Central Pennsylvania race report 2002-03-30

Weekend Central PA. auto racing. Changes make Hodnett two-time weekend winner ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 3/30/02 - A sign of a great race team is in the fact that they are always look for ways to be better. Head wrench Lee Stauffer and the Apple...

Weekend Central PA. auto racing.
Changes make Hodnett two-time weekend winner

ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 3/30/02 - A sign of a great race team is in the fact that they are always look for ways to be better. Head wrench Lee Stauffer and the Apple Motorsports Team did just that this past weekend. Memphis Tennessee's Greg Hodnett drove the Bob Stewart-owned No.12 sprinter to it's finest weekend in years as he claimed his second win of the weekend by besting a stellar field of sprint car stars in Saturday's night's 25-lap super sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway. The win came on the heels of his Early Bird Championship win the night before at Williams Grove.

"After seeing Keith (Kauffman) carry so much speed into the corners last week we changed a few things to make it better," Hodnett said. "Last week it was a total domination by Keith, and today he was awesome...we're just very fortunate to be standing up here with guys like him and all the other guys we race against every week."

It's a very tough circuit here in Pennsylvania and I'm very blessed to be here with a the team I'm with. I know you guys are getting your monies worth I can tell you that."

Handicapping started Hodnett fourth in a feature lineup that saw points leader Fred Rahmer starting 18th, Lance Dewease starting 15th, and two-time Lincoln winner Keith Kauffman starting 12th. Other headliners starting behind row six included James Chesson (19th), Kasey Kahne (20th), and Sean Michael (21st).

Hodnett raced around Mark Smith for third on the first lap, squeezed by polesitter Doug Esh on lap three, and pulled the slider on leader Todd Gracey exiting the fourth turn of lap four to take the race lead. Despite two caution flags and a red for a flipping Fred Rahmer on lap 17, Hodnett had little pressure the rest of the way.

Rahmer's crash occurred when he and Todd Shaffer made contact with the lapped car of Michael Markey in turn two. Rahmer was uninjured. Shaffer lost his front wing, but was able to continue.

While Hodnett was clearly the class of the field, Mark Smith was running the race of his Lincoln career to nail down a second-place finish, with Steve Siegel scored third the final 14 laps. Dewease advanced 11 spots to finish fourth, with Jeff Shepard crossing fifth in his final race in the Tanger 07 sprinter.

"Normally I pretty much stink this place up, I'll be honest with you," Hodnett added. "We'll take this, it's been a long time since I've won here, almost two years...we were very fortunate to start towards the front and took advantage of it."

"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it."

Completing the top ten were Johnny Mackison, Jr., Kauffman, Cris Eash, Kahne, and Shaffer.

The $2,500 victory was Hodnett's third overall this season after claiming two wins at Williams Grove, including Friday night's Early Bird Championship.

Strinestown's Gary Potts became the fifth different winner in as many races in the thundercar division. Potts swapped the lead with Mike Zeigler, Jr. through the mid-stages of the race and survived a three-lap dash to the checkered (after a caution flag brought out by his brother Mike) to win the 18th Lincoln race of his career. The final margin of victory was 1.26 seconds over Zeigler, Jr., with Steve Clabaugh, early race leader Nat Tuckey, and points leader Bernie Beard completing the top five.

The vintage cars ran 12-lap features in two divisions. Sinking Springs' Stew Wenrich ran away from the field in his 1965 Mustang to win the sportsman feature, and James Creek's Lloyd Hockenberry won the modified feature in his 1970 Gremlin powered by a 350 cubic-inch Chevy engine.

EARLY BIRD CHAMPIONSHIP WORTH $6000 TO GREG HODNETT

Greg Hodnett rolled to his second consecutive Early Bird Sprint Car Championship victory Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway.

After taking the lead from P. J. Chesson at the half way point of the 30-lap test Hodnett was forced to hold off a late race bid from the youthful New Jersey charger.

Chesson beat Dave Ely into the first corner at the start and set the pace through the first 13 laps until he clipped the backstretch guard rail allowing Hodnett, who started fourth, to get by. A Mark Smith spin brought out a caution flag and gave the lead back to Chesson.

On the 15th lap Hodnett drove to the inside of Chesson through turns three and four. They raced side by side, with only inches separating their cars, until Hodnett took control exiting the corner. He began to stretch his lead until the final five laps when Chesson started to close. But the former one-lap track record holder ran out of time.

Hodnett earned $6000 from a purse of nearly $30,000 for his ninth career victory at Williams Grove and his second of the season. The 32-year old Memphis pro also became the first driver to repeat at the Grove this year.

Chesson earned $4000 for his performance. Lance Dewease came from the ninth starting position to finish third ahead of NASCAR Busch Grand National rookie Kasey Kahne. Modified racing's superstar Bully Pauch completed the top five. Sean Michael, Cindy Rowe Auto Glass point leader Keith Kauffman, Todd Hestor, Todd Shaffer and Ohio invader Jim Nier finished in positions six through ten respectively.

In a rare occurrence, three drivers tied for fast time in qualifications for the 34-car field and all three are now listed as the new one-lap track record holders. Kahne, 22, of Enumclaw, Washington, was the first to lower P. J. Chesson's previous mark of 16.588 set last September. Kahne's new standard of 16.51 seconds was later matched by James Chesson and Hodnett.

SHUTTLESWORTH REBOUNDS FROM BAD CRASH WITH SPORTSMAN WIN

One week ago Wellsville's Jim Shuttlesworth left Silver Spring Speedway with a bent up race car and a sore body following a backstretch crash. This week, Shuttlesworth started 9th and tracked down opening day winner Rich Eichelberger in lapped traffic to take the lead on the 21st lap and went on to win the non-stop 25-lap super sportsman feature at Silver Spring Speedway for his 101st career feature win - the 9th in a super sportsman.

"It's a relief to know you can do what we did," said Shuttlesworth. "We made some junk last week...this is the same car."

"If anybody, when I started racing, would have said I would win 100 races, 'I would have said 'no way," Shuttlesworth added. "Just to win one was what I always wanted to do. I've had a lot of good people that I've raced with and we work hard. The credit goes to getting your car better. The week before the 100-lapper last year we found a good combination."

Eichelberger settled for second, Frankie Herr third, Larry Jackson fourth, and J.R. Fry fifth.

KAUFFMAN WINS PORT ROYAL OPENER

Mifflintown's Keith Kauffman continued his early season success by winning Port Royal's season-opening 25 lap super sprint feature Saturday afternoon. Kauffman passed Fred Rahmer following an eighth lap caution restart and led the rest of the way for his fourth overall Central Pennsylvania win in 2002 over Todd Shaffer and Fred Rahmer.

Jason Schmidt of Lewistown won the opening Pro Stock feature event.

GARY STUHLER PICKS UP 100TH LATE MODEL WIN AT HAGERSTOWN

Greencastle veteran Gary Stuhler fought off Davey Johnson early in the race to lead every lap and captured his milestone 100th career win in the 25-lap ITSI late model feature at Hagerstown Speedway Saturday.

"Its really good to be here. I knew Davey (Johnson) would be hard to beat and DJ (Myers) was right behind me there at the end." said Stuhler. "We've had a lot of good car owners over the years and I want to thank Glenn (Ninninger) for the ride tonight."

Stuhler and Davey Johnson took the green from the front row with Stuhler edging out in front for the lead. Johnson pulled even with Stuhler several times the first four laps before Stuhler moved out in front for good. Stuhler picked up his second win of the year by eight car lengths over DJ Myers and Johnson.

Gary Tomkins of Clifton Springs NY, made his first visit to the Hagerstown Speedway for the Modified Super DIRT Series a good one as he beat the best in the business winning his first Super Dirt Series race on Saturday night.

Tomkins started 18th in the 30-car field and tracked down Bob McCreadie by the 45th lap to take the lead and led the rest of the way to pick-up the biggest win of his career. Tompkins pocketed $6,000 for the win.

DEFENDING CHAMP HEISTAND 600CC MICRO WINNER

Manheim's Drew Heistand has had enough bad luck so far in 2002 for an entire season, ironic because he had won the 600cc winged sprint track championship at Trail-Way Speedway last year. However, there were no gremlins stalking him on Saturday, when he drove away from the outside pole and won the 20-lap feature for his first checkered flag of the season at the Adams County oval.

In other action, Fredericksburg's Ed Hollenbach led the entire way to win the 4-cylinder stock feature. Dan Hageman of Lanoka Harbor, N.J., won the modified light feature. Wesley Kellison took the 112-inches-and-up wheelbase figure-8 feature and Tom Paracello won the 111-inches-and-less wheelbase figure-8 race.

Brad Kress won the first-ever scramble car road course feature for 4-cylinder cars.

-bill meyer-

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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Kasey Kahne , James Chesson
Teams Williams