PORT ROYAL - What was arguably the two best races of the season were staged Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway as Greg Hodnett scored his seventh 410 sprint victory of the season from deep in the pack while Scott Haus picked up his second of the year in late models.
Elsewhere, Mike Wagner II won the 305 sprint feature in companion action while Bill Powell returned to victory lane for the first time this season in the enduro dash division.
Lance Dewease and Keith Kauffman started on the front row of the 25-lap sprint car main and the first lap turned out to be a dandy with Dewease getting the drop on Kauffman as the field took the green only to see the ageless veteran rally to his outside in the first corner.
Sentinel photo by TIM SHUMAKER
Late model feature winner Scott Haus (21) and Mike Lupfer race off turn two for the lead Saturday at Port Royal.
Kauffman pulled even with Dewease as the pair raced down the backstretch in an unflinching battle of wills that saw Kauffman power down in front of Dewease, slamming the door on him as the pair set their cars into the third turn.
Dewease kept pace with Kauffman during the early going and searched for a winning groove to get by him although frequent caution flags kept breaking up the race pace.
The cautions also gave Hodnett and 20th starter Fred Rahmer plenty of opportunity to advance through the field and by the time the third yellow of the event unfurled with eight laps down, Hodnett was up to third from 12th with Rahmer sixth.
Kauffman held Dewease off on the restart but finally succumbed to relentless pressure from the Fayetteville flyer with 12 laps down and by lap 14, Hodnett had disposed of Kauffman too with Rahmer flying up to fourth spot.
Another yellow bunched the field with 10 laps to go and though a fleet-running Hodnett took his shot when action resumed, he didn't have enough to muscle by Dewease while Rahmer raced third.
Eventually, Dewease began to put a car length or two between himself and Hodnett as the race began to work into the final five laps and though he had Hodnett racing just off of his rear bumper at times, Dewease seemed unshakable.
But all that changed with he disintegrated a left rear tire as he crossed the stripe with three laps to go, surrendering the lead and his lead and a bid for his third Port win of the season.
Rahmer tried to test Hodnett on the final restart but it turned out to be Hodnett's 31st career win at the track.
Thanks to an increased purse in effect because of a 30-car field Hodnett took $3,200 for the base victory pay but he also claimed a $300 bonus for winning from the sixth row.
In doing so, the Thomasville speedster became the first driver to claim the regular show bonus money for winning from the sixth row or further back since the bonus package was put into effect at the track last April.
Rahmer rode home second followed by Mike Erdley, 18th starter Blane Heimbach and Kauffman. Sixth through 10th went to Doug Esh, Mike Wagner, Davey Sammons, Jordan Frontz and Steve Buckwalter. Heats went to Sammons, Esh and Joey Hershey with Daryl Stimeling taking the consolation.
Haus picked up the late model main after winning a nail-biter over eighth starter Mike Lupfer.
Lupfer was up to second when a caution flag regrouped the field with nine laps to go in the 20-lapper, allowing him to close the distance he was trying to run down before the break.
And for the final nine circuits, Lupfer raced in the leader's shadow and threw a shadow of his own on Haus at times as he would frequently take the lead only to see Haus battle back.
The pair raced nip and tuck around the oval with Lupfer running a lane lower than Haus, always able to pull into the lead with a run through the first and second turns.
But Haus would repeatedly return the favor in turns three and four as he would power his No. 21 to Lupfer's outside through the corners and pull him down the frontchute to maintain his official lead at the stripe.
Lupfer came up the loser in the late model battle royale at the finish when Haus crossed the stripe first for his 95th career victory at Port Royal.
Haus lauded track officials for a three-groove racing surface the produced the exciting action.
Tim Wilson rode home third followed by Jeff Miller and Chris Casner. Sixth through 10th went to Mitch Hack, Tim Fedder, Todd Snook, Coleby Frye and Terry Naugle. Heats for the 26-car field went to Andy Haus, Scott Flickinger and Lupfer.
Craig Myers led the first lap of the 20-lap 305 sprint main before Wagner took over and throttled his way to the win.
His brother Logan Wagner, who started eighth, drove into second place with 12 laps to go but even with a restart with six laps to go, Logan failed to upstage brother Mike.
Mike Wagner became the winningest driver in the division at the track by virtue of his victory, breaking a three-way tie. It was his career fourth at the oval.
Logan Wagner was second followed by Nate Gramley, Reed Thompson and Mark Watkins. Sixth through 10th went to Ryan Lynn, Tyler Bear, Greg Myers, George Riden and Kody Lehman. Heats for the 26 cars in action went to Gramley, Thompson and Bear.
A nasty opening-lap crash stopped the enduro dash as the field thundered toward the green flag.
Three-time 2012 winner Jason Zook go the worst end of the incident as he obliterated the inside guardrail abutment and his car just before the stage.
Other cars tumbled towards turn one as the red flag appeared and luckily all drivers escaped major injury.
Bill Powell was involved in the accident and tug up to the rear for the restart and took over the lead from Ryan Leister when Leister's car gave in to the torrid pace he was setting with seven laps down in the 15-lapper.
It was Powell's 18th career division win at the speedway.
Brady Cauffman finished second followed by early leader Ryan Renninger, Jan Powell and Jared Fulkroad. Sixth through 10th went to Devin Hart, Ricky Adair, Deron Henry, John Goshorn and Tyler Amtower.