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Kyle Larson finishes 2nd at Knoxville Nationals

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Kyle Larson finished second to Donny Schatz in Saturday night’s Knoxville Nationals sprint car race. Schatz, who drives for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, won the event for the 10th time. Only Steve Kinser has won the Knoxville Nationals more times at 12.

Larson qualified for Saturday night’s A-main – one of the premier events on the sprint car calendar – after winning his qualifying race Wednesday night. Larson’s status for Saturday was in question until Friday.

Larson’s agreement with car owner Chip Ganassi to run sprint car races prevents him from racing those cars a night before he is to be on track in his Monster Energy Cup car. Ganassi gave Larson permission to run the race. Larson also has a deal with Ganassi to run no more than 25 sprint car races a year.

“It’s … neat I got to race,” Larson said in the press conference after the race. “In the months leading up to this event, I planned on Wednesday night but figured I would have no shot at racing Saturday. If it wasn’t for Chip, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got to thank him a lot.

“I hope I can convince Chip to let me do this every year.”

Larson turns his focus on winning a Cup race at Michigan International Speedway for the third consecutive time. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:16 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN.

“Hopefully, he can go win Michigan,” Schatz said after the Knoxville Nationals.

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Kyle Larson gets permission to race in Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night

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The night before he tries to defend his first career win in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Larson will get the chance to win one of the biggest sprint car races of the year and his career.

Larson announced on Twitter he has received permission from Chip Ganassi Racing to compete in the main event of the 57th annual Knoxville Nationals in Iowa, which he said is the “Daytona 500 of sprint car racing.”

Larson won his A-Main race on Wednesday night, which qualified him for Saturday night’s race. It is the first time Larson has locked himself into the main event with a win. He will start ninth in the race.

“Winning the NASCAR championship this year is my main focus and my main goal but I’m also extremely happy that (owner) Chip (Ganassi) is allowing me to go back to Knoxville on Saturday and try to win a Knoxville Nationals championship as well,” Larson said. “To have the opportunity to go back and win that is very, very special to me. I can’t thank Chip enough for that.”

Ganassi himself also shared a video message on Twitter about the race.

“I’ve been hearing all of you the last few days, my phone and my Twitter account (are) blowing up,” Ganassi said. “I’ve been hearing all the comments. OK, OK, OK. We’re going to let him race at Knoxville!”

Larson said Friday at Michigan that he talked with to Ganassi about Knoxville on the way back from the reveal of Chevrolet’s 2018 Cup car.

“I didn’t know he was going to be in Detroit yesterday with us,” Larson said. “I rode back with him to the airport and we talked about it a little bit. He voiced his concerns about it, but I think more than me asking, I feel like Steve Lauletta (President, Chip Ganassi Racing) and John Olguin (Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications) at our race shop probably had the most impact probably on me being able to run, so, got to thank them, but ultimately, it’s all Chip’s decision. I know my fans really appreciate it. All my sprint car fans and NASCAR fans, so Chip is a hero today and this weekend.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is third in the Cup Series standings and has won the last two Michigan races.

One reason Larson had to get permission to compete in Saturday night’s race is Ganassi has contractually allowed him to compete in 25 sprint car races this year. Wednesday’s race was supposed to be the 24th race the year. Saturday’s race won’t count toward the 25-race cap.

Larson said the deal with Ganassi also restricted him from driving a sprint or midget car the night before a Cup race.

He’s made his limited races count, at one point winning six races in a row.

“I’ve never been this good in a sprint car in my career,” Larson told the the Des Moines Register Wednesday night.

The question of whether Ganassi would give the 25-year-old driver the chance to race Saturday night was immediately raised.

“I hope he understands how important this event is to me,” Larson told Speed Sport. “I’d love to race on Saturday. Obviously, I know the Cup stuff is the No. 1 priority throughout the year. But this is a big deal, and I feel really fast.

Sunday’s Cup race doesn’t start until 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

Rico Abreu earns way into Saturday night’s Knoxville Nationals feature

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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Rico Abreu won Friday’s prelim feature to earn a starting spot in Saturday night’s 56th annual Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.

It was his first feature win at the historic half mile track.

Full results of Friday’s racing:

Saturday night’s Knoxville Nationals feature has a NASCAR flavor to it.

Daryn Pittman, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, will start on the pole. Donny Schatz, who drives for Tony Stewart Racing, starts fifth. Brad Sweet, who drivers for Kahne’s team, starts seventh. Shane Stewart, who drives for the team co-owned by Kyle Larson and Justin Marks, starts eighth. Abreu will start 17th.

Larson is in the B feature. He starts third. The top four finishers from that 22-lap race advance to the Knoxville Nationals feature.

Kyle Larson finishes 14th in his prelim feature at Knoxville

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Kyle Larson finished 14th in Thursday night’s preliminary feature at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway and will have to transfer from the B feature Saturday night to race in the 56th annual Knoxville Nationals feature race.

Thursday night’s prelim feature was won by Tim Kaeding.

Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, posted the fastest time in qualifying, won the prelim B feature and finished eighth in the main feature. Former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney finished 13th in the B feature and did not advance to the 24-car main feature.

Full results from Thursday’s racing here. 

The main feature began with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pacing the field in Bryan Clauson’s sprint car, honoring his close friend who died Sunday from injuries suffered in a midget car crash at last weekend’s Belleville Nationals.

🙏🏼

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Team co-owned by Kyle Larson wins opening night feature at Knoxville Nationals

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Shane Stewart, who drives for Larson Marks Racing, the team co-owned by Kyle Larson and Justin Marks, won the 25-lap feature Wednesday in the opening night of the Knoxville Nationals.

Action continues Thursday at Knoxville Raceway with the 56th Knoxville Nationals being held Saturday night.

Wednesday’s win marked the third year in a row that Stewart has won a preliminary night feature at the Knoxville Nationals. Stewart won with a sprint car sponsored by the Jeff Gordon Foundation. Gordon was in attendance.

Donny Schatz, who has won nine of the past 10 Knoxville Nationals and drives for Tony Stewart Racing, finished second in the feature race. Daryn Pittman, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, was fourth. Rico Abreu, who competes in the Camping World Truck Series, placed ninth in the 24-car field. Abreu won his heat race earlier in the evening.

Full results from Wednesday’s action is here.

Thursday’s schedule includes Larson competing, along with Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne’s team, and former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney. Also, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will pace the field in Bryan Clauson’s car, honoring his close friend who died Sunday from injuries suffered in a midget race last weekend.