When visiting the state of Pennsylvania, the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series events are billed as a battle between the touring regulars and the track specialists. In recent races members of the series have mainly reigned supreme, but that changed following a red flag Friday night as Greg Hodnett moved himself from third into the lead and never looked back to claim the 25-lap Summer Nationals victory at Williams Grove Speedway.
Joey Saldana started from the pole as a result of winning the Dash to set the front of the field, and jumped out to an impressive lead for the first half of the race. A wreck on the frontstretch involving Cody Darrah and Kerry Madsen bunched the field up. The previous night at Lincoln Speedway things did not go in Hodnett’s favor and he fell to a 20th place finish, but Friday’s race was the opposite for the 1993 World of Outlaws rookie of the year.
“Double-file restarts hurt us last night, but they sure helped us tonight,” commented Hodnett.
The runner up in this year’s Pennsylvania Speedweek has amassed multiple victories locally this season, but it was his first on the tour in 2014 becoming the 18th different winner in the series this year.
“We tried some different things with the car; moved the motor around,” said Hodnett.
The drive of the night was from second place finisher Brent Marks, a young central Pennsylvania driver who is beginning to travel and learn from some of sprint car racing’s best. He reeled in and challenged Saldana for the top spot immediately before the caution, but wasn’t quite able to get the job done for his first career victory. Despite this, it was a satisfying effort.
“Anytime you get a podium finish in the World of Outlaws you’ve accomplished something,” said Marks. “I had a shot at the win before that red flag; unfortunately I couldn’t make the pass. We were able to put ourselves in position and that’s what it’s all about, so hopefully in the future I can do a few things differently and capitalize on it.”
For Saldana it was a slight disappointment, but mentioned that it was a part of the product of racing at a facility like Williams Grove.
“We were just too good too soon and we had speed early, but to win this race you have to be good at the end,” recapped Saldana. “You don’t conserve out here. I was running as hard as I could and just came up short.”
Shane Stewart finished fourth and winner the previous night at Lincoln Daryn Pittman made a late race pass to round out the top five. With that finish, Pittman gains in the points on Donny Schatz, who won earlier in the week at Lernerville and was the 2013 Summer Nationals winner. On this night, he was a non-factor for the victory and finished ninth.
The stars of the World of Outlaws and the Posse’s finest go at it again for night two of competition on Saturday at Williams Grove’s Summer Nationals.
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent. Twitter: @Aaron_Creed