PORT ROYAL - Port Royal Speedway closed the 2012 racing season on Saturday night with an exciting and suspenseful 410 sprint car feature that saw Thomasville's Greg Hodnett score the $4,500 victory in the Labor Day Classic event, which was pushed back due to bad weather in early September.
In the 20-lap super sportsman main, veteran Rich Eichelberger of Dillsburg wired the field from the front row for his fourth career win at the oval.
The initial start of the sprint car main was red flagged for a backstretch mishap that saw Mark Coldren tear through the infield fence near the scoreboard before coming to rest.
Sentinel photo by TIM SHUMAKER
During the make-up Labor Day Classic race Saturday, 27 Daryn Pittman and 39 Greg Hodnett racing for position in turn two. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
Hodnett started eighth in the 30-lap Labor Day race while Mike Wagner took control once the race got rolling over pole sitter Pat Cannon and newly crowned track titlist Chad Layton.
Wagner pulled away with clear track at the start but the distance between the leaders was shrinking amid traffic when the red flag unfurled with seven laps down for a hard hit of the fourth turn guardrail by Trenton Shaffer.
With open track, Wagner again pulled away at the new green, still followed by Cannon, Layton, Daryn Pittman and Hodnett.
A barnburner unfolded over the ensuing laps with Cannon stalking Wagner for the lead and again as they entered the rear of the field, the distance between the front runners started shrinking.
At the halfway point, Hodnett had gotten by Pittman for fourth but was still some distance behind the leaders although the entire pack was closing in on one another.
With 10 laps to go, the front five cars were racing on the same straightaway together and inching ever so close to each others fuel cells with Cannon working the bottom groove to try and overtake Wagner while Layton, Hodnett and now Mark Smith gave chase.
But a final yellow flag for a slowing car in the second corner with five laps to go broke up what was shaping up to be a thrilling finish and settled the field down for a restart free of traffic with 2.5 miles to go.
Hodnett drove masterfully on the restart, ducking under Layton for third at the new green before disposing of Cannon with three to go.
The Tennessee transplant then dusted off Wagner with a lap and a half to go by muscling away the lead with an inside move before driving to a 1.526 second lead at the checkers.
It was Hodnett's eighth overall win of the season at the track and his second in the prestigious Labor Day Classic after taking his first in 2007.
Wagner settled for second followed by Cannon, Smith and Blane Heimbach. Sixth through 10th went to Mike Erdley, Lance Dewease, Rick Lafferty, Jessica Zemken and Pittman, who pitted with five to go before returning.
Layton fell pitside late in the race as well.
Erdley earned a $250 Hard Charger Award after starting 14th in the field. Lance Dewease took $250 for setting quick time over the 23-car field with a lap of 16.955 seconds.
Heats went to Pittman, Cannon and Wagner.
Eichelberger's pace was hampered by yellow flag periods on laps six, 10 and 13 and was trailed by Paul Miller early before Scott Geesey took over the runner-up spot.
Geesey pressured Eichelberger after the final restart, staying just two car lengths behind at times before Eichelberger pulled away at the finish.
Geesey was second followed by Rick Barr, Jay Fannasy and Scott Dellinger. Sixth through 10th went to Gregg Foster, Bobby Hockenberry, Steve Fannasy, Dave Socks and Carmen Perigo Jr.
Heats for the 27-car field went to Russ Mitten, Dave Berkheimer and Eichelberger with Doug Dodson taking the consolation.
Terry Goshorn won the Demolition Derby to close the night.