|05-16-2009, 05:22 AM||#1|
1200 Mini Sprint Correspondent
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Posts: 3,890Rep Power: 959
Hodnett Williams Grove WoO Sprints Winner
Friday, May 15, 2009
Greg Hodnett had not been to Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in nearly five years entering this week's event at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. He also hadn't reached the winner's circle at the famed half-mile since the 2007 campaign. He changed all of that, after battling Stevie Smith and Cody Darrah for the $10,000 top prize on Friday night, leading the final 10 laps to pick up the win.
For Hodnett, the 1993 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner, it was his seventh career A-Feature win with the World of Outlaws and his second with the series at Williams Grove Speedway.
“It has been a long, long time since I won an Outlaws race,” said Hodnett in Victory Lane. “Anytime you can win an Outlaws race is great and when you can win it in front of your home fans, it's even better. All the Pennsylvania guys did really well and we are proud of them. We are very fortunate to be standing up here.”
The race took three starts to get going, with Cody Darrah leading on the initial one with the first caution of the night flying before the lap was completed. On the next start it was Stevie Smith pacing the field into turn one, with the caution again flying. The third start saw Smith again dart to the lead over Darrah and quickly pull away.
On the opening lap, Hodnett got around Keith Kauffman to move into fourth after starting in the fifth position. Hodnett would eventually move into third when Ryan Bohlke fell out with mechanical problems on the 11th lap.
Smith found himself in lapped traffic seven laps into the race and was in heavy traffic on the 12th circuit when a caution flew, giving him clear track to operate with. Darrah looked high in turns one and two on the ensuing restart, but was not able to get enough momentum to make a move on the leader.
By the 17th lap the leaders were back in traffic and Darrah and Hodnett both closed in on Smith. For the next few laps the Top-three ran very close together. On the 21st lap, Hodnett got around Darrah for second and set his sights on Smith. The very next lap he took the lead from Smith on the bottom of turn three.
“I was moving around a little bit,” explained Hodnett. “I didn't know when the top was blown off enough. The top was pretty low all night and it really wasn't conducive to run the bottom early. For whatever reason it started getting crumbly off of (turn) two and off of (turn) four. I started getting better drive when I was waiting on it and running the bottom. I just kind of did what the car told me and fortunate for us we are in Victory Lane.”
On the white flag lap, the red flag flew for Lance Dewease who got upside. Since the lap was not complete, a restart was in order and by way of World of Outlaws rules, two full laps had to be completed in succession to end the race, thus extending it to 31 laps. Hodnett wound up leading the final 10 circuits aboard the Macri Concrete JEI.
“We were pretty good and had a good drive off, so if I covered the bottom I figured I would all right,” noted Hodnett of the green/white/checker finish. “I knew Cody (Darrah) was hauling it in a little harder than us, but I knew we had good drive off (the turn). I just tried to calm down and keep it underneath me.”
Darrah picked up his best career finish with the World of Outlaws coming home second aboard the J&K Salvage Maxim. After starting on the front row in the main event, he dropped to third after Hodnett got around, but he battled back and took the runner-up spot back from Smith late in the going.
“Second is really not that bad at the end of the day,” said Darrah. “On the restarts the motor stumbled a little bit and that kind of put me behind getting into (turn) one. Halfway through the feature I was running the top and getting a little loose and Greg (Hodnett) got by us both. We're looking forward to getting this momentum going and keeping it.”
For Darrah, it was his second consecutive strong finish with the World of Outlaws, as he was seventh in his debut at Eldora Speedway last weekend. He continues to hone his skills against strong fields of cars each week, wherever he races.
“It gives you the feeling to be able to run it in harder,” he said of running up front. “This is awesome. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was beaten pretty hard with my confidence. We're building it as we're going and it's definitely helping.”
Smith wound up leading 21 laps after winning the Crane Cams Dash to start on the pole in the Zemco Speed Equipment Maxim He ended up third when final checkered flag flew. It was his third Top-Five finish in five events with the World of Outlaws in 2009.
“We've had a good year so far and have just been struggling in the last half of the features here (at Williams Grove),” said Smith. “We'll try to get better. The car is pretty nice right now and gets around here well, we just have to get it better later in the feature.”
Dave Ely scored his best career World of Outlaws finish on Friday night coming home fourth in the Shawn Martin Agency State Farm Insurance Wolfweld.
Donny Schatz, the three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, came all the way from the 23rd starting spot to finish fifth in the Armor All J&J. He extended his lead in the championship standings to 39 points, after Steve Kinser had engines troubles that ended his night early. The pair was separated by just a single point entering the night.
“We had something happen at Delaware and didn't find it until after the B-Main (tonight),” shared Schatz. “It's a shame, but I guess you'll have nights like that. Once we got everything lined out, starting 23rd and running fifth here is not bad. 30 laps was a short race and we'll come back here in the fall and have 40 in the National Open and that's another ball game. It's a good machine to be driving and I can't wait to get here.”
Daryn Pittman came from 18th to finish sixth in the Pete's Bridge Street Motors Maxim, with Todd Shaffer seventh aboard the McCoy Bros. Construction JEI. Fred Rahmer came from the 28th starting spot to finish ninth and pick up the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award in the Miller Bros. J&J. Keith Kauffman rounded out the Top-10 in the Middleswarth Chips J&J.
A Feature Finish
1) 22H-Greg Hodnett
2) 89-Cody Darrah
3) 1-Stevie Smith
4) 75-Dave Ely
5) 15-Donny Schatz
6) 25-Daryn Pittman
7) 88-Todd Shaffer
8) 21-Brian Montieth
9) 51-Fred Rahmer
10) 7-Keith Kauffman
11) 14-Jason Meyers
12) 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.
13) 6N-Kevin Nouse
14) 8M-Chris Meleason
15) 39-Doug Esh
16) R19-Jac Haudenschild
17) 71-Brian Leppo
18) 9-Joey Saldana
19) 5W-Lucas Wolfe
20) 17B-Steve Buckwalter
21) 55-Chad Layton
22) 15A-Adam Wilt
23) 30C-Lance Dewease
24) 11-Steve Kinser
25) 19-Craig Dollansky
26) 18-Ryan Bahlke
27) 11E-Mike Erdley
28) 7M-Mark Smith
The World of Outlaws return to action Friday, May 22 at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The event will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.