ABBOTTSTOWN — Not even an excessive amount of cautions and stoppages could slow down Greg Hodnett on Wednesday night.
With the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at Lincoln Speedway for the first time in 2015, the Spring Grove driver was the fastest in any event in which he raced. By the end of the night, he was also the champion of the Gettysburg Clash, taking the feature event in convincing fashion and the $10,000 first-place prize.
"I didn't feel like I had the fastest car," Hodnett said. "But the stopwatch said we had the fastest car. We just had a great starting spot, and even though I didn't feel great, everyone else must have been worse."
Fast or not, Hodnett was the best.
Despite there being three cautions and one red-flag stoppage within the first six laps of the main event, he still managed to continuously pull away from the pack, forcing the other 27 drivers to battle it out for second. By the middle of the race, he began lapping the back part of the field, putting on a display of driving worthy of being part of "the greatest show on dirt."
"So far, this is the biggest win we've had this year," he said. "It means a great deal because, normally, I just don't do that good here at Lincoln. I mean, we've won some races, but never would I have thought we'd get an Outlaw win here."
Hodnett beat second-place driver Stevie Smith by more than 2 1/2 seconds, while Ryan Smith, Brad Sweet and Shane Stewart finished well back and rounded out the top five. Lucas Wolfe, Alan Krimes, Brent Marks, Kerry Madsen and Danny Dietrich completed the top 10. World of Outlaws points leader Donny Schatz finished in 15th.
The victory was Hodnett's 14th career World of Outlaws Series win. It was also his sixth win on the season and second at Lincoln Speedway.
Competing against the sprint car circuit's top drivers, Hodnett imposed his dominance from the very beginning of the event.
He raced out to the fastest time in the time trial, setting a new post-weight rule track record with a lap of 12.817 seconds. Then, competing against the three other heat winners and four other fastest drivers, he routinely won the Dash event, never once surrendering his pole position. That set him up to gain the pole position for the feature event and in a prime spot to complete his stellar performance and continue his strong start to the 2015 racing schedule.
"I think we have speed," Hodnett said. "I really think we have pretty decent speed. Every time we've had quick times, several times, through the year, so, I think we have overall speed and if I can get the car to last the entire night, then we'll be OK."
Hodnett will look to carry this performance into this weekend's events at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg and then again next Tuesday in New Jersey.
Slow start to the night: The night's events got off to a slow start, delaying the start times for the C, B and main-event races.
After the first heat was slowed by three cautions within the first two laps, the second heat encountered a larger problem of its own. In that heat, J.J. Grasso and Tim Wagaman came together entering turn three. That sent Grasso up into the protective caging above the track and he then landed upside down.
While both Grasso and Wagaman walked away unscathed, the wreck forced the heat into a red-flag stop until Grasso's car could be taken off the track and the caging could be repaired. After that, the rest of the heats and qualifying events went by with very few cautions until the main event.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org