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.
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 No. 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.”
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, Brown 7, McFadden 8-25.