$50,000 to win National Open Next Saturday
Hodnett’s third Grove win of the season was worth $4,000 in the Mike Heffner-owned No. 27, but it wasn’t easy as he had constant pressure from Lance Dewease over the final half of the 25-lap main event.
“I could hear him pushing us around,” said Hodnett about Dewease. “I wasn’t very good off of two no matter what I was doing. In three and four, I couldn’t get stuck again to either go across or hit the bottom. He almost drove by me in three and four the one time. I figured I’d better get going and see if I could hold him off for a couple laps.”
Hodnett, of Spring Grove, started on the pole and beat Brian Brown into the first turn on the opening lap to take the lead. Dewease started fourth and passed Brown taking second on the second lap.
As Dewease stalked Hodnett, Brown and James McFadden traded the third spot and eighth starter Lucas Wolfe passed Matt Campbell taking fifth.
Hodnett’s lead was 1.903 when they reached slower traffic at the back of the field with seven laps completed.
The heavy lapped traffic helped Dewease cut Hodnett’s lead in half in only one lap. Dewease ducked low on Hodnett, but Hodnett maintained the lead by about a half-second.
Dewease took another shot at Hodnett, but wasn’t able to seal the deal as the drivers ranked second and third on the all-time Grove win list continued to battle for the win.
“If he could have beat me to the cushion it would have been his easily,” said Hodnett, who starts on the pole of the postponed Summer Nationals feature Thursday night. “Lance is not going to crash himself or me because we know we’ve got to race tomorrow and race next week. This is more of an organized hot lap session than anything for us. Although it’s nice to win and be competitive. We also know there’s bigger fish to fry here in the next couple weeks. He had a huge run coming off four and tried to take that shot. Honestly, if he would have been about two feet in front of us then I would have backed off and let him go, but fortunately we had a lot of momentum coming off the top.”
Hodnett stayed in front of Dewease as they both switched lanes working through lapped traffic. The last five laps saw Dewease challenge Hodnett again on the low side, but Hodnett switched to the bottom groove to take away Dewease’s preferred line.
Hodnett cleared one final lapped car off turn two on the last lap securing the win by 0.803 over Dewease.
“It’s a good thing it wasn’t 30 laps that’s all I can say,” said Hodnett.
Wolfe passed Brown to finish third. Point leader Freddie Rahmer raced from 10th to fifth. McFadden, Campbell, Kerry Madsen, Brian Montieth and 20th starter Danny Dietrich rounded out the top 10. The non-stop time was 8:34.
TJ Stutts set fast time over the 29-car field with a lap of 16.941. Stutts, Hodnett and James McFadden won the eight-lap heat races. Hodnett passed Brown on the final lap to win the dash. Anthony Macri won the B-main.
Scott Fisher led all 20 laps winning the 358-Sprint feature. Track champion Kevin Nouse started 12th and finished a close second. Kyle Denmyer, Chris Frank and Chase Dietz completed the top five. Steve Owings, Brett Wanner, Nyle Berkes, Troy Wagaman Jr. and Steve Drevicki rounded out the top 10.
“The way this year went, we really, really needed this,” said Fisher.
Kyle Denmyer, Brett Wanner and Kevin Nouse won the 358 heats.
Sprint Car Feature (25 laps): 1. Greg Hodnett. 2. Lance Dewease. 3. Lucas Wolfe. 4. Brian Brown. 5. Freddie Rahmer. 6. James McFadden. 7. Matt Campbell. 8. Kerry Madsen. 9. Brian Montieth. 10. Danny Dietrich. 11. TJ Stutts. 12. Alan Krimes. 13. Dale Blaney. 14. Trey Starks. 15. Cory Haas. 16. Brock Zearfoss. 17. Dave Blaney. 18. Rodney Westhafer. 19. Steve Buckwalter. 20. Anthony Macri. 21. Chad Trout. 22. Chris Arnold. 23. Tim Wagaman. 24. Jordan Givler.
Did Not Qualify: Nicole Bower, Troy Fraker, Jay Galloway, Tim Kaeding, Jay Reichard
358 Sprint Feature (20 laps): 1. Scott Fisher; 2. Kevin Nouse; 3. Kyle Denmyer; 4. Chris Frank; 5. Chase Dietz; 6. Steve Owings; 7. Brett Wanner; 8. Nyle Berkes; 9. Troy Wagaman Jr.; 10. Steven Drevicki; 11. Brent Shearer; 12. J.B. Cunningham; 13. Cody Fletcher; 14. Dwight Leppo; 15. Shai Morris; 16. Jake Eldreth; 17. Rich Eichelberger; 18. Barry Shearer; 19. Michael Hamer; 20. Matt Findley; 21. Hank Donovan Jr.; 22. Brie Hershey; 23. Chad Trout; 24. T.J. DeHaven.
Did Not Qualify: Chris Priar, Kenny Kuhn, Jake Galloway.