HEINTZELMAN: Hodnett Gets First Williams Grove Championship

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LIVERPOOL, Pa. — Greg Hodnett has accomplished a lot since coming to Central Pennsylvania in 1998. He’s won all the major races in the area and has amassed an impressive victory total in those years.

Hodnett has been in top cars since he became a member of the Pennsylvania Posse, so he always traveled to various national events such as the Knoxville Nationals. This traveling kept him from winning track championships until this season as Hodnett earned his first Williams Grove Speedway title.

The winning effort was worth $20,000 to Hodnett and his car owners, Jim and Sandy Kline. For the Klines, it was their third championship.

“The guys did a nice job, the car maybe wasn’t the fastest all the time, but it was definitely consistent,” Hodnett said. “I think that was the biggest key on the success of the season. We could be better and we keep working to get better. Fortunately for us, we pulled it off and that’s what counts.”

Hodnett, a native of Memphis, Tenn., did miss an event to run Knoxville this season, but never lost the point lead thanks to a strong spring and summer.

“There are many years in the past that probably if we would have just run all the races we probably could have won a couple,” he said. “It’s very nice. There are a lot of great drivers and teams that have won it. It’s very rewarding knowing the caliber of competition we have here.”

The most impressive of his three victories came during the Summer Nationals. Hodnett was mired back in eighth spot until a red flag gave mechanic Lee Stauffer a chance to work on the car. Hodnett came back through the field to score the come- from-behind victory.

He had one other triumph against the Outlaws and a third victory on a regular night. He finished second in six races.

Hodnett has 45 victories at the Grove and that’s good enough for fifth on the all-time winner’s list. He has been one of the best at the tricky oval over the past 12 years and now has a much-deserved track championship.

He had a remarkable season winning the Pennsylvania Speedweek championship and the overall Speed Dawg Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car Series. He had eight overall wins.

Hodnett became the first driver other than Fred Rahmer, Lance Dewease, Don Kreitz Jr. and Todd Shaffer to win a Grove title since 1989 when Steve Smith was the champ. Kreitz won his first of four in 1990 and the above four drivers combined to win the next 20 titles. Rahmer has eight; Dewease five; Kreitz four; and Shaffer three.

Lincoln Speedway champion Brian Montieth finished second to Hodnett and kept it close for most of the season. Montieth got hot in mid-summer winning four races in a seven-race span. However, Montieth couldn’t keep up the consistency down the stretch.

Chad Layton, Mark Smith and Alan Krimes completed the top five in points. Layton won two features in his first full season in the Dave Middleswarth-owned sprinter. Smith won two races in the Brian Scandle sprinter. Krimes’s best finish was runner-up in a car owned by his dad, Larry.

Thirty-five features were held for the 410 sprints and 18 different drivers won features. Dewease won the most with five followed by Montieth with four. Hodnett and Daryn Pittman won three races.

Danny Dietrich, Tyler Walker, Cory Haas, Steve Buckwalter, Justin Henderson and Brent Marks were first-time Grove winners in 2010.

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