By Dean Reynolds
MECHANICSBURG, PA – It was lap nine of the regularly scheduled World of Outlaws preliminary A-Main at Williams Grove Speedway. It’s night #1 of the National Open and hometown favorite Greg Hodnett was leading the field of Outlaw stars and Posse stars.
Hodnett won the dash to put him on the knob for the $10,000 to win affair. When the green flag dropped his Michael Heffner owned #27 pulled out early.
As laps did click on however Shane Stewart begin to reel the Hodnett machine in using the low side. Then came lap nine, it will be a lap remembered for a while.
Coming off turn four Stewart was underneath Hodnett and the two made contact on the front stretch. Hodnett’s machine all of a sudden did a wild 360, touched the wall and kept going. The yellow did come out but with the Outlaw blend rule he was able to restart second.
Under caution the two were seen side by side and I’m sure hand gestures were being used. When the field restarted so did the tale of the race.
“I am actually not sure why he touched me on the front stretch, we were running the same line each lap and then….” Hodnett said afterwards. “When the green came out I was going to charge hard.”
Charge hard indeed. The two came off turn two side by side and when entering three Hodnett was inside and contact was made sending both into the outside wall hard. Stewart did restart after a trip to the work area while Hodnett’s car was complete write off.
“Let’s just say, we touched going for the same spot,” was about all Greg said about the incident in turn three.
David Gravel went on to win the 25 lap event and gain valuable points to the $50,000 to win Saturday night starting field. Pa. fans don’t forget easily and Gravel did get showered with some boos. Fans remember his controversial National win when he made contact with Stevie Smith.
After about a 15 minute break, the cars were then lined back up for the 30 lap Summer Nationals that was rained out in July. Ironically Greg Hodnett was on the pole again. But, he had to run a backup car that didn’t turn a lap all night.
This event had its own story as well with somewhat of the same scenario with Danny Dietrich closing in looking to make a move which he did on lap 13 diving to the inside in the very same turn three. The door was closed and his familiar #48 spun around.
The final 17 laps did go drama free with the #27 claiming the win and the $20,000 top prize. But, this win had an unusual feel to it. Posse fans are faithful to their own and right to the core. When one of their own beats the Outlaws cheers are heard throughout Cumberland County. This time the greeting was luke warm at best.
After hitting scales the winner then passed by Beer Hill, and the usual hi-pitched cheers were replaced with a deeper, more mixed reaction. The same as he was pushed in front stretch into victory lane.
“I guess Dan (Dietrich) had a good run on me, I didn’t see him underneath and guess he spun around,” Hodnett went on about the win. “I can’t thank my guys enough, to get a car ready like they did and put it here.”
Hodnett did talk about the earlier event and how he was feeling, “When I hit the wall I guess my body somehow touched the wall. I am pretty sore on the left side, I’ll relax a bit tonight and see how well I will feel tomorrow.
“The guys will now get this car ready and we will see what we can do for the rest of the weekend.” He simply said.
And that was the Thursday Tale of Greg Hodnett.