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Weekend Racing Preview: March 6-8

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – This weekend ARCA, NASCAR, the World Of Outlaws Late Models and Port Royal Speedway are in action.  Our Scott Stiller has a preview:

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Satterlee Cashes in at Bedford

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BEDFORD, PA (October 24, 2020): Gregg Satterlee scored his biggest win of the season when he took the Keystone Cup at the Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway. The veteran driver carried $20,000 back to his home in Indiana, PA, in what may be his last race of the season.

“It is awesome to get a win this late in the year,” he said. I don’t know how much more we will get to race. This will make us sleep a little better this winter.”

Satterlee commended the track preparation crew. “The track was really good tonight. It got a little one lane later.” By then, it did not matter to him, for he was out front and pulling away. “It cleaned up real good and I could move around. I Had to conserve my tires, not use them up trying to run (the leaders) down.”

Satterlee started the 60 lap race in the fourth spot. Ahead of him were Darrell Lanigan and Mason Zeigler, and beside him was Tim McCreadie. Michael Norris and Matt Cosner were in the row behind. Kyle Hardy and Bryan Bernheisel were in row four, with Dan Stone and Alex Ferree in row five. Row six belonged to Jason Covert and Nathan LaSalle.

Zeigler surprised all by jumping out to the lead at the drop of the green. Lanigan fell in behind, with Satterlee in his wake. McCreadie and Cosner were dicing for fourth, along with Norris. The action did not last for long, as Jason Miller’s spin in turn two caused a quick caution.

On the ensuing Delaware double file restart, Satterlee slid into second. Just a few laps later, following caution for Gene Knaub, Lanigan was able to return the favor. The yellow fever continued for a little while longer, with additional cautions on laps six, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-two, and twenty-three. There were no major changes in the running order at the front of the field, but there was good action between McCreadie and Norris for the fourth position.

The racers got down to some serious business thereafter. They ran off 24 uninterrupted laps. Zeigler continued to control the race, but Lanigan was under attack by Satterlee. On lap 32, Satterlee went low in turn one and took over second. It did not take him very long to reel in Zeigler. The excitement built as the large crowd readied themselves for a battle for the lead.

Satterlee began to work the inside line, drawing closer and closer to Zeigler coming off the corners. Once again, he dipped to the inside in turn one to make his move. He took the lead on lap 39 and he began to pull away.

“I screwed up that one restart and Darrell got by me,” Satterlee explained. “It took me a while to get back to them.” But what seemed to be a misfortune at the time was only a brief setback. Satterlee was able to ride along in third, saving his tires for when it counted most.

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Meanwhile, Zeigler held down second. But now Lanigan was showing some extra speed, closing in on the runner-up spot. McCreadie was comfortable in fourth. Norris was in a battle with Cosner for the fifth spot. Stone and Gary Stuhler were beginning to flex some muscle, too.

A caution on lap 47 closed up the ranks for the last time. Satterlee got away cleanly and he completed the last 13 laps without difficulty. Zeigler held off Lanigan and McCradie, who was closing in in the final rounds. Norris took fifth. Stone worked past Cosner in the final five laps to get sixth. After Cosner came Trevor Feathers, Stuhler, and Rick Eckert.

The remaining finishers were Matt Sponaugle, Bernheisel, Covert, Colton Flinner, and Hardy.

The B Main winner was Jon Lee. That race was red flagged for a spectacular crash by Tyler Ritchey. After getting crosswise in turn four, Ritchey was headed toward the wall and he ran over the nose of another car. That launched Ritchey high into the air and he sailed out of the park. The car landed upside down. Ritchey, who is disabled and drives with hand controls, needed assistance to be extracted from the car. Fortunately, he was unhurt.

In qualifications held on Friday night for the Super Late Models, Laningan was the fastest overall. He topped Group B with a lap of 19.032 around the big five-eighths oval. Mason Zeigler was best in Group A. Each of them won their respective semi-mains. Zeigler’s race was uneventful. He prevailed over McCreadie, Satterlee, Hardy, and Stone. Also transferring were Covert, Eckert, Knaub, and Miller. Lanigan’s race was more intense, as Norris made a daring outside move in turn one late in the race. Following Lanigan and Norris were Cosner, Bernheisel, Alex Ferree, LaSalle, Feathers, Jim Yoder, and Stuhler.

Greg Moore drove a borrowed car to the win in the Late Model Sportsman feature. Ryan Sager was second. Taking third was the early leader, Robby Black. Devin Weyandt and Brian Lowery completed the top five. Kyle Lear, Clinton Hersh, Brad Freight, Taylor Farliing, and ageless Jim McBee were the next five finishers. McBee returned to the Sportsmen Saturday after failing to make the grade in the Super Late Model field on Friday.

In the Modified feature, Jonathan Taylor over Mike Altobelli, Jr. in a close finish. Taylor’s run to the checkers was punctuated by a stop with a track official while the field was under caution. Taylor’s air cleaner was loose and he wanted it to be checked. The official was unable to accommodate him, but the part stayed in place for the duration. Troy Johnson held off Evan Taylor for third. Mitch Thomas, Donnie Farliing, Alyssa Rowe, Keith Jackson, Ray Kable, and Jerry Foster were other top ten finishers.

In Friday support action, Nick Bechtell topped Brian Weyandt, Jr. in the Semi-Late Main event. Chubby Childers, Kyle Weyant, and Daniel Corman were in the top five. Erik Weyandt, Travis Calhoun, Josh Gustaf, Mark Patterson, and John Miller were next to cross.

The Pure Stock race went to Dalton Ritchey over Charlie Clise, Cheyenne Rinker, Derek Hinish, and Keith Killander. Jeremy Fama, Larry Food, Tyke Musselman, Travis Group, and Barry Clark were also in the top ten.

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Williamson Whips Port Royal Foes

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PORT ROYAL, PA (October 17, 2020): Mat Williamson picked the perfect time to score his first win in the Short Track Super Series for Modifieds. The driver, who earned the nickname “Money” after scoring some big victories in the rival DIRTcar Super Series, carried $53,000 out of Port Royal Speedway. His share of the bounty would go back to St. Catharines, ONT, where he and his fiance are planning to build a home.

COVID travel restrictions kept Williamson on the northern side of the Canadian border for most of the 2020 racing season. While he did get to race several times (successfully), the purses were much smaller, and he never got into a rhythm like he could do when he was able to cross the border at will. Williamson, who said that he was “tired of eating Ramen noodles,” came into the United States for a few weeks, starting with OctoberFAST (the Super DIRTweek substitute) and concluding with the Eastern States 200. “It sucks that we cannot celebrate with family and friends after a win like this,” Williamson said. He and his two traveling companions planned to party hearty and then start to prepare the car for the upcoming Eastern States race. He plans to serve out his quarantine deer hunting upon his return to Canada.

Second place finisher, Stewart Friesen, who is also Canadian by birth, did not face such restrictions, as he is now a permanent resident of Sprakers, NY.

Both drivers overcame some mechanical difficulties to get to the front of the highest paying race of the 2020 Modified season. Friesen’s problems came during Friday night’s qualifications. He blew the engine in his primary car, which was powered by a 430 cubic inch open small block. He switched to a back-up car that was equipped with a 360 cubic inch small block, and used a provisional to start 39th in the talent-laden field. While the car was down on power, series rules allowed it to race at a light 2300 pounds, and Friesen was able to get the most out of the machine. Williamson’s difficulty came during the open red at the halfway mark of the big race. The team decided to change front shocks to improve forward bite. They broke a critical part in the process and they had to scramble to find a replacement in the infield hot pit area, as crossing the track to retrieve one from the hauler was not allowed. They found the piece in Anthony Perrego’s toolbox. Perrego was leading at the break and would go on to finish fourth in the final tally.

The first ten starters were lined up by the luck of the draw. Alex Yankowski started on the pole and Danny Bouc was next to the rapid teen. Aussie Peter Britten and Mike Gular were in row two. Erick Rudolph and Matt Sheppard, a pre-race favorite, were in row three. Max McLaughlin and Mike Maresca were in row four, with Maresca driving a borrowed car after suffering a terminal engine failure at the checkers in his Friday heat race. Williamson lined up next to Billy Pauch, Jr. in row five. Perrego and Mike Mahaney were in row six.

Yankowski blasted out to the lead over Bouc and Britten while Maresca and Rudolph were fighting for position. Just as the leaders crossed for lap one, veteran Billy Van Pelt brought out the first caution of the double century contest.

Yankowski held the advantage through lap 16, when Williamson surged to the front. Although Sheppard and Bouc would also pass Yankowski, the youthful driver held his own reamining in or just outside the top five for most of the first half of the race.

Meanwhile, Friesen was methodically passing cars using the highest groove possible. He was able to roll up beside cars and pass them off the corner before they even realized that he was out there. He reached 13th by lap 20 and was positioned to assault the top ten when drama unfolded.

Billy Pauch, Jr., who was biding his time riding just outside the top ten, had his throttle stick going down the long back chute. Although he tried desperately to shut the car down, he was unable to do so, and he collided massively with the turn three fence. He punched a hole in that as the car burst into flames and then tumbled to a stop yards away. The car lost its roof and the top of the cage was exposed to oncoming traffic, but all others were able to avoid contact with Pauch. Pauch climbed from the demolished car unscathed. It took track crews over an hour and fifteen minutes to make repairs to the fence.

After that break, Williamson continued to lead, but the car was not performing up to its full potential. Perrego, who would become Williamson’s savior a short time later, rode the rim to the front on lap 86. Soon thereafter, a caution came out, and Friesen surrendered P4 to pit for tires and fuel. This enabled him to play out a strategy that would give him track position over Perrego, Williamson, Sheppard, and others.

Perrego led to the halfway mark, with Williamson, Sheppard, McLaughlin, Britten, Ryan Godown, Yankowski, Alan Johnson, Ryan Susice, and Billy Dunn making up the top ten.

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Dramatic interlude number two began with drivers declaring their intentions with regard to the mandatory pit stop. Drivers that elected to stay on the track could get fuel only. Drivers entering the hot pits could make any adjustments they wanted, including changing tires. Perrego stayed on the track, while almost all others came into the pits. After his crew looked over the tires, Perrego chose to enter the pits, losing only a minute or two of worktime. The racers who stayed out got the preferred starting positions, while those that went into the hot pits lined up behind them according to running order. So, Fiesen and his cohorts got track position with tires only 14 laps old, while Perrego, Williamson, et al. were ninth on back, albeit with fresh tires.

“We had a plan going into the race, but we threw it out the window,” Williamson said. Because the car was hot handling properly, his team switched the front shocks and almost took the car out of the race. Perrego’s team came through for them in the pinch, though, and Williamson was able to rejoin the field for the second half. “We made the right calls,” Williamson said with a sigh of relief.

It only took Friesen six laps to take the lead. He began to stretch his advantage while Perrego, McLaughlin, Sheppard, and Williamson began their march to the front. Perrego reached second on lap 128, with Andy Bachetti sitting in third. He, like Friesen, opted for the earlier pit stop to gain track position. Then came McLaughlin, Sheppard, and WiIlliamson.

With Friesen and Perrego racing the high groove, Williamson moved forward by running about a car width off the inside fence. He reached third by lap 150. Sheppard was also moving forward, but he suddenly stopped on the track with 168 completed. He pitted for a pair of fresh rear tires. “I’m sure that the fresh tires helped,” he noted. “We had a tire going down so I pitted and put two new ones on.” Indeed, in the remaining laps, Sheppard had one of the fastest cars on the track, but he did not have enough time to catch Williamson and Friesen.

Friesen continued to lead Perrego, but they had another racer to contend with as the laps wound down. Williamson took second on lap 175 and the issues became whether and when he would make a move on Friesen.

It only took eleven more circuits for the fans to know. Williamson drove by the leader on lap 186. While Williamson did open up a several car length advantage, Friesen continued to flog the cushion in an effort to chase him down. Aided by a yellow on lap 194, Friesen did get his shot at the leader. However, Williamson held his line and rode home with the lucrative win.

“I tried to beat the heck out of it,” Friesen explained. “I was starting to come back before the last yellow. I may have been able to come back if we had some traffic. I think my tore cooled off and it didn’t come back after that last caution.”

At the finish, it was Willaimson over Friesen, Sheppard, Perrego, and Larry Wight. McLaughlin, Godown, Bachetti, Yankowski, and Billy Decker rounded out the top ten. Decker’s machine bore the battle scars of an early race skirmish, but it continued to function satisfactorily.

Just over half of the field completed all 200 laps.

Port Royal and STSS officials announced that the Modifieds would return in 2021, with a Spring race contemplated. No announcement was made whether the big Fall classic would be on the docket. That decision may await further developments as STSS boss Brett Deyo also promoted Fonda Speedway where the 2019 edition of the 200 was held. COVID limitations in the Empire State forced him to move the race to Port Royal.

Port Royal Speedway will hold its final race of the season on October 24. It will be the Ninth Annual Keystone RaceSaver Challenge for 305 Sprints. Limited Late Models and Mini Stocks will also be on the card. General admission will be a mere $5, as the speedway celebrates a fan appreciation day. Racing will start at 3 p.m.

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Hot Action in Heat Races at Port Royal

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PORT ROYAL, PA (October 16, 2020): Friday was qualifying night for the Short Track Super Series Modifieds and Sportsmen competing in the Speed Showcase. Five heats were contested in each division with five cars advancing to the respective features to be held on Saturday night. Each Big Block heat paid $750 to win, and each Sportsman heat was worth $200 to the victor.

Danny Bouc took the first 20 lapper for the Big Block Modifieds. He climbed from sixth on the grid to take the lead with 12 laps in the books. Australian pilot Peter Britten came across in second, with Anthony Perrego in third, and Richie Pratt, Jr. in fourth. Early leader Rick Laubach fell back to get the fifth and final transfer. “We seem to have these heat races figured out,” said Bouc. “This car was a real beast.”

Mike Gular captured the second heat race, taking the lead from Mike Maresca on lap nine. Maresca was in a late race battle with Stewart Friese for the second spot before Friesen retired with an engine problem. Maresca suffered a terminal engine failure just as he crossed the line in second. Third was Mike Mahaney. Tyler Dippel and J.R. Heffner completed the top five. Heffner started last on the grid but still made the big show. “We had a good car the last two nights,” Gular noted. “I’m glad we got the win.”

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Billy Pauch, Jr. grabbed the lead with four laps down and went on to victory. Matt Sheppard chased him home. Although Pauch Jr. and Sheppard were locked into the 200 lapper based on their finishes on Thursday night, the were able to participate in the top ten redraw on Saturday. Getting third was Demitrios Drellos . Veteran Billy Van Pelt was fourth, and Jeff Strunk got fifth after starting last in this heat race. “We’ve ben really good all weekend,” Pauch Jr. said. His team brought out a different car than the one that he steered from 22nd to second on Thursday. He explained that this car had a new motor in it.

Erick Rudolph chased down new arrival Billy Dunn to grab a lead that he would not relinquish. Teenager Alex Yankowski crossed in second. Third went to Larry Wight. Dunn held off Jimmy Horton for the fourth spot. “We had the speed last night, but the luck was not on our side,” Rudolph said. He missed the Thursday A Main by one spot but he was not going to let that happen again.

The final heat for the Big Blocks went to Max McLaughlin over Mat Williamson. Ryan Godown took third, with Rocky Warner and Alan Johnson also making the cut. McLaughlin felt that he had to atone for his poor performance on Thursday. “I gave that one away,” he said. McLaughlin hit the wall and flattened a tire while running near the front of the field the night before. “I didn’t sleep at all after that,” he added.

Will Shields, Steve Davis, Justin Grosso, Tanner Van Doren, and Brian Krummel prevailed in the twelve lappers for the 602 Crate Sportsmen. Davis and Krummel were driving team cars sponsored by Ice Less, which was the title sponsor for the Saturday night 50 lapper. Van Doren was the youngest racer on the grounds this night. He drove a masterful race despite being too young to hold a valid driver’s license.

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