Jeff Gordon pressured Axalta Racing to sponsor David Gravel for the 2019 NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals way back when the two met at the Chili Bowl early in the season.
On Saturday night, it came to fruition and paid off.
Gravel took the lead from Aaron Reutzel on Lap 14 and held off runs from a plethora of drivers to take the victory.
David Gravel wins 59th Knoxville Nationals in Axalta, JJR No. 41
“I feel like I’ve always been good here, but [never] got results on Saturday night,” Gravel said. “Obviously the JJR 41 gets around well here.”
Gravel’s win is his first Knoxville Nationals title and his third win at Knoxville this week after taking the Capitani Classic as well as his qualifying night feature on Thursday.
The battle for the lead started right off the bat. Reutzel led field to green, but was passed by Joey Saldana after the first lap.
Reutzel would get the lead back before a caution for Dominic Scelzi and remained there until Gravel passed him 10 laps later.
Gravel was first pressured by the charging No. 83 of Daryn Pittman. After starting 10th, Pittman was on a mission to drive to the front.
Pittman got around defending champion Brad Sweet late in the first portion of the race, and would work his way to the back of Reutzel’s car to finish the first half of the 50-lap event on third.
Coming out of the break, Pittman would get to second quickly, but Gravel made sure to keep room between him and the 83.
It looked like the results, at least for the top two, would hold steady until Logan Schuhart established himself.
Schuchart started 22nd and was in ninth at the halftime break. Over the final 25 laps, the No. 1S would go all the way to third before going by Pittman for second on the final lap.
“You’ve got to run second before you can win them,” Schuchart said after the race. “We came close with the two biggest races in sprint car racing. I’m excited to come back.”
If there had been just one more caution, it might have been his night, but with how fast Gravel was it’s hard to tell what would have went down.
Schuchart finished another Crown Jewel event in the second position, the same spot where he finished the Kings Royal. His Shark Racing team will still take home a sweet $75,000, though.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will return to the track on Friday night for the second leg of the Northern Tour at River Cities Speedway in North Dakota.
Knoxville Nationals A-Main Results
1. David Gravel
2. Logan Schuchart
3. Daryn Pittman
4. Tim Kaeding
5. Aaron Reutzel
6. Brad Sweet
7. Sheldon Haudenschild
8. James McFadden
9. Donny Schatz
10. Gio Scelzi
11. Kerry Madsen
12. Shane Stewart
13. Cory Eliason
14. Joey Saldana
15. Ian Madsen
16. Parker Price-Miller
17. Brent Marks
18. Matt Juhl
19. Trey Starks
20. Paul McMahan
21. Tim Shaffer
22. Rico Abreu
23. Lance Dewease
24. Dominic Scelzi