Marks, Hodnett capture checkers in twin 20s

MECHANICSBURG – Brent Marks and Greg Hodnett split the twin 20s for the super sprint cars Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway, and each pocketed $2,500 for the victories.

In the first race, Gerard McIntyre Jr. started on the pole and beat second-starter Marks into the first turn and controlled the early laps.

Pat Cannon, second-place point man Greg Hodnett and Lance Dewease followed on a fast racing surface.

The first caution flag of the race flew with seven laps completed when Ryan Wilson stopped on the backstretch.

McIntyre again led Marks and Cannon around the top side following the restart.

Marks closed on the leader with five laps to go as McIntyre reached a slower car. McIntyre hesitated heading into turn one trying to lap Scott Wilson and Marks took advantage of it.

Marks blasted by both McIntyre and Wilson to take the lead as they raced through the turns down the backstretch. He controlled the final laps to score his second Grove win of the season, seventh of his career, and fifth overall in 2014.

“My car stayed steady there and I really needed lapped traffic to help me out,” Marks said. “I thought I had the car free enough before we went out, but I didn’t. I was too tight on the right rear and I didn’t have enough gear to get me out of the tightness. When we were all in clean air, I just couldn’t catch up to him. I needed that lapped traffic and I didn’t want that first yellow because we were starting to gain on him.”

Marks got just what he wished for as they reached the tail end of the field late in the race.

“He went low and the 38 (Wilson) went low too,” he said. “I was lucky enough to scoot on by. Lucky for me, the lapped cars I gained on were running low and I was running high, so they kept that lane open for me. I just cruised around there. Getting a good invert and starting second really helped tonight for how wet the track is right now.”

McIntyre settled for second as Hodnett passed Cannon for third. Lance Dewease finished fifth. Point leader Donnie Kreitz, Adrian Shaffer, Stevie Smith, Ryan Smith and Adam Wilt completed the top 10.

Kreitz set fast time over the 26-car field with a lap of 16.537 seconds.

The top 12 qualifiers were locked into the first feature. The other cars were split into two qualifiers and they were won by Rick Lafferty and Doug Esh. Although Kreitz earned an extra $300 for his quick time, he drew the number eight pill for the inversion placing him outside row four to start the first race.

Kreitz started on the pole in the second race and grabbed the lead. A back and forth battle developed between Hodnett and Dewease for second as they swapped second at each end of the speedway several times before Hodnett secured the spot.

The top two men in the chase for the Grove title were about to battle for the lead. Hodnett was on Kreitz’s bumper at the flag stand and dove under Kreitz for the lead in turn one and took the lead.

The red flag flew with 11 laps completed when Marks flipped in turn on. He was not hurt.

Stevie Smith took third from Dewease on the restart as Hodnett got away from Kreitz.

Hodnett built his lead to a straightaway over Kreitz and got his third Grove win of the season. Kreitz, Smith, Dewease and Shaffer were in the top five. Smith, Esh, Wilt, Alan Krimes and Brian Montieth completed the top 10.

“Donnie was running a good, clean race out front,” Hodnett said. “I wasn’t running anywhere in particular, I was just floating around. I moved to the top and got a lot of momentum and starting catching him. I got a good run off the top and tried to slide him and it worked out. You can never count Donnie out, he’s too good. He’s been racing here a long time. We’re going to try and chip away at it and do the best we can every night.”

Notes: In light of the tragedy in New York last week when three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr., who was on foot after exiting his car following a crash, speedway officials told the drivers they must stay with their cars following an accident and not walk back to the pits or to confront another driver as Ward did to Stewart. … The Grove is celebrating its 75th anniversary season and the restored car that won the very first race in 1939 was brought to victory lane as many vintage race cars from the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing were on display. … Unofficially, Kreitz leads the points by 70 after going into the night with a 130-point lead.