Knoxville Nationals Night 3: Logan Schuchart’s sweet redemption

Logan Schuchart made a soul-crushing brain fart on Wednesday night, and it would have been easy to run away and hide for the next 48 hours after that.

Instead, he did the opposite: Schuchart showed his face and did interviews, owned his mistake, took all the blame on himself and didn’t shy away from discussing the error — as embarrassing as it might have been.

Then, on Friday night, Schuchart did something even more impressive: He went out and made up for it on the track, completely redeeming himself in the process.

Hey kids, want to know how to handle adversity after a self-inflicted mistake? Be like Logan.

Of course, Schuchart would rather not have been the example for this — and at the start of the week, his story seemed like it would be much different.

Schuchart, a 25-year-old from Pennsylvania, went out and set the quickest time in qualifying on Night 1 of the Knoxville National prelims on Wednesday.

Pretty great start for the biggest sprint car race in the world.

Qualifying so well results in a poor starting spot for the heat races, and Schuchart ended up in the B-Main.

But then he went out and won the B — even driving past the legend Donny Schatz — and put himself in a points position to get an excellent starting spot for Saturday night’s A-Main.

But then the mistake happened.

Drivers at Knoxville are required to drive straight to the scales after every race so officials can ensure they’re within the legal weight rules. That’s different than the World of Outlaws, where drivers just go to the scales after the feature.

Schuchart, already thinking about competing in that night’s A-Main and used to the WoO format, skipped the scales and drove back to his pit instead. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late.


Officials had no choice but to disqualify Schuchart, stripping his finish and leaving him well outside the points position needed to lock into the Saturday feature.

It was every driver’s nightmare: A great performance on the track erased by a procedural error off it.

Schuchart could have thrown a fit about it, arguing his case with officials or blasting the rules in the media.

Instead, he spent Thursday doing interviews — including two in front of live audiences — where he owned up to the mistake.

“They call it a driver’s meeting for a reason, and I guess I wasn’t paying attention at it,” Schuchart said Friday night. “They tell you where you’re supposed to go, and I’ve been here in years past and I should know that. It was my fault and it’s the driver’s responsibility.”

Fortunately, the Knoxville format gives drivers one more chance to lock themselves into the A-Main before Saturday — though it’s arguably much more difficult (four spots available vs. 16 spots on the first two nights).

But guess what? Schuchart went out and got himself into Friday night’s A-Main, started from the pole and won the race after a fierce battle with local favorite Brian Brown.

“I was expecting (the team) to come in and be all mad at me and not talk to me or whatever, but they just went right back to work and started getting it ready for today,” Schuchart said of the fallout. “They gave me a great race car to come up tonight and come back swinging.”

And that he did — this despite Schuchart’s grandfather/team owner, sprint car great Bobby Allen, hospitalized nearby. Schuchart said the race was the first his grandfather had missed since the driver was 10 years old.

Nevertheless, Schuchart will start 17th in the A-Main on Saturday night. And even though he likely would have been higher in the field had the error not occurred, there’s no time to dwell on it now.

Anything can happen on Saturday, including an even happier ending to this redemption story.

“We’re lucky to be there and happy to be there,” Schuchart said. “It’s a long 50 laps.”