KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Donny Schatz announced himself as the favorite to win Saturday night’s 52nd annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals with a dominant victory in Friday night’s SPEED SPORT Knoxville World Challenge at Knoxville Raceway.
Schatz started ninth and romped his Tony Stewart Racing No. 15 to third by lap five.
He jumped to second on a lap-six restart and stormed around Sammy Swindell for the lead only one lap of the half-mile oval later.
From there, he steadily pulled away to win the race which was in its 19th season, for the third time, earning $10,000 for 20 laps of work.
“If we don’t win anything else this weekend, we won tonight,” said Schatz, who will start fifth on Saturday night in a quest to win the $150,000-to-win classic for the sixth time in the past seven years. “That is an awesome race car. These guys have worked their tails off to get this car this good and that is the most fun race car that I’ve driven. I think we’re in a good position for tomorrow night.
“Anything can happen at this race. What happens tonight definitely doesn’t have any bearing on tomorrow. It was a fun race. You ponder on whether you want to risk tearing everything up, but it is a race and it is what we do.”
Swindell finished second with Jason Meyers, Craig Dollansky and Tim Shaffer completing the top five.