Kreitz preps for National Open with win at the Grove

MECHANICSBURG – Donnie Kreitz tuned up for next weekend’s National Open with an impressive victory at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night.

Kreitz’s second Grove win of the season was worth $4,000 and came after taking the lead from his young protege Ryan Smith.

“I’m probably happier for Ryan than I am for myself,” said Kreitz, of Sinking Spring. “We needed a win, but he needed a good run, too. He almost had me that one time in lapped traffic. The car was really good at the beginning of the race, but I must have overheated the tires because I started to get really loose.”

Brian Montieth started second and grabbed the lead, but slipped a little high off turn two and that allowed polesitter Smith to drive by and into the lead off turn two.

Montieth pressured Smith for the lead, but Kreitz drove through the middle making it three-wide racing in turn two. Kreitz got by Montieth and then passed Smith to lead with two laps completed.

Greg Hodnett and Fred Rahmer were side by side down the frontstretch and Hodnett took the spot in turn one. Meanwhile, Smith pressured Montieth for second and drove into second place with eight laps completed.

Smith, who has raced for Kreitz for two seasons now, began to close on the leader as he reached lapped traffic.

Kreitz moved off the bottom to lap a car in turn four and Smith drove by him on the bottom to lead lap 11. Kreitz drove back by in turn one.

“I was running the middle,” Kreitz said. “I went to the top to block Montieth for a while, but I felt slow. I came back down and the middle didn’t feel good anymore and around the lapped cars, it felt worse. I couldn’t go anywhere. I wasn’t good enough to go around them.”

They raced in heavy lapped traffic and Montieth passed Smith and closed on Kreitz. Kreitz was locked down low and Montieth made a run on the cushion.

“I figured he was making the top work in one and two,” said Kreitz, referring to Montieth. “But, luckily we didn’t get back into lapped traffic and that played into our hands.”

Rahmer slowed on the frontstretch on lap 15 bringing out the caution flag. Kreitz pulled away from Montieth, Smith and Hodnett on the restart.

“The yellow really helped me and the tires cooled back down and I took better care of them,” Kreitz said. “They stayed with me until the end of the race. We had an incredible night. I’m really proud of Ryan and the guys. They just got that car (Friday) at lunch time. They put the whole car together in a day.”

While Kreitz streaked away from the field Smith continued to battle Montieth for the runner-up spot.

The racing was tight in turn three as Smith finally secured second.

Kreitz picked up his second Grove win of the season over Smith, Montieth, Hodnett and Alan Krimes. Pat Cannon, Lance Dewease, Steve Buckwalter, Brent Marks and Paul McMahan completed sixth through 10th.

“The car was good, but I didn’t get going good enough on the start,” Smith said. “It’s a shame we had the yellow because I got going pretty good. I showed my nose and I knew I shouldn’t have, and he took my line away. It was an awesome night.”

Unofficially, Hodnett took over the championship point lead from Rahmer by 35 points.

Rahmer set fast time over the 40-car field with a lap of 17.225 seconds. Kreitz, Krimes, Hodnett and Montieth were the top five qualifiers.

Smith, Dewease, Buckwalter and Hodnett won the eight-lap heat races. Smith won the six-lap dash. Ryan Taylor won the B-main.