Hodnett Out Runs Rahmer To Early Bird Championship Win At Williams Grove MECHANICSBURG, PA, 4/13/01 - I was only a matter of time. Since his return to Central Pennsylvania racing this season, Memphis, Tennessee's Greg Hodnett and his Apple ...
Hodnett Out Runs Rahmer To Early Bird Championship Win At Williams Grove
MECHANICSBURG, PA, 4/13/01 - I was only a matter of time.
Since his return to Central Pennsylvania racing this season, Memphis, Tennessee's Greg Hodnett and his Apple Motorsports Team had been searching for that first win.
The key words after Friday night was - "had been searching". After struggling with set-ups, bad luck, and a few bad crashes, the search was finally over.
Hodnett grabbed the lead from his pole position at the drop of the green and out-ran four-time track champ Fred Rahmer over the race's final 22 laps to win the lucrative 30-lap Early Bird Championship at Williams Grove Friday night. And with the win, became the sixth different winner in six races this season at the historic Mechanicsburg half-mile.
"It feels a lot better than it has the last few weeks I can tell you that," said Hodnett. "The guys have been working there tails off, we crashed a couple cars...this Apple Chevrolet Cars by Dealers, Rudisill Auto Body Maxim has really done a good job for us."
"You can make or break yourself with these things. I kind of think we over thought ourselves for the last few weeks and kind of went back to basics and it seems to have worked out very well."
Hodnett's $6,000 victory from the pole was not an easy one. Hodnett had to race through heavy lapped traffic with Rahmer on his tail over the closing stages of the race, and endured a final two-lap dash to take the checkered 1.79 seconds ahead of the Salfordville racer for his seventh career Williams Grove victory.
"I think we're going to be around here quite a bit," said Hodnett on the teams plans this season. "We want to run up front every day but the competition here every week here is something...thank god for a safe race and hopefully he'll let us win a few more here this year."
After qualifying sixth quick in time trails, Hodnett finally got a dose of good luck as fast timer Dave Ely picked the number six for the feature inversion which placed Hodnett on the pole for the first Diamond Series race of the season a Williams Grove.
Hodnett out-raced fellow frontrow starter Sean Michael though the first and second turns at the drop of the green for the lead. Just before the race's first caution on the fifth lap for a James Chesson spin in the third and fourth turns, Rahmer (who started seventh) slipped into third place.
The restart saw Hodnett get a good jump on second place Michael as the Allentown fireman immediately had to contend with Rahmer for the runner-up spot. Rahmer secured second place by the seventh lap as Hodnett streaked out to a 2.08 second lead.
And the chase was on.
Hodnett, continually reminded by the third turn scoreboard that Rahmer was in second place, streaked around the cushion lap after lap and opened up a 3.56 second lead by the time he began to head into lapped traffic on the 10th lap. A battle between Mark Smith and Mike Wagner for position in front of Hodnett allowed Rahmer to slowly close on the former World of Outlaw racer and had narrowed the gap to less than one second with 10 laps to go.
A daring move between Wagner and Smith entering the third turn allowed Hodnett to momentarily streak away as Rahmer now had to contend with the same lapped cars.
"I got up behind Mike (Wagner) and I didn't get all the way in front of him so I wanted to leave him some room," Hodnett said. "Then I had to race him for six or seven laps...I didn't want to make that mistake again so I blew right past him there and made him shut down."
Just when it appeared Hodnett the victory in hand, the action came to a halt with two laps to go when Brook Weibley erupted a motor in a ball of flames in the third and fourth turns. The fire, which was quickly extinguished but leaving Weibley with slightly burned ankles, allow the crews one last chance for some final changes for the two lap dash to the checkered.
"We tightened up the car a little bit," said Hodnett on the changes they made under the stoppage of action with two laps to go. "We were a little loose when I tried to go in under and they said Fred (Rahmer) had been going kind of through the middle and bottom so I wanted to be able to block if I had to go through the middle."
"But the way it turned out we had a couple of lapped car in there. The way they start now on the frontstretch it gave me an extra lap or so to free myself."
A lapped car between himself and Rahmer on the restart allowed the Tennessee racer to race away over the final two laps to notch his second overall win of the season.
"Fred (Rahmer), Lance (Dewease), Cris (Eash), Donnie (Kreitz) and Kauffman...I'll tell you what, these guys are good," Hodnett pointed out. "If anybody says anything else...they are the best in the business and I'm very proud to run against them on a full time basis."
Rahmer, who is seeking his first win at Williams Grove this season while trying to win a record-tying fifth consecutive track champion settled for second, with Sean Michael third, Donnie Kreitz Jr. fourth, and Lance Dewease fifth.
Completing the top-10 were Keith Kauffman, Ely, last weeks winner Curt Michael, Cris Eash, and Billy Pauch .
Fast time for the 33 sprinters on hand was set by Dave Ely with a one-lap time of 17.13 seconds. Heats were won by Billy Pauch, Mike Erdley, and Johnny Mackison Jr., with Rahmer winning the B-Main.