KNOXVILLE – The 29th Annual MyPlace Hotels Knoxville 360 Nationals presented by Great Southern Bank will go down in history as one to remember! Australia’s James McFadden won a battle with Brian Brown that saw five lead changes to cash in on the $15,000 top prize. His win also earned him Rookie of the Year honors and a bonus $500 from sponsors Jetco and Pace Performance. In support action, Evan Epperson won his second career feature with the Pro Sprints presented by Pace Performance.
The 25-lap main event saw McFadden leading Brown, Joey Saldana, Wayne Johnson and Aaron Reutzel early. The only caution of the race occurred two laps in, when Scott Bogucki performed a 360 spin and tapped the wall. He restarted at the tail.
While McFadden was true to the low groove early, Brown stormed the high side into the lead on lap three. Undeterred, the Warrnambool, Victoria resident steamed back by to the point to lead lap four. Meanwhile, Johnson passed Saldana for the third spot.
A great battle ensued for the lead and Brown made another charge to lead lap seven. He changed to McFadden’s low groove, but James went up top at that point and shot back around the No. 21 to lead for good on lap eight.
The leaders hit lapped traffic at the halfway point. Brown reeled in McFadden at a couple of points in the late stages, but never mounted a serious threat for the win.
McFadden’s win came ahead of Brown, Johnson, Reutzel and Saldana. Davey Heskin, Cory Eliason, Thomas Kennedy, Dusty Zomer and Matt Juhl rounded out the top ten.
In preliminary action, Robbie Price won the E, and climbed to 17th in the C.
Spencer Bayston won the D main, while Jack Dover took the C.
Gio Scelzi claimed the B. A couple of scary crashes in the B involved Clint Garner, and then Devon Dobie. Both drivers walked away.
Matt Juhl was presented $360 from Kone Korner for the Best Appearing Car of the weekend, while Trey Starks received $100 from Pace Performance for the first non-qualifier.
“I’m over the moon!” said McFadden in Victory Lane beside the Kasey Kahne Racing #9M. “I have to thank Mike Heffner for loaning us the motor for the weekend. Obviously, this thing ripped. That was a hard race. It felt like 40 laps, not 25!”
He added, “I’m just pumped! I was watching the big screen. I knew (Brown) was going to run the top. The bottom was fast…I just kept missing it a little bit, and that was enough for him to get next to us. I decided to pound the top and it worked out.”
“I’m just so proud of my team,” said Brown, whose team had to leave the track and replace their engine after not getting hot laps in. “Races are won, and teams are made over adversity. We went 25 laps as hard as we could go, and got beat. Hat’s off to James. He moved when he saw me there, and he did a good job.”
“This car was good,” said Johnson. “I just wish we’d have started a little closer to those guys, but halfway through the race, I felt I was picking up on them really good. I started getting closer, and I started driving it harder. I just started making mistakes. Once I calmed down, it was too late. Knoxville is an awesome place.”
Matt Johnston led the 15-lap Pro Sprints presented by Pace Performance main event early on ahead of Matthew Stelzer and Chris Walraven. Evan Epperson moved into the top five by lap three, and took fourth from Jeff Wilke on lap five.
Devin Wignall came to a stop six laps in for the only caution of the race.
Johnston led Stelzer, Walraven, Epperson and Wilke back to green. Brandon Worthington joined the top five on lap eight.
At the halfway point, Epperson caught fire, gaining third from Walraven and then jumping two more spots to lead lap ten.
Stelzer and Walraven were left to battle for the runner-up spot behind him. Worthington also found late speed, gaining third at the white flag lap, and then shooting by Walraven for second on the last lap.
Epperson’s second career win here came ahead of Worthington, Walraven, Stelzer and Chase Young. Johnston, Russ Hall, Wignall, Matthew Johnson and Wilke rounded out the top ten.
Walraven posted quick time, while Hall and Tyler Barrick won the heats.
“It was a risky move,” said Epperson of his winning maneuver on lap ten. “I thought it would work out. We bolted a new tire on before the races, and it held together. We had a really bad start. As soon as I moved the wing back, the car was a rocket ship. It’s been a long year and a half since my last win, but this one’s even sweeter.”
360 Nationals Results
C main, 12 Laps, 3:34.8: 1. 53D, Jack Dover, Springfield, NE (1); 2. J2, John Carney II, El Paso, TX (6); 3. 11, Roger Crockett, Broken Arrow, OK (3); 4. 41s, Dominic Scelzi, Fresno, CA (7) / 5. 3P, Sawyer Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (2); 6. 17wx, Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA (4); 7. 47x, Dylan Westbrook, Scotland, ONT, Can. (8); 8. 11x, Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN (12); 9. 55, McKenna Haase, Des Moines, IA (10); 10. Ricky Montgomery (19); 11. 18, Ryan Roberts, Aurora, NE (11); 12. Rusty Hickman (21); 13. Spencer Bayston (18); 14. 77x, Alex Hill, Six Nations, ONT, Can. (17); 15. Willie Croft (20); 16. Tasker Phillips (22); 17. Robbie Price (24); 18. 22K, Kaleb Johnson, Sioux Falls, SD (5); 19. Matt Covington (23); 20. 1K, Kelby Watt, Adel, IA (13); 21. 76, Brad Comegys, Bondurant, IA (9); 22. 88, Scottie McDonald, Porter, TX (14); 23. 2m, Matt Moro, Polk City, IA (15); 24. 35L, Cody Ledger, Omaha, NE (16) DNS – 20, AJ Moeller, Rockwell City, IA; 5J, Jamie Ball, Knoxville, IA; 5G, Curt Michael, Ocean View, DE
B main, 15 Laps, NT: 1. 41s, Gio Scelzi, Fresno, CA (5); 2. 17A, Austin McCarl, Altoona, IA (1); 3. 33m, Mason Daniel, Springville, CA (8); 4. 28, Scott Bogucki, McLaren Vale, SA, Aust. (3) / 5. 44s, Trey Starks, Puyallup, WA (4); 6. 4, Jon Agan, Knoxville, IA (7); 7. 2KS, Jason Solwold, Burlington, WA (13); 8. Dominic Scelzi (24); 9. 52, Blake Hahn, Sapulpa, OK (9); 10. 99, Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK (17); 11. Jack Dover (21); 12. 3, Ayrton Gennetten, Gravois Mills, MO (11); 13. 83, Rob Kubli, Milo, IA (15); 14. 17, Josh Baughman, Odessa, TX (12); 15. John Carney II (22); 16. 44, Chris Martin, Ankeny, IA (10); 17. 75AU, Kyle Bellm, Nixa, MO (20); 18. 1, Travis Rilat, Heath, TX (18); 19. 94, Jeff Swindell, Bartlett, TN (16); 20. 15, Christian Bowman, Bondurant, IA (19); 21. 70, Calvin Landis, Knoxville, IA (2); 22. Roger Crockett (23); 23. 23D, Devon Dobie, Wapakoneta, OH (14); 24. 40, Clint Garner, Sioux Falls, SD (6)
A main, 25 Laps, NT: 1. 9M, James McFadden, Warrnambool, VIC, Aust. (1); 2. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO (3); 3. 2c, Wayne Johnson, Tuttle, OK (7); 4. 87, Aaron Reutzel, Clute, TX (6); 5. 12N, Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, IN (2); 6. 56N, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (11); 7. 26, Cory Eliason, Visalia, CA (13); 8. 21K, Thomas Kennedy, Winnipeg, MB, Can. (9); 9. 5, Dusty Zomer, Sioux Falls, SD (5); 10. 09, Matt Juhl, Tea, SD (19); 11. Gio Scelzi (21); 12. Austin McCarl (22); 13. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX (8); 14. 14, Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN (4); 15. 5H, Colby Copeland, Roseville, CA (12); 16. Mason Daniel (23); 17. 9, Ryan Giles, Grimes, IA (10); 18. 4x, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA (17); 19. 71P, Parker Price-Miller, Kokomo, IN (14); 20. 83H, Justin Henderson, Tea, SD (16); 21. 27, Carson McCarl, Altoona, IA (18); 22. 17w, Harli White, Lindsay, OK (15); 23. Scott Bogucki (24); 24. 4J, Lee Grosz, Harwood, ND (20). Lap Leaders: McFadden 1-2, Brown 3, McFadden 4-6, B
Spencer Bayston won the D-Feature and Robbie Price the E-Feature.