Dakotah Knuckles has been highly successful racing on the super high banks of the Tazewell Speedway. Indeed, the Ewing, VA native is always a threat to win when any series comes to visit the track located in the upper northeastern corner of Tennessee.
Knuckles captured the $5,000-to-win Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals feature in 2018 and the Buddy Rogers Memorial race, sanctioned by the Fall Nationals as well as the Iron-Man Late Model Series, in 2019. However, 2020 was proving to be less than stellar for the 26-year-old racer and his team throughout the first half of the cornoavirus-plagued season.
“When we tried new stuff we couldn’t figure out what was wrong but we knew something wasn’t right somewhere,” Knuckles explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “We sent our shocks off and had them reworked and everything because we thought our problem might be in our shocks. We got them back and smashed them and had them all ready to go and we still weren’t any good.”
Not only did the team’s troubles persist, they actually got worse. An incident on a hammer-down track one night at 411 Motor Speedway only served to compound the team’s woes.
“We went to 411 and was decent but the track was pretty heavy and everybody’s got a good car when the track is heavy,” he pointed out. “We got put in the wall and ever since then it reacted a lot different so we stripped it all down and put it on the jig and found some stuff that was bent. We had that fixed but we still were no account.”
As the summer wore on, Knuckles was still scratching his head over the car’s issues.
“We started thinking that our car was getting old, but it ain’t really that old,” he said. “It’s probably got forty or fifty races on it then we got it all back together it was running bad in the middle of the pack, losing spots in the feature, and just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.”
As it turned out, the problem wasn’t with the car as much as it was with a faulty piece of equipment.
“I started using Michael Chilton’s spring smasher and realized that our spring smasher was off by quite a bit,” Knuckles recounted. “But it ended up that their spring smasher was off too, but it was closer than what mine was. I ended up being 200 pounds off on my big number on my right front and that made a big difference. We got a new spring smasher and we’ve been running better ever since.”
With that issue resolved, the No. 21K Rocket Chassis returned to its competitive self when the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals rolled into Tazewell this past July. Knuckles immediately turned his season around with a victory valued at $10,053.
Now, Knuckles would like to see that success transfer to other places.
“That’s our home track and it’s nice to get a big win there,” he declared. “If we can do it anywhere, we can do it there. We’ve got a lot of laps there but I’m ready to get wins at other places. We’ve run good at Ponderosa, we broke the track record up there then Tanner English broke it behind me. We were leading our heat and broke a power steering line. We started fifth in the feature and was running around sixth but we busted a radiator.
“Ever since we found those problems we’ve been running better. Hopefully we can keep some momentum going and stay near the front.”
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