MECHANICSBURG, PA – David Gravel was racing third when leaders Greg Hodnett and Shane Stewart got together and spun in turn three.
Gravel missed the wreck, assumed the lead and controlled the final 15 laps scoring the opening night win for the 55th Annual Williams Grove National Open.
His 15th World of Outlaws win this season was worth $10,000. It was his second Grove win of the season.
“We’ve been fast here all year,” said Gravel, of Watertown, Conn. “Hopefully, we can keep it up all weekend. Obviously, it’s the start that we wanted. We’ll see what we can do. It has been a great year.”
Hodnett and Stewart shared the front row to start the 25-lap main event with Hodnett getting the lead. He led Stewart by 1.220 seconds as Gravel raced third in the early laps. Meanwhile, Donny Schatz and Lance Dewease battled for fourth.
Stewart was slowly closing on the leader. He drove off the bottom of turn four and Hodnett the top. The leaders made contact as they raced toward the flagstand.
Hodnett spun, hit the fence, but kept going as the caution flew. Stewart officially completed the lap as the leader and Hodnett crossed the line second.
The restart saw close racing again between Hodnett and Stewart. Hodnett put a big slider on Stewart in turn one. They both slid to the fence with inches between the two. They made it off the second turn and down the backstretch. They raced into the third turn and made contact again. This time they both spun and slid across the track and into the fence. Stewart continued while Hodnett was towed to the pits.
Gravel just missed the wreck and assumed the lead.
“I don’t know how I didn’t crash there,” said Gravel. “It scared me a little bit. I got really lucky there.”
Gravel led Daryn Pittman and Dewease down for the restart. At the half-way point, Gravel led by 1.403 as Dewease challenged Pittman for second, but couldn’t make the pass.
Gravel controlled the remaining laps, but did have a brief challenge from Pittman on the inside of turn one with a few laps to go.
“I just had to hang on there,” said Gravel. “I knew Daryn was all over me. To get our 15th win and third win in Pa. this year is pretty amazing.”
Gravel won by 0.445 over Pittman. Dewease, Schatz and Cory Haas completed the top five. Sheldon Haudenschild, Kerry Madsen, Grove point leader Freddie Rahmer, Brian Brown and Brad Sweet rounded out the top 10.
The 48-car field was split into two groups for qualifying time trials. Greg Hodnett set fast time in the first group with a lap of 16.702. Shane Stewart set fast time in the second with a lap of 17.055. Hodnett, Pittman, Stewart and Dewease won the eight-lap heat races. Jason Johnson won the C-main, Hodnett won the dash and
Hodnett started on the pole in the postponed Summer Nationals feature and grabbed the race lead over Gravel and Sweet.
Danny Dietrich charged into third and then drove by Gravel off turn two taking second.
Hodnett reached traffic with a 2.285 second lead. The preferred line was the bottom and Hodnett stayed down and couldn’t lap a slower car.
Dietrich got another great run off turn two. Hodnett tried to lap the car on the backstretch with Dietrich coming on the top. Dietrich jammed it into the third turn and they made contact with Dietrich spinning out and collecting Brian Montieth.
Hodnett kept going and controlled the ensuing restart. Eighth starting Lucas Wolfe was up to fourth passing two cars on the restart then taking second as the caution flew again for spinning cars in turn three.
Another caution on the restart as Dietrich crashed in between turn one and two. A single-file restart ensued.
Hodnett kept Wolfe at bay on the lap 15 restart as Schatz passed Gravel through the middle of turn two. Pittman also passed Gravel taking fourth.
Racing moved to the inside groove over the final 10 laps. Hodnett caught traffic with five laps to go. Wolfe closed on Hodnett late but everybody stayed in line.
Hodnett won by .340 over Wolfe with Schatz, Pittman and Gravel completing the top five. Sweet, Stewart, Dewease, Schuchart and Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the top 10.
Hodnett’s 71st career Grove win -fourth this year – was worth $20,000.
Sprint Car Feature (25 laps): 1. David Gravel. 2. Daryn Pittman. 3. Lance Dewease. 4. Donny Schatz. 5. Cory Haas. 6. Sheldon Haudenschild. 7. Kerry Madsen. 8. Freddie Rahmer. 9. Brian Brown. 10. Brad Sweet. 11. Brent Marks. 12. Jason Sides. 13. Danny Dietrich. 14. Brian Montieth. 15. James McFadden. 16. Parker Price-Miller. 17. Dale Blaney. 18. Kraig Kinser. 19. Ian Madsen. 20. Lucas Wolfe. 21. Jason Johnson. 22. Shane Stewart. 23. Anthony Macri. 24. Matt Campbell. 25. Brock Zearfoss. 26. Jac Haudenschild. 27. Greg Hodnett.
Did Not Qualify: Ryan Smith, Jason Johnson, Jacob Allen, Alan Krimes, Eric Tomecek, Tony Stewart, Tim Shaffer, Trey Starks, TJ Stutts, Logan Schuchart, Greg Wilson, Chad Trout, Jordan Givler, Justin Barger, Kyle Pruitt, Troy Fraker, George Streaker, Clyde Knipp, Nicole Bower, Steve Buckwalter, Max McGhee, Rodney Westhafer.
Summer Nationals Sprint Car Feature (30 laps): 1. Greg Hodnett; 2. Lucas Wolfe; 3. Donny Schatz; 4. Daryn Pittman; 5. David Gravel; 6. Brad Sweet; 7. Shane Stewart; 8. Lance Dewease; 9. Logan Schuchart; 10. Sheldon Haudenschild; 11. Freddie Rahmer; 12. Jason Sides; 13. Jason Johnson; 14. Trey Starks; 15. James McFadden; 16. Dale Blaney; 17. Matt Campbell; 18. Brent Marks; 19. Parker Price-Miller; 20. Kraig Kinser; 21. Danny Dietrich; 22. Brian Montieth; 23. Anthony Macri; 24. Ryan Smith; 25. Aaron Ott