In 358 sprint action, Pat Cannon won the opening day sprint feature for the second year in a row.
Fred Rahmer of Salfordville drew the pole for the start of the 25-lap sprint feature with Hodnett lined up third and when the green flag fell, Hodnett immediately drove into second and began dogging Rahmer.
The first 10 laps of the race went non-stop with Hodnett seriously challenging Rahmer during the early going and even pulling even for the lead before Rahmer began putting distance between the pair.
The first caution of the race came out with 10 away when Keith Kauffman ended up facing traffic at the exit of the fourth corner.
Rahmer and Hodnett had Chad Layton lurking in third for the restart and while Hodnett made an effort when green replaced the yellow, Rahmer looked secure in the lead.
Another caution with 12 laps to go regrouped the field again, with Rahmer again getting away when action resumed.
But the story began to change with seven to go when as Rahmer worked lapped traffic Hodnett began dramatically closing the gap.
And it was in traffic as the pair raced to the stripe to score lap 21 that Hodnett was able to squeeze by Rahmer and drive up in front to take control at the stripe despite slight contact between the pair as they raced across the line.
More contact was in the offing however as just the blink of an eye later Rahmer tried to slingshot around Hodnett’s outside and retake control as the pair maneuvered through turns one and two.
The move failed in the middle of the corners however when Hodnett twitched up the track and made contact with Rahmer who went flipping up and nearly over the turn two catch fence before careening back down onto the speedway, escaping injury.
Layton restarted second and quickly saw eighth starter Daryn Pittman motor by for the spot before trying to close on Hodnett only to run out of time.
The $3,000 victory was the 25th of Hodnett’s Port Royal career.
Pittman finished second flowed by Layton, Rick Lafferty and Mike Wagner.
Heats for the 32-car field went to Lafferty, Layton, Hodnett and Wagner. Ryan Taylor won the consolation race.
Cannon started his mount fifth in the 20-lap 358 sprint main and watch from behind as Mark Smith took the lead from Derek Locke on the second go around.
A spin with eight away saw Cannon restart third behind Smith and Locke and when the restart turned red for a turn four tangle between Kyle Moody and Rodney Westhafer, Locke pulled pitside with mechanical issues.
That placed Cannon on Smith’s bumper for the return to action and it took the Etters’ driver only two circuits to secure the lead before running away to his second career 358 triumph at Port Royal Speedway.
Smith was second followed by Ryan Wilson, 14th starter Davie Franek and Jeff Rohrbaugh.
Heats went to Cannon, Wilson and Smith.
Coming up March 24 at the oval will be the season opener for the AB Auto Glass late models along with the 410 sprints, starting at 6 pm.
And then the first three-division show of the year is slated for 6 PM on March 31 with the 410 sprints, late models and pro stocks.
March 17, 2012 Feature Finishes:
410 sprint feature, 25 laps: 1. Greg Hodnett, 2. Daryn Pittman, 3. Chad Layton, 4. Rick Lafferty, 5. Mike Wagner, 6. Blane Heimbach, 7. Mike Erdley, 8. Justin Henderson, 9. Nate Snyder, 10. Keith Kauffman, 11. Cliff Brian, 12. Curt Stroup, 13. Curt Michael, 14. Robbie Stillwaggon, 15. Jon Brennfleck, 16. Michael Ruttkamp, 17. Bob Howard, 18. Doug Esh, 19. Fred Rahmer, 20. Ryan Taylor, 21. Bob Bennett, 22. Mark Smith, 23. Steve Buckwalter, 24. Dylan Cisney
Lap leaders: Rahmer, 1 – 20; Hodnett, 20 – 25
358 sprint feature, 250 laps: 1. Pat Cannon, 2. Mark Smith, 3, Ryan Wilson, 4. Davie Franek, 5. Jeff Rohrbaugh, 6. TJ Stutts, 7. Dale Hammaker, 8. Eric Tomecek, 9. Matt Horst, 10. Ted Thomas Jr., 11. Nate Hammaker, 12. Larry Kelleher, 13. Scott Fisher, 14. Jason Cherry, 15. Charlie Anderson, 16. Duane Maustellar, 17. Jay Galloway, 18. John Smith, 19. Joe Trone Jr., 20. Derek Locke, 21. Kyle Moody, 22. Rodney Westhafer, 23. Ben Naugle.
Lap leaders: Locke, 1; Smth, 2 – 9; Cannon, 10 – 20.