Jake Swanson (21AZ) wins the Avanti Corn Belt Clash at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, featuring the USAC AMSOILINC National Sprint Cars
Jake Swanson takes the checkered flag last year at Iowa's Knoxville Raceway. (Ray Hague photo)

Knoxville Is Next For USAC Sprint Cars

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Winning a USAC national sprint car race at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway is reserved for greatness.

Gary Bettenhausen, Dick Tobias, Sammy Sessions, Tom Bigelow, Sheldon Kinser and Sammy Swindell have all won here and are enshrined in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, which overlooks turn two of the famed half-mile.

In recent years, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney have added wins of their own, and someday, their names will most definitely be called upon as an inductee to the Hall of Fame.

Drivers make their name at this place. Always have and always will. After all, a place christened as The Sprint Car Capital of the World has that type of presence.

An opportunity awaits this weekend’s crop of USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship talents who’ll face two full programs on Friday-Saturday, May 31-June 1, at Knoxville during the Avanti Windows & Doors Corn Belt Clash.

One year ago, Jake Swanson made the most of his opportunity by adding a monumental piece to his resume as a last lap USAC winner at Knoxville. 


Jake Swanson’s most recent Knoxville appearance resulted in a last lap victory during the June 2023 Corn Belt Clash. Earlier that same night, Swanson set quick time during qualifying as well.

Thus far in 2024, Swanson remains on the hunt for both his first feature win and his first fast time of the season.

However, Swanson’s latest performance on the similar dirt half-mile at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track one week ago gives some credence that Knoxville could provide that long-awaited season breakthrough.

Swanson finished second at Terre Haute last Tuesday night, leading a race-high 20 of the 30 laps before developing a hole in his right rear tire and being passed for the lead just two laps from the finish line.


Only one driver has won more than two USAC sprint car features at Knoxville Raceway. In fact, that driver has won four throughout his illustrious career. That’s Brady Bacon.

The Broken Arrow, Okla., native scored at Knoxville in 2011, then swept both nights of the Corn Belt Clash in 2019 and capped the weekend with a triumph in 2020. 

In 2023, he led until the final lap before developing a tire issue and being passed for the lead and the win by Jake Swanson. Bacon still managed to finish second.

In nine career Knoxville USAC Sprint Car starts, Bacon has only finished outside the top-three once. It’s a profile that features four wins, three seconds and a third, and no finish worse than 10th.


Since winning his first USAC National Sprint Car event at Knoxville in 2017, Grant has reeled off finishes of second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth at the legendary half-mile track.

This weekend, a finish of that caliber for Grant would be a welcome sight for the two-time and defending USAC National Sprint Car champion. Entering Knoxville, he’s finished 13th or worse in seven of his last nine outings, which has dropped him to eighth in the series standings despite already notching four feature wins to this point.

It is wise to note that, around this same point last year, Grant struggled mightily before putting it all back together to capture his second straight crown. Two opportunities this weekend at Knoxville provide that chance to kickstart his season and get back into the groove in pursuit of a third consecutive title.


The last USAC visit to Knoxville saw a jubilant and triumphant Team AZ Racing crew celebrating in victory lane after a last-lap pass for the win by Jake Swanson.

This year, Daison Pursley is at the wheel of No. 21az, and the signs are beginning to point to a breakthrough coming soon for the Locust Grove, Okla., native who captured USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year honors one year ago.

In his six most recent USAC National Sprint Car starts during the month of May, Pursley has recorded results of sixth, second, sixth, sixth, third and third for an average finishing spot of 4.33. 

Over the past few weeks, he won a USAC National Midget race, finished fifth in his USAC Silver Crown debut after starting at the tail, finished on the podium thrice with the USAC sprint cars, and most recently, last Sunday, he was victorious in a winged sprint car at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway.

Pursley already owns a USAC sprint car non-points special event victory at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park in February 2023. 


Logan Seavey has already become the earliest to win five USAC sprint car features (May 23, 2024) in a season since Larry Dickson on May 10, 1970. Furthermore, Seavey became the first driver since Bryan Clauson in 2016 to win five races within the first 14 events of the season.

Dickson is the only driver to win six USAC National Sprint Car features by the end of May. Seavey can equal that record on Friday at Knoxville. However, no driver has ever won seven USAC National Sprint Car features by the end of June 1. Seavey can set a record with a two-night Knoxville sweep this weekend.

If Seavey was to win this Friday at Knoxville, he’d be the first to win six of the first 15 races in a season since Robert Ballou in 2015. Similarly, if Seavey was to sweep the weekend, he’d be the first to win seven of the first 16 races to start a season since Ballou during the same 2015 campaign.

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