FARGO, N.D. (August 17, 2021) – The dust has settled on the highly anticipated 60th running of the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals. For the 18th time in the last 21 Nationals, Donny Schatz left Knoxville with a podium finish.
The week started off on Wednesday for Schatz’s qualifying night, where he accumulated the second-most points of the night by timing in sixth quick and racing to a third-place finish in the preliminary feature.
By the conclusion of Thursday’s program, Schatz was fifth overall in points putting him inside row three for the 50-lap A-main.
As the green flag flew on the $150,000-to-win feature, Schatz wasted no time moving to the front as he slid into second in the first two corners.
Schatz then went to work on pole sitter and leader Gio Scelzi with Kyle Larson in tow.
While battling lapped traffic, Schatz took the lead from Scelzi using the low side of turn two on lap 11. Hot on his heels, Larson followed Schatz into second.
Schatz held the point until lap 24 when Larson snuck around the Carquest / Ford Performance No. 15 the lap before the halfway break.
Larson pulled away as the race resumed and on each of the three subsequent restarts, but Schatz became a factor late in the race.
The racing surface rubbered up around the bottom groove, but Schatz had a considerably faster car than Larson with under five to go.
Schatz reeled in Larson with three to go, but couldn’t muster up the forward drive needed to make the pass outside of the rubber. Schatz mounted one last charge on the final lap, pulling alongside Larson in turn four, but came up two car lengths short of the win at the checkers.
“I ran him down, but I wasn’t going to go through him,” said Schatz as he recalled the final laps. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get underneath him. With three or four laps to go, I ran to the outside of him in turn three and it held, but I couldn’t get off the corner. I got to him again on the last lap and I just went for it. It got me all the way to the exit of the corner, but I just couldn’t get off the corner. I gave it the Hail Mary.
“It’s the best we could, there are no hanging our heads,” said Schatz. “Kyle is an extreme talent. We won’t see anything like him come along ever again.”
Schatz will return to action in his home state this weekend with the World of Outlaws. River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D. is up first on Friday with Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo on Saturday. On Sunday, the series heads to Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D.
Schatz is currently fourth in the standings, 258 points out of the lead.
Schatz and the entire Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing team would like to thank all of their great partners for their continued support!
2021 World of Outlaws Results:
Top Fives: 27
Top Tens: 39