Hodnett takes Bob Weikert Memorial
PORT ROYAL – Greg Hodnett was not going to be denied a win in the Bob Weikert Memorial Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway.
Despite several challenges from Dale Blaney in lapped traffic, Hodnett would eventually pull away to his fourth win in the event and third in his past four attempts.
The driver earned the base pay of $10,000, plus $2,900 for leading all 29 laps. In addition, he earned $500 for setting quick time for a grand total of $13,400.
The initial start was called back when polesitter Chad Layton jumped the start. This moved Blaney to the pole alongside Hodnett. Blaney would lead through turns one and two, but Hodnett shot off the top groove and drove into the lead down the back stretch.
“We had a good start and got out front and that was to our advantage,” said Hodnett. “Watering the track gave us a whole new life. I want to thank the track crew for trying to recover the track under really adverse conditions.”
It has been a work in progress this season with Hodnett and his new team.
“The guys have been working extremely hard and we’ve tried a lot of stuff,” said Hodnett. “It’s a different combination this year. It’s nice to put a whole night together.”
Hodnett held a slim lead when the only caution flag of the race flew on lap three when Danny Dietrich driving a replica Weikert’s Livestock No. 29 slowed to a stop.
Hodnett would run the top in turns one and two with Blaney right behind running the bottom. They would switch grooves in three and four with Hodnett low and Blaney high.
When Hodnett reached lapped traffic with 10 laps completed, Blaney was right there. Brent Marks was racing third and Shane Stewart fourth.
Blaney would momentarily take the lead off turn two in traffic, but Hodnett powered back around him to maintain first.
“I really screwed up there in traffic a couple times,” said Hodnett. “I got out of position and Dale was right there. I knew I had to get a couple of good corners after that to get some breathing room.”
Hodnett would do just that as he began to put some lapped cars between himself and Blaney.
Stewart would find some speed and drive by Marks for third and then drove around Blaney for the runner-up spot, but would slip high in turn two and lose those spots back a few laps later.
Hodnett would pull away from the battle for second over the final five laps and would get a very special first victory with car owner Mike Heffner.
“It’s an honor to win this race,” said Heffner. “Bob Weikert is someone I grew up admiring. As a car owner, I even admire him more for what he did for the sport.”
Blaney would nip Marks at the line to finish second.
“We were pretty equal there for a little bit,” said Blaney. “It was a fun race. Greg is a clean driver and he races hard.”
“The track, tonight, was awesome,” said Marks. “I’m just thrilled to actually finish a race. We’ve had really fast racecars this year, but terrible luck.”
Stewart would finish fourth in his first night out in the Kyle Larson/Justin Marks Racing No. 2. Danny Holtgraver raced from 10th to finish fifth.
Chad Layton, Lucas Wolfe, Mike Wagner, Ryan Smith and Logan Wagner completed the top 10. Hodnett set fast time over the 36-car field with a lap of 16.666 seconds.
The eight-lap heat races were won by Logan Wagner, Tim Shaffer, Pat Cannon and Mike Wagner. Layton won the six-lap dash. Dietrich won the B-main.
Andrew Yoder wired the field for his second victory in a row in the 355 econo late model division.
Yoder started second in the field and after numerous caution flags to start the 15-lap main event, he pulled away to a large lead and eventual victory.
Eric Irving rode home second followed by Ralph Morgan Jr., Tim Krape and Troy Miller.
Twin heats went to Bill Henney and Yoder.
Defending track champion Jason Zook held off the charges of Deron Henry to claim the xtreme stock feature event race. Bob Bussey raced home third followed by Craig Dodson and Pete Leister.