Hodnett wins at Grove

MECHANICSBURG – Greg Hodnett passed Shane Stewart late in the race and went on to win the sprint car feature Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway.

Hodnett’s first Grove win of the season, and first in Mike Heffner’s No. 27, was worth $4,000 in the final tune-up race before next week’s visit by the World of Outlaw sprint cars.

His crew went to work on the car after a sub-par heat race performance.

“We changed everything but the driver basically,” Hodnett said. “I was trying to get the thing moving. It was a lot better. We keep trying different combinations. We’re not bad. I think we can be better. We’ve just got to keep working. We’re still learning together and learning what this thing wants. We haven’t quite got there yet.”

Donnie Kreitz started on the pole and jumped into the lead at the start. Stewart blasted by on the outside off turn two and led down the backstretch. Hodnett, of Thomasville, challenged Kreitz for the runner-up spot as Stewart built a comfortable lead.

The first caution flag of the race flew on lap five when Brian Montieth rolled to a stop in turn two with rear-end problems.

On the restart, Stewart pulled away from the second place battle. Kreitz switched to a higher lane, but Hodnett got enough momentum off four to drive into second.

Rick Lafferty and Gerard McIntyre Jr. made contact in turn three and Lafferty flipped, bringing out the red flag with eight laps completed. He was okay.

Stewart slipped out of the bottom groove in turn three allowing Hodnett – who was running the top – to close. Doug Esh drove by Kreitz and into third.

Hodnett was on his bumper at the flagstand with 13 down. Hodnett drove under him in turn one and they would swap the lead with Stewart retaining the top spot off turn two.

Hodnett turned under Stewart again in turn one, but didn’t try to slide in front of him. Hodnett was glued to the leader’s bumper again on lap 15. Stewart led again off the top of turn two, but Hodnett was in better position this time entering turn three. Stewart tried the middle, but Hodnett used the top to drive by and into the lead on lap 16.

“He kept running the middle and burning his tires off,” Hodnett said of Stewart. “I got under him in turns one and two a couple of times. I was able to get enough momentum to get by him.”

Hodnett, Stewart and Esh were all on the top after the pass. Stewart jumped the first turn cushion allowing Esh and Kreitz to drive by.

Hodnett began to pass slower cars with six laps to go as Esh and Kreitz stayed within striking distance.

Stewart hit the third turn fence and lost more spots with four laps left.

Hodnett cleared two lapped cars as they raced under the white flag to secure his win as Esh extended his point lead with a runner up finish.

Kreitz, Ryan Smith and Lance Dewease rounded out the top five and Danny Dietrich, Stewart, Mark Smith, Adam Wilt and Lucas Wolfe completed the top 10.

Former speedway regular Lucas Wolfe set fast time over the 31-field with a lap of 16.728. Donnie Kreitz, Lance Dewease and Rodney Westhafer won the eight-lap heat races. Kreitz won the dash and Rick Lafferty won the B-main.

After dropping out with an overheating engine two weeks ago while leading, Phil Walter once again found himself at the front of the 358 sprint car feature.

Following a mid-race restart, defending champion Kevin Nouse was up to second and challenged Walter until finally taking the lead in turn two, Walter took the lead back momentarily in turn three, but Nouse drove by again and led with five to go.

Nouse scored his second win of the season and second straight. Walter settled for second ahead of Matt Campbell, Adrian Shaffer and Kody Lehman.

The 358 sprint car heats were won by Nouse, Doug Hammaker and Campbell for the 22-car field.