KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Pennsylvania-based sprint car veteran Greg Hodnett won Wednesday night’s preliminary feature to open the 5-hour Energy Knoxville Nationals and said track time at Knoxville Raceway is a key to being competitive during the prestigious event.

Hodnett’s Mike Heffner-owned team made the trip to the Sprint Car Capital of the World a week early to compete in the 360 Knoxville Nationals and the Capitani Classic, all in an effort to get additional laps in competition before this week’s action.

“Basically, you are trying to keep an eye on track conditions and where to be at certain times, and when you should slow down and hit the bottom and when you need to go to the top,” Hodnett said. “It’s just quirky little things that you don’t remember because you don’t run here that often. Thankfully, we were able to come out here and run a few laps and work on our car a little bit. We started off not very good, but we worked on it and we knew we had a long way to go to be able to run with these guys.”

Still, Hodnett says he’s not sure how much of what he learned about his car will apply by the time Saturday night’s A-main comes around.

“I don’t think the conditions will be the same by Saturday evening by the time we get through all the racing,” he explained. “I don’t know if I can really utilize what we learned. It’s unlikely the track conditions will be exactly the same. If it does get that way, I know we can’t go that far because if we’d have had to work traffic or pass guys, I’m not sure we’d have been able to do that.”