by Brad Vores for The Sentinel
Greg Hodnett has been consistently fast all season long in his first season driving for car owner Mike Heffner.
But that first win as a team has eluded them despite many top five finishes heading into Saturday night’s All-Star Circuit of Champions sanctioned Bob Weikert Memorial at Port Royal Speedway.
The Thomasville driver started second and got the jump at the start and then came out on top of a close four car battle to score his first win with Heffner and his fourth career Weikert Memorial feature win.
“We’re still not as good as we can be, but I guess we didn’t suck as bad as I thought,” said Hodnett after earning $13,400 which included $10,000 for the 29-lap feature win, $290 in lap money and $500 for the fast time award. “Them watering the track gave us a whole new life so I’ve got to thank the track crew for the job they did for trying to recover the track in really adverse conditions.”
Hodnett was referring to the blustery conditions that kept the track crew on its heals attempting to produce a good racing surface.
The event’s lone caution came out on Lap 3 for Danny Dietrich, who was sporting the Weikert Livestock No. 29 colors for the event. Dietrich’s car stopped on the track after motor problems.
Hodnett maintained the point as last week’s winner Dale Blaney stayed within striking distance of Hodnett as the pair raced through lapped traffic.
Blaney actually got by Hodnett on the 15th lap with a move off Turn 2, but Hodnett blew back around the current All-Star point leader in the third turn to regain the top spot.
Hodnett and Blaney had Brent Marks and Shane Stewart close in to make a close four car battle as they again worked through lapped traffic as lap after lap Hodnett began to increase his advantage aboard the Lelands.com, Trone Outdoor Advertising, Eagle Steel No. 27.
As the race wound down, Hodnett drove away from the field as Stewart had momentarily took second spot in the newly formed Kyle Larson/Justin Marks owned sprinter. Stewart would fade to fourth at the finish as Blaney, of Hartford, Ohio, and Marks, of Myerstown, took the second and third spots at the checkered flag.
“I really screwed up there in traffic a couple times and I thought I could throw the flyer, but I didn’t want to crash anybody so I kind of just did an easy deal and just got out of position and Dale was right there and I knew I had to get a couple of good corners after that to at least give me some breathing room,” Hodnett said following his 34th career Port Royal feature win. “Dale is running exceptionally well this year so I’m very proud to be able to run with him. Just proud of Mike and (crew chief) Ryan (Hand) and all the guys for doing a great job. It’s a great honor and I’m very fortunate and very blessed.”
Following Stewart in fourth was Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver followed by Chad Layton, Lucas Wolfe, Mike Wagner, Ryan Smith and Logan Wagner.
Hodnett paced the 36-car field in time trials with a lap of 16.666 seconds while heat races went Logan Wagner, Tim Shaffer, Pat Cannon and Mike Wagner. Dietrich won the B-Main.
Port Royal Speedway
29-lap Bob Weikert Memorial
1. Greg Hodnett, 2. Dale Blaney, 3. Brent Marks, 4. Shane Stewart, 5. Danny Holtgraver, 6. Chad Layton, 7. Lucas Wolfe, 8. Mike Wagner, 9. Ryan Smith, 10. Logan Wagner, 11. Aaron ott, 12. Jac Haudenschile, 13. Blane Heimbach, 14. Mike Erdley, 15. Doug Esh, 16. Tim Shaffer, 17. Justin Barger, 18. Dave Ely, 19. Trey Starks, 20. Rick Lafferty, 21. Davey Sammons, 22. Ryan Wilson, 23. Pat Cannon, 24. Danny Dietrich.
Did Not Qualify: Steve Buckwalter, Curt Michael, Dylan Cisney, Rodney Westhafer, Lance Dewease, Caleb Helms, Joey Hershey, Nicole Bower, Curt Stroup, Jon Brennfleck, Andrew Parker, Chad Kemenah