KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Tyler Erb took the lead early and drove to his second career win at the Knoxville Raceway in Thursday’s opening night of the 17th Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals presented by BRANDT Professional Agriculture.
The New Waverly, Texas, driver was paid $7,000 for his win.
Ricky Weiss, who became the first Canadian late model winner at Knoxville two years ago, led lap one of the 25-lap main event ahead of Erb, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Bruening and Tim McCreadie.
Erb shot to the point on lap two and rode the low side of the half-mile out front. McCreadie would move by Bruening on lap eight for fourth, and Kyle Larson would follow into the top five on lap 13.
The leaders hit lapped traffic on the fourteenth circuit. Two laps later, Davenport found his way by Weiss for second. At that point, Chris Simpson slowed, bringing a caution. Erb led Davenport, Weiss, McCreadie and Larson back to green.
Larson shot by McCreadie for fourth on the cushion before Mike Marlar stopped and exited with six laps to go. Erb continued to lead after the restart over Davenport, while Larson worked his way by Weiss for the third spot.
A final restart occurred after Hudson O’Neal and Logan Martin contacted hard in turn four with two to go, bringing out the red flag. Both drivers were uninjured.
Erb cruised the final two laps to win over Davenport, Larson, Weiss and Kyle Strickler. McCreadie, Earl Pearson Jr., Bruening, Chad Simpson and Brandon Sheppard rounded out the top ten. Strickler and Larson set quick time in their respective groups, while Chase Junghans, McCreadie, Weiss, Erb, O’Neal and Josh Richards won heat races. Ricky Thornton Jr. and Shane Clanton claimed the B mains.
“Three years ago, I won my first National race here,” said Erb in Victory Lane. “To win tonight again is awesome. Racing is so up and down. (Davenport and Larson) are at the top of their game. What a lot of people don’t see from the outside, is this day and age, if your car is bad, you’re bad. We’ve been working to make our car better. They are two of the best drivers right now in their craft, and it feels good to beat them.”
Larson was the high point man on the night, but will leave town for his NASCAR obligations and will not compete in the remainder of the weekend. Erb, McCreadie, Strickler and Weiss followed him in points. Drivers will use their top point night between Thursday and Friday to set up Saturday’s lineup.
“I was really good in the mid-portions of that,” said Larson. “I started catching some lapped traffic and then the caution came out. I think we needed to stay green and we would have had a better shot. I just struggled on the restarts in these things, and it takes me a couple laps to get my momentum up. After a couple laps, we were able to get going. I just made some mistakes on the cushion and that cost me some time. I’m just happy I got to run at least one night. It was cool to run something completely different here.”
1. Tyler Erb (2); 2. Jonathan Davenport (4); 3. Kyle Larson (8); 4. Ricky Weiss (1); 5. Kyle Strickler (7); 6. Tim McCreadie (5); 7. Earl Pearson Jr. (6); 8. Tyler Bruening (3); 9. Chad Simpson (11); 10. Brandon Sheppard (13); 11. Frank Heckenast Jr. (12); 12. Kyle Bronson (21); 13. Josh Richards (16); 14. Chase Junghans (15); 15. Shane Clanton (20); 16. Spencer Hughes (10); 17. Ricky Thornton Jr. (19); 18. Tony Jackson Jr. (14); 19. Tad Pospisil (23); 20. Garrett Alberson (17); 21. Hudson O’Neal (18); 22. Logan Martin (22); 23. Mike Marlar (9); 24. Chris Simpson (24).