KNOXVILLE, Iowa — In what was one of the most unusual weeks of qualifying in the 61-year history of the Knoxville Nationals, the combined points from the two preliminary fields revealed an extremely interesting field.
The top 16 drivers in points are locked into Saturday night’s 50-lap, $175,000-to-win main event led by former Knoxville Raceway champion Austin McCarl, who finished fourth on Thursday and earned the most points, giving him the pole for Saturday night.
McCarl earned 477 points, with reigning All Star Circuit of Champions title winner and last year’s Kings Royal winner, Tyler Courtney, sharing the front row. Courtney had 473 points.
Donny Schatz and David Gravel, who tied atop Wednesday’s points, will share the second row with 469 points each.
Carson Macedo, driving for two-time Nationals winning Jason Johnson Racing, will start fifth, while defending Nationals winner Kyle Larson parlayed a 22nd to fifth run on Thursday into the sixth starting spot for Saturday night.
Brent Marks, who swept the Kings Royal and the Historical Big One at Eldora Speedway last month, will start seventh, with now part-time racer Daryn Pittman earning the eighth starting spot in his return to Mike Heffner’s Pennsylvania-based team.
Brad Sweet, the 2018 Nationals winner, and J.J. Hickle, who qualified for his first Nationals main event, will share row five.
Thursday night winner Jacob Allen, Parker Price-Miller, rookies Justin Sanders and Buddy Kofoid and Knoxville Raceway regulars Tasker Phillips, who made the field for the first time in his 11th attempt, and Aaron Reutzel complete the locked-in drivers.
Gio Scelzi, Logan Schuchart, who became the first driver to win a preliminary night feature and not be locked into Saturday’s main event, Lynton Jeffrey and Zeb Wise were 16th through 20th in points.