Ian Madsen Holds Them Off in Classic Knoxville Showdown!

Winners at Knoxville Saturday night, Clint Garner (360), Ian Madsen (410) and Ryan Leavitt (305) (Joanne Cram Photo)

Clint Garner Pounces in Traffic in 360’s, Ryan Leavitt Scores Emotional 305 Win

by Bill Wright

KNOXVILLE, Iowa (May 6, 2017) – Few tracks put on the thrilling action that the Knoxville Raceway produces week in and week out, but Saturday night’s 410 sprint feature on Budweiser Night was one to remember! St. Mary’s, New South Wales, Australia native Ian Madsen held off Brian Brown at the line to record his eighth career win here. The 360 main event was no less dramatic. Clint Garner shot by Ryan Roberts in heavy lapped traffic to record his 29th career win here. And last, but not least, rookie and third generation driver, Ryan Leavitt took home top honors in the 305 class.

Madsen led Lynton Jeffrey, Ohio visitor Chad Kemenah, Brooke Tatnell and his brother, Kerry Madsen, early in the 20-lap 410 main event. Only a lap was completed when Rager Phillips spun in turn two, bringing the caution flag. On the restart, Tatnell used the cushion to move into third, while Brian Brown jumped from eighth (where he started as high point man with an invert of the same number) to the top five.

With seven laps in, it looked like Terry McCarl’s night may be over when something went awry in the suspension and he slowed, but simultaneously, Tatnell slowed to a stop in turn four, bringing another yellow flag. McCarl made repairs and joined the tail, while Ian led the field back to green, ahead of Jeffrey, Kemenah, Brown and Tim Kaeding.

Kaeding showed his strength, getting under Brown for fourth, and then passing Kemenah for third on lap nine. Brown followed him into fourth a lap later, while the battle for the lead heated up. Caleb Helms spun in turn two at the halfway point, bringing the final caution of the race.

Jeffrey stormed by Madsen into the lead on the low side, and then set sail on the cushion. Madsen slid him on lap 13 in turn two, sending the leader over the cushion. Madsen drove away, while Kaeding, Brown and Kemenah picked off second, third and fourth. With two to go, Brown threaded the needle between a pair of lapped cars and shot around Kaeding.

Brown reeled in Madsen, who was in heavy lapped traffic on the last circuit. Madsen was able to hold out, winning by four-tenths of a second at the line. Kaeding was third, ahead of Kemenah and Mark Dobmeier. Jeffrey, Kerry Madsen, Austin McCarl, hard-charger Davey Heskin and Tasker Phillips rounded out the top ten. Brown set quick time on the night, while Kaeding, Dobmeier and AJ Moeller won heat races.

“The lapped cars were giving me some trouble the last couple of laps, so I knew someone would be there,” said Madsen in Victory Lane. “I just got lucky that they turned down and kind of blocked both of us. It was an awesome win and an awesome night of racing. Hats off to all my guys and everyone who helps out! Knoxville is such a challenging place, and any time you get on the track is beneficial.”

The 18-lap 360 feature saw Jamie Ball leading early over Ryan Roberts, Clint Garner, Ryan Giles and Canadian Thomas Kennedy. Giles and Kennedy were the show early on, as they exchanged the fourth position twice. On lap four, Roberts, who won Friday night at I-80 Speedway in his native Nebraska, took the lead from Ball. Garner followed him into second a lap later.

While Roberts pulled away a bit, Garner nearly spun in pursuit at the halfway point. Kennedy entered the top three on lap 11, but the race would be decided between Roberts and Garner. Garner moved within a “stone’s throw” of Roberts with three to go.

On the 16th lap, Roberts tried to split the lappers of Josh Riggins and Chris Morgan in turn three. The result saw him almost upset his sprinter, while Garner shot by on the low side into the lead. Both were by the finish line when Alan Zoutte came to a stop. Garner would pull away when the green fell again, and won ahead of Roberts, Ball, Kennedy and Calvin Landis. Giles, Matt Moro, Chris Martin, Devin Kline and Jon Agan completed the top ten. Nate Van Haaften laid down quick time, while Kennedy, Ball and Tyler Groenendyk won heat races. Feature hard-charger, Stacey Alexander, claimed the B.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to beat him,” said Garner of Roberts. “He just won last night and he is feeling pretty good about things. There was definitely good competition. We had Kennedy back there, and he’s been on a streak too. There’s a couple guys who have their confidence up right now. I can’t thank my guys and Parker engines enough. We had a sniglet before the heat race and had to start in the back of the heat race. These guys worked their butts off.”

The 305 feature took four tries to get things started. On the first attempt, Levi Michener, made heavy contact with the turn one wall, but was uninjured. Once things got underway, Ryan Leavitt took command in the 15-lapper over Tyler Glass and Chris Walraven. Walraven quickly moved into the runner-up spot, and the veteran would pursue the youngster the rest of the way.

The race would see three yellow flags. Five laps in, Brandon Worthington went up in smoke in turn four. Matt Stephenson used that restart to move into third. Nine laps in, Rob Kubli, got tangled and ended up in the frontstretch fence. He was uninjured. On the restart, Cody Ambers spun in turn one.

Leavitt led the final restart, ahead of Walraven, Stephenson, Eric Bridger and Corey Kautz. The popular young driver was steady the final six circuits and was welcomed heartily in Victory Lane by his crew. Both his father Eddie Jr., and grandfather and two-time Knoxville Nationals champion, Eddie Leavitt preceded him at this famous half-mile.

Walraven held on to second, ahead of Stephenson, Kevin Hetrick and Bridger. Kautz, Glass, Kade Higday, Kelby Watt and Brad Comegys rounded out the top ten. Bridger set quick time, while Stephenson, Worthington and Kubli won heats.

“Every time I saw those yellow flags, I let out a sigh,” said the young driver in Victory Lane. “I really wanted to keep those green flag runs going. This car was hooked up. The bottom was definitely the best. I could hook it up down there. If I got off the bottom a little bit, we’d start spinning our tires. I tell you what, this is an unbelievable feeling!”

Join us next Saturday night, May 13, for Hy-Vee Supermarkets Iowa vs. Iowa State Night featuring the 410, 360 and 305 sprint car classes! For more information, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com!

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Posted by on May 7 2017. Filed under Local News, Local Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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