Kreitz beats Montieth by a hair for Grove win

MECHANICSBURG – Donnie Kreitz didn’t even know he won the sprint car feature Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway. He thought his pass of Brian Montieth at the flagstand was for third.

But, as it turns out, that pass was for the win, and by the slimmest of margins.

The four-time track champion’s 59th career Grove win ended up being worth $4,310 with the base purse and bonus money.

“I thought I was passing him for third coming to the line,” Kreitz said. “I didn’t know we won.”

Kreitz, of Sinking Spring, was a straightaway behind when he took second with five laps to go.

“Davey (Brown) did a heck of a job with the car tonight,” Kreitz said. “I’m shocked. I’m really happy to just get one win. I’m so happy with the way the year is going.”

Kreitz extended his point lead with the victory.

“It was unexpected,” he said. “Even after we took the checkered and I’m going down the backstretch, they were saying on the radio ’69K’, ’21’ and I’m thinking, ‘I wonder why they said me first?’ Then I look up on the (score) board and seen we were first. I was shocked. If I would have known it was for the win, I probably would have screwed up and wouldn’t have got him.”

Opening night winner Gerard McIntyre Jr. slowed on the frontstretch with a flat right rear tire on the initial start of the 25-lap main event.

On the second start, Montieth grabbed the early race lead over Justin Barger and Cory Haas.

While Montieth pulled away to a huge lead, Haas worked his way past Barger and into second.

Kreitz started seventh and drove by Rick Lafferty and into the fifth spot as Montieth and Haas streaked away from the field and around lapped cars. Kreitz continued his march toward the front as he passed rookie Austin Hogue for fourth with 10 laps completed.

Kreitz and last week’s winner Steve Buckwalter passed Barger for third and fourth, respectively. Montieth, meanwhile, was nearly a half-track ahead and in heavy lapped traffic with seven laps to go.

Kreitz caught Haas and drove into second with an inside move off turn two, but was a straightaway behind the leader, who was racing around heavy traffic.

It appeared as if the race for the win might be over, but it wasn’t as Kreitz gained dramatically on Montieth over the final laps.

Montieth dropped to the bottom in turns three and four to block Kreitz, but it didn’t matter as Kreitz went lower yet. They were side-by-side as they raced down the frontstretch as Kreitz got the win by a scant 0.01 seconds thanks to the electronic scoring system.

“That’s a heartbreaker for Montieth,” Kreitz said. “I didn’t know it was for the win. I thought I beat him to the line, but you never really know. That’s cool. That’s a really close finish. That’s cutting it too close.”

Buckwalter passed Haas to follow up his win with a solid third-place effort. Haas, who was second last week, finished fourth and Barger rounded out the top five. Ryan Smith, Greg Hodnett, Rick Lafferty, Lance Dewease and Doug Esh completed the top 10.

Buckwalter, Lafferty and Kreitz won the 10-lap heat races for the 28-car field of sprint cars.

Notes: Jimmy Seger, 26, of Morrisdale, Clearfield County, was air-lifted from the speedway following a vicious third turn crash during the first set of 410 sprint car practice laps.

Wellsville’s Ryan Slothower hit the inside backstretch guardrail just as he was about to enter turn three. His car shot back into traffic and was airborne.

Seger crashed hard into Slothower’s car while it was in the air. The hit destroyed Seger’s top wing and severely bent the top and side of the frame. Seger’s car never flipped and drifted to a stop at the top of the third turn. He had to be cut from the car, but speedway officials reported he was conscious.

Slothower was not injured and reported that his steering wheel came off causing him to lose control at the end of the backstretch.

Both drivers were making their season debuts at the speedway.