Hodnett claims first Speedweek victory

MECHANICSBURG – Greg Hodnett passed Danny Dietrich on the final lap to win the Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek opener at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night.

Hodnett, of Thomasville, earned $5,000, plus a $250 bonus for a last-lap pass. Dietrich started on the pole and led the first 24 laps, but jumped the fourth turn cushion giving Hodnett the opener he needed to steal the win.

“Danny was having some problems getting off four,” Hodnett said. “He hit the wall two or three times before that. I was just waiting until we got into lapped traffic or he messed up. It worked out for us that he had some problems off four and we got a good run down the frontstretch. It was unfortunate for him. It was good for us to take advantage of it, so we’ll take it.”

Dietrich, of Gettysburg, grabbed the early race lead from Chad Layton at the drop of the green. Hodnett started third and grabbed the runner-up spot on the first lap. Danny Lasoski would take over third.

The caution flag flew with two laps completed for a spin in turn one.

Dietrich got away from Hodnett on the restart as Sam Hafertepe Jr. took fourth spot from Layton.

The caution flag flew again on lap five when Eric Riggins Jr. stopped at the end of the backstretch.

Hodnett stayed right with Dietrich through turns three and four, but Dietrich would get through turns one and two better than Hodnett to maintain a 10-car length lead.

Brent Marks would drive by Layton to take over fifth. Dietrich reached lapped traffic on lap 12 with Hodnett closing.

The leader was nearly over the cushion in turn four as he tried to get by the lapped cars. Hodnett was nearly under Dietrich in turn one, but Dietrich slammed the door to keep the lead.

They would both pass the lapped car with Hodnett only a few car lengths back. The pair raced by another lapped car with eight laps to go.

A caution flag interrupted the battle for the lead.

Dietrich had one lapped car between himself and Hodnett for the restart with eight laps left. Dietrich stuck hard to the cushion and maintained the lead, but got too high coming off turn four to the white flag. This gave Hodnett his chance.

Dietrich tried to take Hodnett’s line in turn one, but slipped up a little bit again and Hodnett was under him for the lead. Hodnett pulled ahead slightly down the backstretch and secured the lead in turn three.

Hodnett would score his 23rd career Speedweek win and first of the season at Williams Grove. It was his fourth overall win of the season.

Dietrich settled for a disappointing runner-up finish. Lasoski, Marks and Hafertepe Jr. completed the top five. Layton, Lance Dewease, Fred Rahmer, Alan Krimes and Brian Montieth completed the top 10.

Hafertepe Jr. set fast time over the 34-car field with a lap of 16.892 seconds. Dietrich, Dewease, Rodney Westhafer and Gerard McIntyre Jr. won the 10-lap heat races. Adam Wilt won the consolation.