Hodnett takes lead, wins on final circuit at Grove

MECHANICSBURG – Greg Hodnett grabbed the lead on the final lap from Brian Leppo and went on to score the sprint car win at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night.

The driver from Thomasville earned $4,350 in a car owned by John Trone.

“We don’t want to win by somebody running out of fuel, but we all have the same opportunity to fill up our tanks,” Hodnett said. “I know they were running hard, running wide-open and probably used up a lot of fuel. I know they run a lot of gear and all of those factors didn’t help the cause and a lot of yellows. We’ll take it any way we can. Wins are hard to come by.”

Leppo started on the pole with Steve Buckwalter starting second. The pair made contact exiting turn four on the initial start.

Buckwalter secured the lead from Leppo as they raced off the second turn. Defending track champion Hodnett started eighth and was up to fifth on the first lap.

The fast way around was on the top side of the speedway as Buckwalter led Leppo, Jim Siegel, Chad Layton and Hodnett.

Leppo would close on the leader, but then get loose off the corner and fall back to about a half-straightaway behind.

The first caution flag of the race flew on lap 12 when Curt Stroup stopped on the front stretch after losing a right front wheel.

Leppo put a slider on Buckwalter in turns one and two on the restart and grabbed the lead off turn two. Hodnett drove by Layton and then Siegel to grab third following the restart.

Leppo and Buckwalter would once again swap the lead in turns one and two with Leppo retaining the lead.

The caution flag flew again on lap 17 when Siegel stopped in between turns three and four.

Leppo blocked a potential slider by Buckwalter on the restart as Hodnett drove by Buckwalter for second off turn two. Brian Montieth restarted fourth and also got by Buckwalter.

Trouble for some of the front runners occurred on lap 20 as Buckwalter slowed and pitted and Montieth slowed to a stop in turn four, bringing out the caution flag again.

Hodnett tried to make the inside line work over the final five laps, but Leppo was too strong off the cushion.

However, Layton stopped on the front stretch after his car burst into flames when the engine blew with one lap to go bringing out the red flag. He was injured.

Leppo went to the bottom of turn one to block the slider on the restart, but Hodnett blasted through the middle and took the lead. Leppo was running out of fuel and slowed on the backstretch and was passed by 11th starting point leader Fred Rahmer.

“His car stumbled down the front straightaway before we ever got to the turn and it really shut down on him getting into turn one,” Hodnett said. “It was an open lane around the top. It was an opportunity for us to be able to park ourselves in victory lane.”

Hodnett scored his second Grove win of the season, 53rd of his career and seventh overall in central Pennsylvania. Rahmer, Adam Wilt, Cory Haas and Leppo completed the top five. Don Kreitz Jr., Alan Krimes, Brent Marks, Ryan Smith and Gerard McIntyre Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Siegel, Krimes and Leppo won the 10-lap heat races for the 21-car field.

Mark Smith of Sunbury started 12th and won the 360 Sprint Nationals and $4,000. Smith defeated Pat Cannon, Ryan Bohlke, early race leader J.J. Grasso and Kevin Nouse.