The spotlight shined bright on Knoxville Raceway Wednesday for the opening night of the 52nd Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals. With a challenging format unlike any other, Craig Dollansky and the Big Game Treestands #7 team aimed to accumulate as many points as possible on the first qualifying night.
After a thunderstorm delayed the start of the program by two hours, racing got underway for 48 competitors at the historic half-mile. In qualifying ‘The Crowd Pleaser’ nearly recorded the fastest lap rocketing the Aggressive Hydraulics Maxim to 2nd fastest at 14.768 seconds. Battling a narrow track in the heat races, Dollansky started outside row four and came up two positions short of a transfer in 6th. In the B-Main the Elk River, Minnesota native started second and finished 2nd in the 12-lap event to transfer into the main event.
Lining up outside row eleven for the 25-lap A-Main, Dollansky had plenty of work cut out for the feature and advanced to sixteenth when the first caution flag flew around the halfway point with 12 laps to go. Using a great restart, the MobileStar #7 drove by three cars and cracked the top-ten before a yellow six circuits later. Another outstanding restart saw ‘The Crowd Pleaser’ motor past four cars to claim sixth before another caution with four laps remaining. Running fifth when the final caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, Dollansky powered by one more car to steal 4th before the checkered flag flew.
With points now accumulated after the strong qualifying night, the Big Game Treestands #7 team leads the field with 477 points out of a possible 500 and is locked into Saturday night’s $150,000-to-win Knoxville Nationals.