Hodnett holds off Weibley in Lincoln sprint main; Darren Eash goes wire-to-wire in 358's; Tuckey claims first of year in thundercars. ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 4/20/02 - Tennessee commuter Greg Hodnett continued his strong early-season run at Lincoln ...
Hodnett holds off Weibley in Lincoln sprint main; Darren Eash goes wire-to-wire in 358's; Tuckey claims first of year in thundercars.
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA, 4/20/02 - Tennessee commuter Greg Hodnett continued his strong early-season run at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night, joining Fred Rahmer and Keith Kauffman as a two-time 2002 winner in the Pigeon Hills.
And while it looked like he would dominate at mid-race, Hodnett had to rally to hold off a charging Brook Weibley at the end.
"Brook was really giving me fits there," said Hodnett upon exiting his winning Apple Motorsports/Cars By Dealers Magazine No.12 sprinter, "We got into traffic and I was trying to be careful, and I just got a little too slow. He did a great job. He was working well on the bottom and I was kind of stuck around the top, and that's what we'd planned on doing. He was right there the whole time...he could actually get on the throttle sooner than I could. I just had a little bit more momentum."
Hodnett started sixth and drove the top into third by the end of the first lap. A tangle involving Rick Lafferty and Dan Shetler on turn four of the second lap was the only caution of the race. The final 24 laps went non-stop, with Hodnett watching Bobby Weaver and Todd Gracey battle for the lead on laps two through four, and then driving around Gracey for the runner-up spot on lap five. Hodnett pulled alongside Weaver as the two crossed the flag stand to complete lap six, and then pulled the slider to take the lead in the third and fourth turns of lap seven.
When the leaders entered lapped traffic on lap eight, Weibley was running fourth. Weibley slid under Gracey for third on lap nine, then took second from Weaver on lap 12. At the time, Weibley was nearly two seconds behind. He narrowed the lead to 1.42 seconds by lap 16, and cut the deficit to three-quarters of a second by lap 20. A lap later, Weibley pulled alongside Hodnett in turns one and two as the leaders raced through heavy lapped traffic. Weibley actually grabbed the lead on the backstretch of lap 23 when he used lapped cars as a pick to edge ahead, only to have Hodnett drive around exiting the turn. The two then raced wheel-to-wheel until Hodnett used two lapped cars as blockers when the leaders entered the first turn of lap 24.
"There was actually two lapped cars, one right in middle, and one on the bottom, and the whole outside was clear. He went to the bottom and those guys stopped in front of him and that allowed us to get a bit of some breathing room and just let it hang out the last two laps to see what would happen."
"I heard him there for about four laps before he actually got under us down here," said Hodnett on the hectic run through lapped traffic. "Traffic just happened to work in our favor, but they were really good on the bottom. He gave us a really good scare."
Hodnett's final margin of victory was 1.45 seconds.
Weibley settled for a well-earned second place finish, with Weaver finishing third, Fred Rahmer fourth, and Cris Eash fifth.
"The guys did a great job, the Apple Chevrolet Cars by Dealers Team, This is more wins here than I had in my lifetime, so we'll take it."
While the $2,500 win was his second of the season, it was only his third career win in the Pigeon Hills.
Completing the top-10 was Chris Knopp, Keith Kauffman, Johnny Mackison Jr., Lance Dewease, and Gracey.
"The car was working pretty good, we were fortunate to start a little bit closer to the front than a lot of the guys and we took advantage of it."
"When I first got here we won a lot of big races and were going pretty good," reflected Hodnett on his career as a member of the Pennsylvania Posse. "Last year we really struggled, I'll be honest with you...we were pretty bad."
"Right now the car is rolling pretty good. We've worked with the tires for a year and that seems to help out a great deal when you can rely on your manufacturers like we do - Hoosier - and they give us a lot of information and we use it to the best of our ability. And it's paid off right now."
"I'm looking forward to it," said Hodnett on taking on the All Star Circuit of Champions at Lincoln in two weeks. "We haven't done traditionally done very well, but with it being a qualifying show we're going to try and take advantage of it a little bit because I enjoy qualifying. My game gets really fired up for it. So if we can keep this Maxim, Don Ott Engine, towards the front maybe we'll have a chance."
Heats for the 26 super sprints on hand were won by Dewease, Hodnett, and Gracey, with Billy Sims winning the consolation.
Ijamsville, Maryland's Darren Eash grabbed the lead from his pole starting position and simply over-powered the field to pick up his first 358 sprint win of the season in the Roy Vincent No.7E.
Eash was fortunate the start on the front row for more reasons than one. A first-lap crash involved eight cars, one of which was a flipping Dan Dietrich, who barrel rolled after being collected by a spinning Stacey Eastwood.
Numerous battles took place behind Eash, with Adrian Shaffer and Tony Strine tangled while racing for third on the first and second turns of lap 12, sending both to the rear. Opening night winner Chad Trout was collected in the first lap crash, and spun twice more on laps 12 and 13.
Cory Haas ran a strong race to finish second 1.14 seconds behind Eash, with Jake Raudabaugh, Scott Ausherman, and Dale Hammaker completing the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Alan Krimes, Billy Dietrich (who was also involved in the opening lap crash and came from the rear), Eric Stambaugh (who started 17th), 20th-starting Brian Leppo, and Keith Prutzman. Heats for the 35 "358" sprints on hand were won by Eash, Strine, and Greg Leiby, with Jerry Stinson winning the consolation.
Biglerville's Nat Tuckey became the sixth different winner in thundercar action by winning the 20 lap thundercar feature. Tuckey, who started fourth, drove past polesitter Randy Doty and outside frontrow starter Greg Feltch to grab the lead at the outset. Mike Zeigler Sr. drove into second on the second lap and dogged Tuckey the entire distance. In the waning laps point-leader Bernie Beard entered the fray and made it a three-car battle for the lead with two lap to go. Tuckey was able to run the high groove to victory, the fifth of his career by .28 seconds over Zeigler Sr.. Beard settled for third, with Zeigler Jr. fourth, and Greg Messersmith fifth. Heats for the 29 thundercars were won by Craig Wagaman, Tuckey, and Bobby Rudisill.
Next week, Saturday, April 27th, Lincoln Speedway will host another super sprint, 358 sprint, and thundercar racing program. Joining them will be the Williams Grove Old Timers. Gates will open at 5 PM, with hot laps at 6:30 PM, and the first heat getting underway at 7 PM.