KNOXVILLE – Russ Hall picked up his first ever Pro Sprint Series presented by Pace Performance win at the Knoxville Raceway Saturday night. The native of Pleasant Hill, held off the charge of veteran Chris Walraven to take the win aboard the Skillz Motorsports No. 29.
The Knoxville Raceway could not hold off the charge of Mother Nature, however. Despite hard work all day by track crews and a quick program underway, persistent rain fell just after 8:30 p.m. bringing a halt to the action as the 360 sprint feature was ready to take the green.
Track officials will discuss the make-up of both the 360 and 410 features.
Rookie Mike Johnston was the early leader in the 15-lap Pro Sprints feature. Second row starter Russ Hall trailed him, but took the lead coming to the completion of lap two. Chris Walraven made a move by Jeff Wilke on the same circuit to take third.
On lap four, Walraven took the high side around Johnston for second and set his sights on the leader.
The last half of the race saw Walraven all over Hall for the lead. On lap 11, he was just one-tenth of a second behind, and on the white flag lap was just ninety-five thousands of a second in arears. Hall hit his marks on the low sides of turns two and four to carry his mount to the win
Following Hall across the line were Walraven, Johnston, Matthew Stelzer and Devin Wignall. Chase Young, Mike Mayberry, Jeff Wilke, Brandon Worthington and Evan Epperson rounded out the top ten.
Walraven set quick time, while Johnston and Mayberry were heat winners.
“We put on junk tires to start with,” said Hall in Victory Lane. “We had a hard time finding a used one in the pits. It’s good to be back in Victory Lane (Hall has three career 360 wins). I’m glad to be racing! I’m excited! We had a good race there with Walraven. I heard him there the whole time. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I had a hard time getting off the corner.”
Odds and Ends
Lynton Jeffrey set his first quick time of the season in the 410 class, while Tasker Phillips, Sawyer Phillips and Josh Schneiderman won heat races.
Carson McCarl set quick time in the 360 class and won a heat, while Tasker Phillips and Josh Higday took the others.
Saturday, June 29, will be an open date at Knoxville Raceway as the AGCO Jackson Nationals commence at Jackson Motorplex that weekend.
The next action at the track will be the inaugural BRANDT Professional Agriculture Corn Belt Nationals featuring the USAC National Sprint Cars and the POWRi WAR Sprints Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6.
A main, 15 Laps, 5:00.1: 1. Russ Hall (3); 2. Chris Walraven (4); 3. Mike Johnston (1); 4. Matthew Stelzer (10); 5. Devin Wignall (8); 6. Chase Young (14); 7. Mike Mayberry (6); 8. Jeff Wilke (2); 9. Brandon Worthington (5); 10. Evan Epperson (9); 11. Mike Ayers (7); 12. Tyler Barrick (11); 13. Matt Johnson (13); 14. Adam Mason (12). Lap Leaders: Johnston 1, Hall 2-15. Hard-charger: Young.