MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — David Gravel assumed the lead after race leaders Greg Hodnett and Shane Stewart got together on lap nine and won Thursday night’s feature on the opening night of the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway.
Gravel led the rest of the way, but not without a fight from Daryn Pittman and Lance Dewease, who finished second and third.
Pittman and Dewease finished within a second of Gravel at the finish.
Greg Hodnett set fast time overall, won his heat and the Craftsman Club Dash and led the opening nine laps of the feature, but Hodnett’s lead dwindled as Shane Stewart closed in on the bottom of the half-mile.
Stewart made his move for the lead off of turn four coming to the line on lap 10 but made contact with Hodnett, sending the Heffner Racing No. 27 spinning into the frontstretch guardrail. Hodnett miraculously kept the car going and was able to restart in second after the caution was thrown.
On the ensuing restart, Hodnett tried to slide Stewart for the lead in turns one and two pushing the Larson/Marks No. 2 up the track. Stewart maintained the lead underneath the famous backstretch Williams Grove bridge.
Hodnett drove into turn three hard, making heavy contact with Stewart and sending both cars into the fence hard. It was a costly move for both drivers in the National Open weekend point standings. Stewart was able to restart, but Hodnett was not.
Gravel, who narrowly missed being collected in the aforementioned accident, assumed the lead as Pittman and Dewease waged war behind him for the runner-up spot.
As Gravel closed in on traffic, Pittman and Dewease closed in, but to no avail as the CJB Motorsports No. 5 collected its 15th win of the season.
“I don’t know how I didn’t crash,” Gravel said referencing the Stewart/Hodnett accident. “I can’t thank all the guys, sponsors and everyone that makes this CJB team so strong enough.”
Pittman, who came close to Gravel in the closing laps, was pleased with his night.
“We had a really solid night,” said Pittman. “Hopefully we can qualify well tomorrow again and be up front. Saturday is where our focus is at.”
Donny Schatz and local Cory Haas completed the top five. Williams Grove point leader Freddie Rahmer picked up KSE Hard Charger honors after coming from 21st to eighth.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…