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Matt Juhl Headlines Night of Three First-Time Winners at Knoxville!

Matt Juhl Headlines Night of Three First-Time Winners at Knoxville!

It was fitting on the first Van Wall Equipment Night and a night Knoxville Raceway hosted its “Future Stars”, three first-time winners graced Victory Lane at the “Sprint Car Capital of the World” Saturday. Matt Juhl, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota persevered in traffic to claim his first ever win here in the 410 sprint car class. Sawyer Phillips held off veteran Clint Garner to finish atop the 360 class, and Brad Comegys led from green to checker in the 305 class.

Before a lap could be completed in the 20-lap 410 feature, Rager Phillips came to a stop in turn two. He would continue with his nose wing askew. Matt Juhl shot out from the pole position when the green flag fell again, with Brian Brown jumping up to second from row two, ahead of Austin McCarl, Brooke Tatnell and Josh Schneiderman.

Two laps were completed when Brown entered turn one, and his left rear wheel exited the car. The two-time track champion flipped into the turn one fence, but was uninjured. Juhl would lead the field back to green ahead of Austin McCarl, Tatnell, Schneiderman and Terry McCarl.

The rest of the event would go non-stop. Terry McCarl rode the cushion to get by Schneiderman on the restart, but Ian Madsen was on the move as well, entering the top five by lap five. Up front, Juhl would enter traffic with nine laps to go. Despite hesitating behind a couple of markers, he maintained his advantage over Austin McCarl, who closed in on him on occasion.

Madsen would get by Terry McCarl for fourth and reel in fellow Aussie, Brooke Tatnell, in the closing stages. Juhl would continue on to his first triumph here ahead of a strong Austin McCarl, Madsen, who nipped Tatnell on the last lap for third, and Terry McCarl. Schneiderman, Danny Lasoski, Dominic Scelzi, Chris Martin and Lynton Jeffrey rounded out the top ten. Jeffrey posted quick time on the night, with Martin, Tasker Phillips and Schneiderman winning heats.

“This is unbelievable,” said Juhl in Victory Lane. “I’m literally in shock right now. We were lucky to be on the front row, and there were a lot of good guys behind us. When we got to lapped traffic, it was unbelievable how much dirty air there was. That was a workout! I was struggling when I got behind cars. I couldn’t get by them as fast as I wanted. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my crew, family and sponsors. I wish we would have run here weekly last year. It was hard for us to pass up a track fifteen miles away from us, but you get treated so well here.”

Nineteen-year-old Sawyer Phillips had a similar journey to the front as Juhl. He out-drug fellow front row starter, Clint Garner, and kept the hammer down. Using the low groove, he led Garner, Ryan Giles, Matt Moro and Jon Agan early in the 18-lapper.

Phillips entered lapped traffic on the sixth circuit, and remained flawless. On one occasion in turn three, he would split a pair of lappers to extend his margin. Disaster struck on lap twelve for the third running Giles, when he slowed on the backstretch and coasted to the infield.

Phillips would bobble a bit the last two laps, but he recorded his first win ahead of Garner, Moro, Agan and Jamie Ball, who would later be disqualified for not reporting to the scales. Calvin Landis, Nate Van Haaften, Chris Martin, Joe Beaver, Troy Manteufel and Tyler Groenendyk would help complete the official top ten. Landis set quick time over the field, while Martin, Garner and Christian Bowman won heat races.

“It’s still settling in,” said Phillips of his first win. “I knew the track was good enough that if I could get the nose on Garner going into turn one, I’d at least lead the first lap. I didn’t know how long I’d hold him off. I split two cars going into three, and I thought, ‘I better get my game face back on.’ Most of the lapped cars were hanging in the middle, so I could sneak under them. I got a little impatient the last couple laps and wasn’t hitting my marks. I knew if I hit the bottom of two and four, that it was going to be tough for Garner to pass me.”

A bit of luck aided Brad Comegys to begin the 15-lap 305 feature. Chris Walraven slowed on the first attempt and restarted at the tail. On the second try, Ryan Leavitt jumped the right rear of Kevin Hetrick and flipped in turn four. The two were starting inside rows two and three. When pole-sitter, Matt Stephenson was penalized for his third false start, Comegys inherited the pole after being scheduled to start seventh.

He would hit the low side of the raceway in the lead. Behind him, Kade Higday shot to the cushion from outside row four and took the runner-up spot, ahead of Joe Simbro, Stephenson and Eric Bridger. Comegys remained out front and entered lapped traffic on lap nine.

A circuit later, he almost turned his car sideways. Dan Henning was being lapped and spun to avoid the leader, backing his car into the turn three wall. He was o.k. Comegys would lead the field back to green. Stephenson would use the restart to shoot by Simbro into third.

Higday would reel in the leader late, but Comegys would hold on for his first Knoxville win ahead of Higday, Stephenson, Bridger and Tyler Glass. Simbro, Kelby Watt, Evan Epperson, hard-charger Mike Mayberry and Corey Kautz rounded out the top ten. Walraven posted quick time, while Stephenson, Higday and Comegys won the heats.

“I noticed that I got Dan (Henning) there a little bit, and I thank him for checking up on me,” said Comegys. “Kurt Carson had the car awesome. He works his butt off. Everyone that helps get us to this point…I can’t say enough.”

Next Saturday night, June 24 is Marion County Farm Bureau Mid-Season Championships Night! The Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame inductions will also be taking place! All three sprint car classes will be in action. For more information, visit www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com!