Hodnett Survives Port Royal Calamity
PORT ROYAL, Pa. (April 16, 2016) – Greg Hodnett scored the 410 sprint car feature at Port Royal Speedway on Saturday night to record his second oval win of the season in a race that was marred by a horrific opening lap frontstretch melee.
Nate Gramley of Lewistown scored a clean sweep of both 305 sprint features on the night after running off with the April 2 make up event as well as the regularly scheduled main.
The start of the 25-lap 410 sprint car main saw a massive, violent and scary crash take place on the frontstretch involving eight cars in front of the grandstand with four of them flipping.
After contact with Doug Esh as the field sped down the front chute, Lucas Wolfe careened across the track in front of the field, flipping while getting hit hard by oncoming traffic.
Other cars that flipped belonged to Curt Stroup, Joey Hershey and Cory Thornton with Thornton coming from 15th starting spot into the melee and catapulting through the carnage before slamming onto the track with the throttle stuck wide open as it vaulted back and forth before finally falling silent.
Additional cars involved included Ryan Taylor, Daryl Stimeling, Rick Lafferty and Kody Lehman.
While all drivers climbed from their racers, Thornton was transported to a local hospital.
Apparently thanks to the contact, Esh pulled pitside under the stoppage but would rejoin at the rear for the return to action that found Brock Zearfoss and Blane Heimbach on the front row.
The race did go non-stop following the opening lap fracas with Zearfoss touring around the oval with the lead for the first 10 laps before Hodnett took over.
After starting third, Hodnett got by Heimbach for second on the opening lap and then gradually ran down Zearfoss to make the pass and run away.
Hodnett’s margin of victory for his 44th career Port Royal checkers was 7.545 seconds.
The current point leader, Hodnett apologized repeatedly in victory lane, feeling responsible for prompting the opening lap crash that started when Esh had to slow up to keep from hitting Hodnett as he worked across the track to get to a higher line.
Zearfoss finished the feature in second followed by Heimbach, Dylan Cisney, Esh, Mike Wagner, Taylor, Tyler Bear, Wayne Dadetto and Lehman.
Heats went to Zearfoss and Heimbach.
Gramley resumed the make up April 2 305 sprint main with the lead with two laps completed.
Defending Port Royal Champion Jeff Miller worked into second spot on the sixth loop and threatened to challenge for the lead.
The trio of Gramley, Miller and Zach Newlin staged a spirited battle for the lead at the halfway point but the race was then red flagged for a two-car tangle on the 14th circuit.
Miller began smoking shortly after the restart and eventually fell out of the race as Gramley went on to win over Newlin, Jake Waters, Ken Duke and Scott Lutz.
Gramley wired the field in the regularly slated 305 sprint main with Newlin racing second until lap 10 when Drew Ritchie took the spot.
Mark Watkins surged late in the race to end up third followed by Newlin and Waters.
Heats went to Mike Kiser, Gramley and Newlin.
410 sprints, 25 laps: 1. Greg Hodnett, 2. Brock Zearfoss, 3. Blane Heimbach, 4. Dylan Cisney, 5. Doug Esh, 6. Mike Wagner, 7. Ryan Taylor, 8. Tyler Bear, 9. Wayne Dadetto, 10. Kody Lehman, 11. Daryl Stimeling, 12. Cale Grubb, 13. Lucas Wolfe, 14. Curt Stroup, 15. Joey Hershey, 16. Rick Lafferty, 17. Cory Thornton
DNS: Steve Buckwalter
305 sprints, 18 laps (make up from 4/2): 1. Nate Gramley, 2. Zach Newlin, 3. Jake Waters, 4. Ken Duke, 5. Mark Watkins, 6. Scott Lutz, 7. Alan Kumpf, 8. Kyle Ganoe, 9. John Martin, 10. John Fiore, 11. Cale Reigle, 12. Andrew Hake, 13. Erin Statler, 14. Neil Petock, 15. Jeff Miller, 16. Hunter McCracken, 17. Reed Thompson, 18. Drew Ritchie, 19. Austin Burke, 20. Tyler Reeser, 21. Dave Grube, 22. Cody Hackenberry, 23. Jacob Gomola, 24. Paul Snyder
DNQ: Dave Guss Jr., Jim Kennedy
305 sprints, 18 laps: 1. Nathan Gramley, 2. Drew Ritchie, 3. Mark Watkins, 4. Zach Newlin, 5. Jake Waters, 6. Jeff Geiges, 7. Cale Reigle, 8. Scott Lutz, 9. Scott Ellerman, 10. John Martin, 11. Kyle Ganoe, 12. Austin Burke, 13. Geoff Gill, 14. Dave Brown Jr., 15. Hunter McCracken, 16. George Riden, 17. Joe Kay, 18. Andrew Hake, 19. Neil Petock, 20. Tom Worrick, 21. Mike Kiser, 22. John Fiore, 23. Erin Statler, 24. Alan Kumpf, 25. Dave Graber
DNQ: Ken Duke, Reed Thompson, Jeff Miller, Jim Kennedy