KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Cory Eliason may not have gotten the finish he hoped for Friday during the World of Outlaws Invitational at Knoxville Raceway, but he proved he’s going to be a contender for feature victories as racing resumes from the shutdown created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eliason raced to a commanding victory in his heat race at the black-dirt Marion County Fairgrounds half-mile oval, then was running in second place during the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash when the engine expired aboard his familiar Rudeen Racing No. 26.
Dejected but undeterred, Eliason’s Rudeen Racing crew bolted a fresh engine into his sprint car in roughly 20 minutes, allowing him to make the call for the 30-lap feature.
The Visalia, Calif., native steadily worked his way forward from eighth on the grid to a fifth-place finish, making a decisive pass of Lynton Jeffrey for the position with nine circuits remaining.
It was Eliason’s first top-five finish of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season, but one where he wondered what might have been.
“We had a great car,” he said. “Losing the motor was unexpected; it just all of a sudden let go. Knoxville is such a fun track, though, and I love going there. Coming from California, there’s nothing but bullrings out there, so it’s a lot of fun when we get to come to the big places.
“We still have a lot of work to do. I was kind of all over the place in the heat race, but we put together a good run in the feature. We just were a little bit too far back there,” Eliason added. “This is the longest offseason that I’ve had in four years because I’ve been going to Australia … leaving in mid-December and then coming back right before Florida (Speedweeks). I’m just glad we’re back racing again.”
Eliason leaves Knoxville ranked 11th in the World of Outlaws standings, just 90 markers behind series leader Logan Schuchart.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season continues May 22-23 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.