MECHANICSBURG - Brian Montieth passed Justin Barger with two laps to go to win the final Friday night sprint car race of the season at Williams Grove Speedway.
Fred Rahmer finished seventh while Greg Hodnett finished fourth; Rahmer, who is retiring at the end of the season, won the track championship by a mere five points - points that would have been made up had Hodnett been able to advance one spot.
"It took us all year to figure these tires out," Montieth said. "We finally found a baseline. That's cool going into the winter. At least we're not scratching our heads."
Montieth, of Phoenixville, tried several times to drive under Barger, but Barger would pass him back every time until Montieth finally made it work coming off turn four for the white flag.
"He drove like he races here every week," Montieth said. "He threw a couple of good block moves. His wing was coming apart a little bit and that takes some side bite out of the thing. I was worried about (Logan Schuchart) coming on the bottom. I think he was a lot faster. It's scary to run second and see a wing come apart because you never know what's going to happen. I had a good car and changed my line right there at the end and went through the middle. I can't ask for better than that."
With the win, Montieth became central Pennsylvania's leading feature winner with nine overall.
Barger started on the pole and set the early pace of the 25-lap main event. Montieth started ninth and was up to fourth by lap nine. He passed Tim Glatfelter for third as Barger led rookie Brock Zearfoss.
A group of about 10 cars raced close together behind the leaders.
Zearfoss jumped the cushion in turn two trying to hold off Montieth for second. Zearfoss broke something in the front end and slowed to a stop.
Drama occurred on the restart.
Fifth running Gerard McIntyre Jr. slowed in front of the field racing through turn three. This jammed things up behind him. Brent Marks made contact with Hodnett and they both spun in turn four. Hodnett, however, kept going and retain his spot. Rahmer narrowly got by as well.
Adam Wilt's car ending up tipping over in the melee bringing out the red flag.
Hodnett restarted sixth with Rahmer ninth and holding a five point lead in the standings.
The green fell back over the field with nine laps to race and a $20,000 championship still to be decided.
Both Hodnett and Rahmer passed a few cars as Montieth went after the win. Logan Schuchart closed on the leaders over the final five laps.
Montieth continued to pressure Barger and finally made the pass stick coming off turn four as Schuchart worked the bottom.
Hodnett was up to fourth and Rahmer made a pass to get into seventh.
Montieth scored his second Grove win of the season as Schuchart passed Barger for the runner-up spot. Barger held on for a career best third place run. Hodnett and Jacob Allen completed the top five.
Danny Dietrich, Rahmer, Dave Ely, Lance Dewease and Pat Cannon rounded out the top 10.
Barger, Montieth, Zearfoss and Steve Buckwalter won the 10-lap heat races for the 410 sprint cars. Glenndon Forsythe won the consolation.
Chase Dietz held off track champion Kevin Nouse on a final lap restart to win his first career 358 sprint feature at Williams Grove. He started on the pole and led all 20 laps. He was headed for the checkers when the caution came out instead.
He was flawless on the bottom on the final lap holding back Nouse by a car length. Brad McClelland, Tyler Ross and Rich Eichelberger completed the top five.
Ross, Jay Galloway and Eichelberger won the eight-lap heat races for the 358 sprint cars. Matt Findley won the consolation.