Selinsgrove PA Speedweek report 2002-07-07

Hodnett perfect in Speedweek finale; clinches career first Speedweek title; Hench wins Selinsgrove first in 358'S. SELINSGROVE, Pa. - Greg Hodnett of Memphis, TN, accomplished what he set out to do at the start of this year's 12th Annual...

Hodnett perfect in Speedweek finale; clinches career first Speedweek title; Hench wins Selinsgrove first in 358'S.

SELINSGROVE, Pa. - Greg Hodnett of Memphis, TN, accomplished what he set out to do at the start of this year's 12th Annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Pennsylvania Speedweek series. The 33-year-old professional race car driver clinched his first ever Speedweek title, ending the series with four wins in eight races Sunday night at Selinsgrove Speedway.

Hodnett turned in a perfect performance in the Selinsgrove finale when he set fast time (16.767), won his heat race and then drove to a convincing win in the 30-lap main event at the wheel of the Apple Motors/Cars By Dealers Magazine No. 12 owned by Bob Stewart.

The victory, worth $4,000, marked the third of his career at the Snyder County oval. Hodnett also collected the $500 "Hank's Perfect Performance" bonus from Hank's Performance Products, and the $100 bonus from Trackside Magazine for being the night's fast qualifier.

The event was also the second of four events scheduled at the track this season as part of the Middleswarth Potato Chips Susquehanna Valley 410 Sprint Car series. The next event in the series is the Labor Day Classic on Monday, September 2, and the series will conclude with the 20th Anniversary Alexander Family Dealerships National Open on September 14.

Jeff Goff, General Manager, Middleswarth Potato Chips, announced to the capacity crowd that a $20,000 Chip Challenge will be posted to commemorate the 20th edition of the track's 410 sprint car Open. If one of the front row starters options to start the main event last and can win the race, the driver will collect a cool $20,000 in the track's season finale.

Rick Hench of Newport powered to his first career 358 sprint car win at Selinsgrove Speedway. Hench, a former one-time winner at the track in 410 sprint car competition, became the division's eighth different feature winner to date.

Selinsgrove Speedway returns to racing action this Saturday, July 13 with PEPSI night, featuring a complete program of sprint cars (358's), late models, pro stocks and roadrunners at 7 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m.

On the first lap of the sprint car main event, polesitter Todd Gracey spun in front of the field in turns three and four. Miraculously, no other cars collided with Gracey's.

With Gracey restarting the race at the back of the starting lineup, original third-place starter Keith Kauffman found himself as the race's new polesitter.

Kauffman drove into the early-race lead with second-place starter Mike Erdley trailing him. Hodnett, who started the event in the eighth position, quickly stormed to the front of the pack, and on the fourth circuit motored by Kauffman for the lead with an inside pass in turn four.

Once in front, Hodnett streaked away from the field, while Kauffman and sixth-place starter Todd Shaffer dueled for the runner up position. At the same time, fifth-place starter Lance Dewease and 11th-place starter Fred Rahmer put on a show while racing for top five positions.

The caution flag unfurled on lap 26 when Shaffer's race car developed a flat tire. On the ensuing restart, the race was stopped for a three-car incident involving Josh Wells, Todd Hestor and Shawn Keen, who flipped over in his racer. No driver injuries were reported.

With several lapped cars separating Hodnett from Kauffman, Hodnett went uncontested to the victory. Kauffman held off late-race challenges from Rahmer for second. Rahmer, Dewease and Michael completed the top five.

In the 25-lap 358 sprint car feature, Jim Nace started on the pole and powered into the early lead. Outside front row starter Rick Hench made the winning pass using the inside line in turns three and four on the second circuit.

The event's first caution flag unfurled on lap eight when TJ Stutts brought his race car to a stop with a flat tire. At the same time, Saturday night's feature winner Adrian Shaffer, who was racing second, pulled off the track with a flat tire.

When the race resumed, Hench horsepowered his way around the halfmile in convincing fashion while Nace and third-place starter Nate Snyder competed for the second position.

On a lap 14 restart, Blane Heimbach and Joe Whitcomb collided in turn three; no driver injuries were reported. In the final laps, Hench stretched his lead over seventh-place starter Darren Eash, who found a lot of speed in his sprinter near the end of the event.

Eash, however, came up short, as Hench posted the win by more than straightaway over Eash, Nace, Snyder and eighth-place starter Chad Layton.

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Series Sprint