MECHANICSBURG - Steve Buckwalter and Brian Montieth traded the lead several times during the sprint car feature at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night,
At the end of the non-stop 25-lap main event, it was Buckwalter standing in victory lane for his first win of the season in a sprinter owned by Clair and Jan Ritter of Selinsgrove. Buckwalter, of Royersford, earned $3,600, plus $250 in lap money.
"We've been having motor issues all year," Buckwalter said. "We changed the setup a little bit. We have a two-hour ride to the shop, so we have a lot of time to talk and make things happen. I think Brian was just as hungry for it as I was. He's been struggling this year, too. A couple of years ago, he got the win from me on the last lap. I wasn't going to let that happen again."
Buckwalter started second and grabbed the race lead at the start from polesitter Ryan Smith. Montieth started sixth and wasted no time getting into third spot.
Montieth tried a few sliders on Smith, but wasn't close enough to make the pass. He finally made the move work off turn four.
And then the duel between Buckwalter and Montieth began.
Montieth blasted under the leader in turns three and four, but Buckwalter came right back and led with 10 laps completed.
They began to work through lapped traffic and Montieth had a little trouble off turn two with a lapped car. Meanwhile, defending track champion Greg Hodnett was up to third and was closing on the lead duo.
Montieth, of Phoenixville, got under Buckwalter for the lead once again, but Buckwalter was determined and took the lead back with 10 laps left.
Buckwalter took Montieth's line away in turns one and three the next lap to help keep the lead. He lost some speed and Montieth was right on him at the flagstand with Hodnett looking for a way around from third.
Montieth took another shot in turn one, but Buckwalter drove by off the turn two cushion to keep the lead on lap 18.
Montieth tried a few more times over the final seven laps, but settled for second as Buckwalter scored his first Grove win of the season.
"Right now, whoever has the clean air has the advantage," Montieth said. "It showed tonight. You've got to make a radical pass. It's all about momentum. Unless you use somebody up, but I'm not that way."
Hodnett finished third and gained a lot of points in the track championship chase. Adam Wilt and Danny Dietrich completed the top five.
Smith, Chad Layton, Pat Cannon, Brent Marks and points leader Fred Rahmer rounded out the top 10.
Layton, Rahmer, Hodnett and Dietrich won the heat races for the 35 car field. Lance Dewease won the consolation.
Brock Zearfoss drove by Matt Mountz early in the 20-lap main event for the 358 sprints and went on to the win in a car owned by John Westbrook. Mountz settled for second. Jay Galloway, Adrian Shaffer and Mark Smith rounded out the top five.
Jordan Givler, Rich Eichelberger, point leader Kevin Nouse, Dale Hammaker and Austin Hogue were in the top 10.
Galloway, Zearfoss and Smith won the 358 sprint car heats.