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PR by Reid VanEck - August 12, 2011

One of the toughest formats in all of racing got underway for Craig Dollansky and the Big Game Treestands #7 team on Thursday as they took to the historic Knoxville Raceway for their qualifying night of the 51st Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals.

With 54 cars signed into the pit area, Dollansky drew a late qualifying number but turned a strong qualifying lap muscling the Aggressive Hydraulics Maxim to 6th fastest at 15.452 seconds.  The Karavan Trailers backed sprinter started seventh in the first heat as the large qualifying inversion makes for some of the best racing of the weekend for the fans with the quick qualifiers starting at the back and trying to race their way forward. 

With only the top four in each heat transferring directly into the Thursday night feature, Dollansky worked the highside of the narrow racing surface and ran sixth until a red flag with two laps to go.  On the restart ‘The Crowd Pleaser’ raced past Danny Lasoski for fifth and came after Mark Dobmeier for the transfer position.  Dollansky would race side-by-side with Dobmeier but the bottom of the track just wasn’t good enough in the ten lap race to steal the transfer position.  In the B-Main the Elk River, Minnesota native would start fourth and charge up to 2nd to transfer into the main event.

Ready to make a charge through the A-Main the Big Game Treestands #7 started in row eleven of the 25-lap feature.  When the green flag waved Dollansky raced past Paul McMahan for thirteenth on lap 3 but a caution would move him back to fourteenth for the restart.  The driver of the Eaton’s Aeroquip Performance Products #7 continued his charge and cracked the top ten by just lap 6 and had ninth before a caution on lap 7.  With 13 laps to go the oil line that controls the power steering and top wing started to leak but Dollansky still worked his way up to seventh when a caution came with 11 to go.  On the restart he charged past two cars on the bottom side to take fifth by the exit of turn two and then rocket around the highside of turns 3 & 4 one lap later to take fourth from Dale Blaney by the narrowest of margins.  Just when it looked like ‘The Crowd Pleaser’ was going to record a strong finish charging from the back of the pack the oil leak started to amplify and spray oil all over the cockpit.  With the power steering gone and visibility nearly non-existent due to no more tear offs, Dollansky had his hands full trying to grip the oil drenched steering wheel and wipe his visor with his gloves as he slipped through the field in the remaining eight laps all the way back to 17th.

With the qualifying night in the books and points accumulated, Dollansky is still locked into the $150,000-to-win 50-lap feature on Saturday night as he sits 18th overall.  The Big Game Treestands #7 team will return to action tonight for the Premier Chevy Dealers World Challenge, an event Dollansky raced to victory last year.







Quick stats: 
FIELD: 54 CARS
QUALIFYING: 15.452 (6th)
HEAT RACE 1: 6th, start (7)
B-MAIN: 2nd, start (4)
A-MAIN: 17th, start (22)
NOTES: up to 4th but oil leak in cockpit reduced visibility and grip