Thursday, August 17, 2023

1980 – Kinser Foils Brook’s Bid for Sprint Crown

Steve Kinser enjoys his first Knoxville Nationals title with second place finisher Bobby Marshall (right) and third-place finisher Tom Corbin (left).

Knoxville, Iowa (August 17, 1980) – Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., claimed the National Sprint Championship at the Knoxville Raceway on Sunday afternoon, ending the hopes of polesitter Mike Brooks of Knoxville, who was trying to become the first native Iowan to claim the auto racing crown.

Kinser pocketed $6,000 for his fete, while second-place finisher Bobby Marshall of Arlington, Tex., collected $4,000 and third-place Tom Corbin of Carrollton, Mo., earned $3,000. Kinser collected a total of $8,365 in prize money, along with a championship ring valued at $2,000 in the five days of racing here.

Brooks, who led the qualifying for the title race, led the first 12 laps before Kinser, who started on the outside of the front row, scooted in front coming off the final turn.

Brooks slipped to third behind Marshall and then Corbin got in front of Brooks on lap 24.

After limping for the next few circuits, Brooks, the Knoxville season champion, pulled into the pit area with two laps remaining, and finished in 15th, netting $200.

Only 13 of the 22 starters finished the 30-lap contest, with the first pair of cars leaving before three laps had clicked off. Joe Saldana of Brownsburg, Ind., and Gary Scott of Holts Summit, Mo., spun into each other entering turn one, with Saldana’s car rolling several times before coming to a halt. Both drivers were unhurt.

Kinser, who claimed his first-ever national sprint car title, opened a big lead three different times, only to have a caution bunch the field back up again.

“We’ve won every big race except this one,” Kinser said after his victory.

Corbin was the big surprise of the day. He started by finishing second in the B-main, which allowed him, along with second place Gary Patterson of Sacramento, Calif., and third place Lee Osborne of Jamestown, Ind., to qualify for the back of the pack for the A-main.

Corbin started one spot from the back and reached sixth position by lap 20. Three laps later he was in fifth and he slipped into third with five laps left and held that spot.

Doug Wolfgang of Sioux Falls, S.D., was thwarted in his attempt to gain a third national crown. Wolfgang need to finish in the top three of the C-main and then do the same in the B-main, but a collision on the “C” ended his chances.

Wolfgang lost control coming out of turn four and slid in front of Larry Clark of Tollefson, Ariz. Clark hit Wolfgang’s car and was sent end-over-end down the track in front of the grandstand. After finally stopping, Clark’s car was done for the day and a bent axle eliminated Wolfgang as well. Neither driver was hurt.

Results –

1. Steve Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
2. Bobby Marshall, Arlington, Tex.
3. Tom Corbin, Carrollton, Mo.
4. Tim Green, Carmichael, Calif.
5. Lee Osborne, Jamestown, Ind.
6. Jimmy Sills, Sacramento, Calif.
7. John Stevenson, St. Paul, Minn.
8. Dick Morris, Le Mars, Iowa
9. Danny Smith, Hendersonville, Tenn.
10.Bill Robison, Topeka, Mo.
11.Eddie Leavitt, Kearney, Mo.
12.Ron Shuman, Mesa, Ariz.
13.Gary Patterson, Sacramento, Calif.
14.Randy Smith, Norwalk, Iowa
15.Mike Brooks, Knoxville, Iowa
16.Ronnie Daniels, Memphis, Tenn.
17.Bobby Davis Jr., Memphis, Tenn.
18.Lee James, Lipton, Ind.
19.Jeff Swindell, Memphis, Tenn.
20.Al Unser Jr., Albuquerque, N.M
21.Gary Scott, Holts Summit, Mo.
22.Joe Saldana, Brownsburg, Ind.

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