (5); 5. Rob Kubli (6); 6. Tom Lenz (7); 7. Nathan Mills (8); 8. Joe Beaver (4); 9. Alan Zoutte (9); 10. Eric Mason (10)

Heat three (started), 7 Laps, 2:09.2: 1. Matthew Howard (1); 2. Ricky Montgomery (2); 3. Clint Garner (5); 4. Kelby Watt (3); 5. Matt Moro (6); 6. Christian Bowman (4); 7. Eric Bridger (7); 8. Dan Henning (9); 9. Brandon Halverson (8); 10. John Anderson (10)

B main (started), 10 Laps, 2:39.5: 1. Nathan Mills (2); 2. Brad Comegys (1); 3. Riley Goodno (4); 4. Brandon Halverson (3) / 5. Alan Zoutte (5); 6. Ben Woods (7); 7. Dan Henning (6); 8. Eric Mason (8) DNS – John Anderson, Ryan Bunton

A main (started), 18 Laps, NT: 1. Carson McCarl (2); 2. Clint Garner (3); 3. Jamie Ball (6); 4. Joe Beaver (17); 5. Matt Moro (4); 6. Kyle Offill (10); 7. Calvin Landis (9); 8. Lee Grosz (7); 9. Matthew Howard (12); 10. Chris Morgan (13); 11. Josh Higday (8); 12. Kaleb Johnson (16); 13. Ryan Leavitt (18); 14. Christian Bowman (14); 15. Brad Comegys (22); 16. Eric Bridger (20); 17. Brandon Halverson (24); 18. Riley Goodno (23); 19. Jon Agan (1); 20. Rob Kubli (5); 21. Kelby Watt (15); 22. Ricky Montgomery (11); 23. Nathan Mills (21); 24. Tom Lenz (19). Lap Leaders: Agan 1-8, C. McCarl 9-18. Hard-charger: Beaver.

Pro Series Results

Heat one (started), 6 Laps, 1:54.5: 1. Russ Hall (2); 2. Mike Mayberry (1); 3. Chris Walraven (3); 4. Devin Wignall (6); 5. Chase Young (5); 6. Joel Thorpe (4); 7. Matt Allen (7); 8. Jaslyn Jones (8)

Heat two (started), 6 Laps, 1:53.8: 1. Matthew Stelzer (2); 2. Evan Epperson (3); 3. Jeff Wilke (4); 4. Mike Johnston (1); 5. Brandon Worthington (6); 6. Matthew Johnson (5); 7. Tyler Barrick (7)

A main (started), 15 Laps, NT: 1. Russ Hall (1); 2. Chase Young (8); 3. Matthew Stelzer (2); 4. Brandon Worthington (9); 5. Jeff Wilke (6); 6. Devin Wignall (4); 7. Chris Walraven (7); 8. Mike Johnston (10); 9. Mike Mayberry (5); 10. Joel Thorpe (11); 11. Evan Epperson (3); 12. Matt Allen (14); 13. Jaslyn Jones (15); 14. Matthew Johnson (12); 15. Tyler Barrick (13). Lap Leader: Hall 1-6, Stelzer 7, Hall 8-15. Hard-charger: Young.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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