Hodnett wires Night Before the 50 race

PORT ROYAL – Greg Hodnett started on the pole and led all 30 laps of the Night Before the 50 Sprint Car feature at Port Royal Speedway on Friday night.

Port Royal presents the Tuscarora 50 for sprint cars tonight paying $12,000 to win.

Hodnett, of Thomasville, earned $5,000 for the victory against the All Star Circuit of Champion sprint car series. It was his 33rd career win at the Juniata County track and his first of the season.

“It’s nice to be standing up here,” Hodnett said from victory lane. “It’s either feast or famine for me here. Tonight, it worked out for us. I was very fortunate to start up front. We struggled at the end. Track position means a lot. We’ll take it.”

Hodnett blasted into the lead when the green flag fell over Brian Leppo and Danny Holtgraver. The first caution flag flew on lap two when Ryan Taylor stopped.

Tim Shaffer was up to fifth following the restart as Hodnett increased his lead over the field once again. Shaffer got by Dale Blaney to take fourth. Doug Esh spun in turn four with 10 laps down just as Hodnett got to lapped traffic.

Caleb Helms spun on the restart and then Blaney had trouble on the ensuing restart and slowed to a stop with steering issues. The race was red flagged for a fuel stop.

When the race resumed, Hodnett was in charge again and built a straightaway lead which was erased when the caution flag flew with 10 laps left. Hodnett was on cruise control heading for the checkers when the red flag flew for a flip by Helms in turn four. He was uninjured.

Hodnett controlled the green-white-checkered finish and scored the win over Leppo, Holtgraver, Shaffer and 17th starter Logan Schuchart.

“I was good on cold tires, but after I slid them for five or six laps, I really had a hard time keeping them under me,” Hodnett said.

Blane Heimbach finished sixth and will simply have to take a green flag lap tonight to clinch his first career Port Royal track championship. Lance Dewease, T.J. Stutts, Cap Henry and Chad Layton rounded out the top 10.

Blaney set fast time over the 39-car field with a lap of 16.234. The heat races were won by Layton, Brent Marks, Trey Gustin and Schuchart. Mike Wagner won the B-main.

Dylan Yoder won the 20-lap late model feature over Coleby Frye, Mike Lupfer, Matt Parks and Mitch Hack. Port Royal’s Terry Naugle clinched his first career track championship. Naugle won a single event this season.