Last Friday, Spring Grove’s Greg Hodnett came very close to doing something that no one has ever done before.
Hodnett was just three laps away from scoring a “hat trick” of opening day wins at the three ovals that still play host to sprint cars on a weekly basis in this area — Williams Grove, Lincoln and Port Royal.
It’s been close to a decade since any other tracks offered weekly sprint competition around here.
No one has ever swept the season openers at the Grove, Lincoln and the Port in the same year. Hodnett almost did it Friday evening.
While drivers have won openers at two of the three tracks in the same year before, getting that third one is much harder. Part of that is because Lincoln and Port Royal normally race on the same night (Saturday), and in the distant past, often opened on the same day. More recently, Lincoln has opened earlier than the Port, but both tracks still have their regular drivers, and the size and shape of the tracks are very different.
Hodnett, however, was able to win the openers at both Lincoln and the Port this season. Only Williams Grove eluded him, but not by much.
Hodnett had just taken the lead from Rick Lafferty on Friday evening on the 21st lap of the 25-lap feature. One lap later, Hodnett slowed in the fourth turn with mechanical problems and dropped from the race.
Oh so close.
This week: This week’s racing slate is a full one for so early in the season.
Williams Grove kicks things off on Friday evening with the sprint cars and super late models again on the schedule.
On Saturday, Trailway races in the afternoon, while Susquehanna joins Lincoln, Port Royal and Hagerstown with evening shows.
At Trailway, the 270cc and 600cc micro sprints are joined by the street stocks and classic cars.
Susquehanna’s grand opening, under new track owner Scott Gobrecht and general manager Kolton Gouse, will feature the super sportsmen, limited late models, street stocks and Legends cars.
At Lincoln, the sprint cars will go in a Spring Championship test that will offer $5,000 to the winner. The 358 sprint cars will make their first start of the season on that program as well.
Port Royal offers the sprint cars, the touring UFO late models and the UFO limited late models on their Saturday evening slate.
At Hagerstown, it’s the late models and late model sportsmen headlining the program.
Most of the Saturday programs around the area will also offer some type of Easter entertainment for the children.
Weekend notes: Besides Hodnett, several top contenders had troubles late in the going at Williams Grove Friday evening.
Lucas Wolfe had a strong top-three run going until suffering mechanical troubles on lap 18 of the feature. One lap later, another top-five car, Brian Montieth, suffered a flat tire. Montieth returned and managed to climb back up to 13th in the final rundown.
Twenty-one of the 24 starters finished the feature at the Grove on Friday
Near the end of Friday’s consolation race, western Pennsylvania drivers Davey Jones and John Garvin were racing for the final transfer spot into the feature. That’s noteworthy because Jones and Garvin brought their racers to the track in the same race car hauler. Veteran Jones got the spot over youngster Garvin, but it still might have been a long ride home.
Brent Marks’ win over Dylan Cisney on Saturday at Port Royal marked his first of the racing season. Marks missed Lincoln’s opener because he was racing with the World of Outlaws in Texas, where he has picked up a new sponsor this season. However, since then he has been to every local race. This past weekend marked his first two top-10 finishes of the season.
I was surprised on Saturday when I got the call that Lincoln had canceled it’s Saturday evening race. Most folks know that Lincoln tries very hard to get all of its races into the record books. On Sunday at the EMMR event I found out that, although I personally didn’t have any wet weather at my home, the tracks to the south of me, including Lincoln, actually had a mixture of rain and snow on Saturday afternoon.
Round table: I did get a chance to attend the round table discussion at the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing on Sunday afternoon.
The subject of the round table this month was the Tobias family, and it was great to see so many family members present. It's a very interesting family, which has endured much tragedy.
Mary Tobias was on hand Sunday, along with youngest son Richie, daughters Debbie and Tina, son-in-law Paul Lotier and daughter-in-law Diane.
Dick Tobias was fatally injured in a USAC sprint car race at Flemington, New Jersey, while another son, Scott, and son-in-law Lotier both ended their careers early after suffering serious injuries in sprint car crashes at Port Royal and Sharon, Ohio, respectively. Son Ronnie Tobias suffered a fatal heart attack after a modified race at Susquehanna.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt tracing racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
2016 SPEEDWAY MOTORS / CHAMPION RACING OIL
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SERIES
PRESENTED BY HOSEHEADS.COM
Listing includes car number, name, points and wins.
1. 27 Greg Hodnett 165 2
2. 21 Brian Montieth 110 1
3. 51 Freddie Rahmer 74
3. 48 Danny Dietrich 74
5. 15 Adam Wilt 71
6. 19M Brent Marks 64 1
7. 0 Rick Lafferty 60 1
7. 5c Dylan Cisney 60
9. 87 Alan Krimes 56
10. 23 T J Stutts 55
11. 8 Billy Dietrich 50 1
12. 11c Cory Haas 46
12. 55 Mike Wagner 46
12. 17B Steve Buckwalter 46
15. 07 Doug Esh 41
16. 16 Gerard McIntyre Jr 39
17. 59 Jim Siegel 36
18. 2W Glenndon Forsythe 35
19. M1 Mark Smith 30
20. 52 Austin Hogue 28
21. 25 Aaron Ott 25
21. 69 Shane Hoff 25
23. 99M Kyle Moody 22
24. 33 Curt Stroup 20
25. 3z Brock Zearfoss 18