It’s just about time for Sprint Car racing’s best to make the half-hour drive east from Knoxville Raceway to the Southern Iowa Speedway for the return of the Sage Fruit Front Row Challenge in Oskaloosa, Iowa on Monday, August 8.
This event, sandwiched between the Capitani Classic and the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway, has become a mainstay on many Sprint Car driver’s and fan’s schedules.
2022 Front Row Challenge at Southern Iowa Speedway
The 2022 edition of the event will pay out $21,000 to the race winner, plus a ton of extra bonus money and rewards. There were big prizes for awards such as the “Hard Luck” and “Hard Charger” of the event, prize money to the highest finishing PA Posse driver, highest finishing Australian driver, Fast Time Qualifier, plus prize money to heat race winners.
The Front Row Challenge itself has evolved and changed forms over the years. In the beginning, the polesitter was given the option of starting at the rear of the field. If that driver roared back through the field to win, they received bonus money on top of the winner’s purse.
In recent years, the challenge belonged to the Keith Hutton Memorial King of the Hill Match Races. The match races were a bracket-style knockout session to determine the polesitter for the feature event. This year, there’s a new twist on this part of the event.
Due to the ongoing nationwide tire shortage, the event promoters decided to make a slight change to the match-race format. Instead of using their cars to race each other, the drivers will use their feet instead. There will be three, 40-yard dashes on foot to set the first four rows of the starting lineup with the winner taking home a $1,500 bonus and the pole position for the feature event.
Last year’s version of the Front Row Challenge was won by NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson. The win catapulted Larson into a big week that also saw him win the Knoxville Nationals just a few days later. Larson is now a two-time winner of the Front Row Challenge, with his first win coming in the 2018 event.
Recent winners of the Front Row Challenge over the last decade include Daryn Pittman, Shane Stewart, Brad Sweet, and Brian Brown.
The Front Row Challenge has taken place every year since 1996 with the exception of 1997 and 2020 because both events fell to Mother Nature. In addition to Pittman, Stewart, Sweet and Brown, the Front Row Challenge has been won by Sprint Car legends like Terry McCarl, Jac Haudenschild, Jeff Shepard, Lance Dewease, Kenny Jacobs, Danny Lasoski, and Sammy Swindell.
Southern Iowa Speedway is a half-mile oval located in Oskaloosa, Iowa, about 35 minutes to the east of Knoxville, Iowa.
Race fans that cannot make it to Southern Iowa Speedway to take in the Front Row Challenge in person can watch the night’s racing action live on FloRacing beginning at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT.