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Spithaler Sprint Star at Tri-City Raceway Park

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Photo Courtesy: Mark Swanson

FRANKLIN, PA (June 14, 2020): Brandon Spithaler scored an impressive 410 Sprint Car victory in the second round of action at Tri-City Raceway Park on Sunday evening. Joining him in celebrating wins were Tom Holden in the 358 Modifieds, Rod Laskey in the Pro Stocks, and Dillon Speer in the Mini Stocks.

Under Tri-City rules, the first several rows of each feature event consist of the drivers who excel in their respective heat races. Brandon Spithaler wound up on the pole courtesy of Brandon Matus who was tasked with the responsibility to pull the pills that determined the starting order for the Sprint Cars. “I knew when I pulled the number one pill for him that he was going to be tough,” lamented Matus. His concerns were indeed valid, as Spithaler absolutely dominated the race from start to finish.

“This track was perfect tonight,” Spithaler said. “If Tri-City was like this every week, I would love it.” Conditions were much more to his liking compared to the previous week, when the track was smooth and slick, and he struggled to a sixth place finish. Sunday’s track was moist and a little choppy, giving Spithaler the opportunity to “cowboy up” as one of his competitors put it.

Spithaler jumped out front at the drop of the green. Tim Shaffer moved from fourth to second on the opening lap. However, Spithaler knew that the Steel City Outlaw was stalking him when he saw Shaffer’s number 28 on the scoreboard while the field was pacing under a caution. That did not rattle Spithaler, though. Instead, it incentivized him. He drove even harder to keep Shaffer at bay. Spithaler’s car worked to perfection regardless where he put it as he picked his way through lapped traffic during the second half of the race. His pace was so frenetic that he lapped all the way through the fifth position!

Following Spithaler and Shaffer were Jack Sodeman, Jr., Lee Jacobs, and Dan Kuriger. Once again, Kuriger passed plenty of cars. He started deep in the pack, eighteenth to be exact. Unfortunately for him, there was no hard charger award given this night.

Brandon Matus, Jared McFarland, Cody Bova, Gary Kriess, Jr., and Darren Pifer completed the top ten.

Heat wins for the 28 cars on hand were won by Brandon Matus, Jacobs, and Shaffer. There was no B Main as promoter Merle Black once again allowed all cars to start the feature event.

Tom Holden scored the emotional win in the 358 Modifieds. He dedicated the triumph to two family members who recently passed. One of them was his father, a former sprint car driver who never won a race at Tri-City despite years of trying. Holden’s car carries a picture of his late father on the right rear quarter panel, and Tom proudly said that his dad finally made it to victory lane at the track.

To earn the win, Holden had to pass Eric Beggs, who led from the start. Holden got his chance following a restart on lap twelve. Beggs entered turn one on the inside groove and Holden drove by him on the outside. That surprised Beggs, as Holden had been using the low line prior to the restart and Beggs changed up his own line in an effort to slow Holden’s advance.

Taking third was Travis Shingledecker, who was subbing for his brother, Jeremiah, who had other commitments for the evening. Kevin Green scored his second top five finish of the season, followed by Jeff Schaffer, Jr.

Three Rivers Karting

Positions six through ten went to Richard Whitney, Ryan Riffe, Shawn Fleeger, D.J. Schrader, and Brandon Ritchey.

Schaffer and Beggs were victorious in their heats. There was no B Main. Last week’s winner, Kyle Fink, was the first driver eliminated from the race when he struck the water barrels lining the outside wall between turns one and two.

In the Pro Stock contest, Curtis J. Bish took the early lead from last week’s winner, Josh Seippel, and then he had to hold off Rod Laskey. Although Laskey was scored as the leader on one lap in the middle of the race, it was Bish who seemed to have control. But, Laskey was determined and he came storming back on the final lap. He made a bold move coming through turn four on the final round to steal the win from Bish.

While Bish and Laskey were fighting for the lead and the win, Jackson Humanic was lurking in third. Neither of his rivals faltered, and Humanic was forced to settle for the podium finish. Curt Bish was fourth and Seippel crossed in fifth.

Tyler Wyant, Pat Fielding, Blaze Myers, Josh Blum, and Chase Lambert completed the top ten.

Heat wins went to Custis J. Bish and Bobby Whitling. There was no B Main.

The Mini Stocks got to open and close the racing action this night. First up was the remaining ten laps from last week’s feature for the class. That race had to be cut short due to a power failure that darkened the long back stretch. The winner of that event was Dillon Speer, and he would go on to claim the honors in the nightcap as well. Speer also won his heat race, making for a clean sweep of Mini Stock action.

In the opener, Kyle Janas was second, but he crashed in the final event of the night. Emily Stoyer was third, followed by Shane Shook and Jesse Armstrong.

In the finale, Dillon’s cousin, Dalton Speer, was the runner-up. Patrick Hanlon crossed in third, with Bondy Stoyer and Justin Bailey rounding out the top five.

Dillon Speer and Patrick Hanlon captured the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

Tri-City Raceway Park will be in action again on June 21, with 410 Sprints, 358 Modifieds, and Mini Stocks topping the card. Joining the fun will be the Vintage Modifieds. In celebration of Father’s Day, all men will get a free popcorn.

Dirt Racing

Determined Dewease Destroys Port Royal in Night Two of Tusky 50 Weekend

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PORT ROYAL, PA (September 9, 2022): Lance Dewease romped to an impressive win on night two of the Tuscarora 50 weekend at Port Royal Speedway. The $10,000 win was number one hundred twenty-one in his career, putting him just eight wins behind Keith Kauffman on the track’s all-time list. For Dewease, it was his ninth Port Royal triumph against the All Stars in the fifty-nine races held at the Speed Palace, and his fourty-third career triumph with the touring series.

Dewease stamped himself as one of the favorites to take home the $60,000 winner’s share that will be on the line Saturday night. He has seven career wins in the classic, more than any other driver.

“It was a really good car last night, and it was good all night. We just timed sixth against a good group.” On this night, he timed second second in his group, which put him on the pole of his heat race. Although he had another tough group to race against, he had a much better starting position and easily won the preliminary to lock into the dash. While he did not get a good pill draw, he did pick up a couple of positions to move ahead in the feature line-up.

Dewease explained that his veteran crew made a motor change during the day and that they wanted to see how it would perform. The team also made a few other changes which he did not disclose. He added, “they know what they need to do to make it better.”

Dewease noted that the car does not like the dirty air. “I didn’t do a good job last night staying out of the dirty air. I did a better job with that (tonight). I was pretty good tonight keeping the wing loaded.”

Dewease mentioned that he got a break on a pair of lap eleven restarts. On the first try, Dewease entered the corner low to try to pass Giovanni Scelzi for second, and Danny Dietrich was able to sail past Dewease on the high side. But a multi-car wreck in the middle of the pack in turn one wiped that pass out and Dewease altered his strategy for the second go at it. That time, he entered the first corner in the middle and Dietrich did not have as much room to make a run on the outside. Dewease held third and then he went to work on Scelzi.

After dispatching Scelzi rather quickly, it only took Dewease three more laps to pass Brian Brown for the lead. “I didn’t want to show Brian a lane,” Dewease said. By the time Brown knew Dewease was down on the guardrail, the pass was history.

Dietrich used the high line to pass Brown about a lap later, and he was reeling in Dewease. The fans were ready for a full tilt fight for the lead in the waning laps, but Dietrich suddenly slowed coming off turn two on lap twenty-two. He stopped to bring out a caution. He went to the work area with teh assistance of a push vehicle, but the car was sitting down on teh right rear corner with apparent suspension damage that could not be repaired.

By winning the dash handily, Brown started from the pole. Scelzi was on his flank. Behind them were Cory Eliason and Kasey Kahne. Dietrich and Tyler Courtney lined up in the third row, followed by Brent Marks and Lance Dewease. Justin Peck and Rico Abreu were in row five, as the last of the dash competitors. Austin Bishop and Sye Lynch represented the millennials well in row six.

Brown, Scelzi, Courtney, Dietrich and Eliason led the way atthe start. Kahne, Marks, Dewease, Lynch, and Abreu followed. Dietrich slipped into third on lap two and he started to close on Scelzi when the first caution was displayed for Zeb Wise five laps into the contest.

Three Rivers Karting

Two laps after the race resumed, Dietrich was riding second, but Dewease was up to fourth and he was clearly the fastest car on the track at that time. Dewease sparred with Dietrich for a couple of laps before assuming the third position.

Another stoppage for Bill Balog set up the pair of restarts with eleven laps in the books. The first start was called off because of the chaos in turn one involving Lynch, Kahne, Bishop, and Mike Wagner. Wagner got airborne after running over the left front wheel that came off Lynch’s car. Wagner’s car was struck by two other cars while in the air and it briefly hung up on the tin that sits above the tiers of Armco barriers that ring the first and second turns. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured in the wreck.

When the race officially resumed, Dewease was on a mission. He passed Scelzi for second on lap thirteen and Brown for the lead three laps later. Dietrich followed his advance, but he was several car lengths behind Dewease. The anticipated battle between Dewease and Dietrich never materialized, though, because of a mechanical failure.

Dewease easily outdistanced Brown over the final eight laps. Scelzi crossed in third. Marks briefly challenged for that position, but Scelzi was able to hold him off. Peck snuck by Marks for fourth in the final rounds. Positions six through ten went to Courtney, Dylan Cisney, Justin Whittal, Anthony Macri, and Eliason.

Whittal was the hard charger, coming from twenty-fourth to eighth.

“We were a third place car,” Brown said. He added that he was in the right place when Dietrich broke. Nevertheless, he was pleased with his run and he was looking forward to the fifty lapper on Saturday.

By starting the A Main with a provisional, Logan Wagner was named the 410 Sprint Car champion atthe speedway for the fifth time in his career.

The five heat winners were Eliason, Kahne, Dewease, Dietrich, and Abreu. Abreu battled Macri in the early going, but Macri made hard contact with the wall followed by a 360 between turns one and two. Somehow, he kept the car going and limped into the work area. Although the right rear tire was replaced, other damage prevented his return. Macri rebounded for the B Main victory. The C Main winner was Zach Hampton. For the second night in a row, Courtney was the fastest qualifier. His lap time was 16.225 seconds.

In the Super Late Model feature, veteran Jason Covert picked up the win. Although he started on the pole, he lost the lead at the start to his dancing partner, Mike Lupfer. Lupfer led the first ten laps before Covert took control. Once in the lead, Covert disappeared from the field.

In the second half of the race, Lupfer had an extended battle with Hayes Mattern for the second position. Lupfer held him off, though. Taking fourth at the end of the race was Colton Flinner. That assured him of his first track title. Gary Stuhler, who had a mathematical chance of taking the crown, was fifth. Last year’s titleholder, Dylan Yoder, was sixth. Gene Knaub, Trever Feathers, Dillan Stake, and Deshawn Gingerich rounded out the top ten in the non-stop affair.

Late Model preliminaries went to Lupfer, Yoder, and Flinner. There was no B Main.

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Dirt Racing

Macri Masters Port Royal Tusky Opener

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Port Royal Speedway

PORT ROYAL, PA (September 8, 2022): Anthony Macri celebrated the return to his familiar, family-owned mount by steering it into victory lane on the opening night of the Tuscarora 50 weekend at Port Royal Speedway. The $8,000 victory was his eighteenth of the season overall.

“We spent a month on the road and we got our butts kicked a little bit, but I learned a lot, different scenarios and tracks,” Macri noted. Truth be told, his experience behind the wheel of the Sam McGhee Motorsports number 11 was not all bad. He did chalk up a win with the car at the Bedford Speedway a couple of weeks ago. But, you could tell that he was more comfortable, and more aggressive, in his own car.

Macri fell back at the beginning of the race. While that may have concerned some, it was all part of his strategy to save his tires. He noted how tires worn in the heat races, and he wanted to make sure that he had enough rubber to go the distance. Conserving tires will be even more important in the big fifty lapper that will close out the fifty-fifth running of the Tuscarora 50.

“I wanted to play the beginning of the race calm and cool,” he explained. He dropped to third behind Bill Balog and Danny Dietrich. “Balog got out there and I decided , I knew, it was time to go.” And, once he got going, there was no stopping him.

Dietrich, who finished second, quipped, “I kept Anthony honest up until lap twenty-two. Then I came up on some lapped cars. They were running three abreast, a lot of dirty air.” Nonetheless, Dietrich was pleased with his performance. “That’s the best by far that this car has been up here. It really stuck in the middle.”

Perhaps the fastest car on the track in the second half of the race, though, was the Zemco number 1 driven by Logan Wagner. Wagner, who is seeking his fifth track championship this weekend, came on strong to take the third position. Wagner was disappointed with his run in the dash, which was only good enough to put him eighth on the grid. “I feel if I had capitalized a little better in the dash and put ourselves into a better position . . .” his voice trailing off.

Balog was on the pole as a result of his dash win. Macri was his wingman. Justin Peck and Dietrich occupied row two. Giovanni Scelzi and Mike Wagner were in row three. Jeff Halligan was slated to start inside row four, but when he had a fuel pump problem, he had to borrow a car to start at the rear of the field. That moved Lucas Wolfe up a row and placed him beside Logan Wagner. Justin Whittal and Cory Eliason made up row five. Freddy Rahmer, Jr. and Brian Borown were paired in row six.

Three Rivers Karting

The talent laden field included Brent Marks in row seven, Lance Dewease and Rico Abreu in row nine, Tyler Courtney in row ten, and Dylan Cisney in row ten.
Balog led Macri into turn one, with Dietrich fighting Peck for third. Dietrich prevailed, and he immediately pressured Macri for the second spot. Dietrich to that on lap two. Macri regained the second spot as the field completed lap five.

Meanwhile, Balog was setting a blistering pace. He was more than two seconds ahead of Macri at one point. However, Macri tracked him down and assumed command on lap eight. Soon thereafter, Dietrich took over second again and he began to reel in Macri.

By the halfway mark, Balog was fading. The top five included Macri, Dietrich, Peck, Mike Wagner, and Scelzi. Logan Wagner was sixth. After Balog came Whittal, Abreu and Marks. Dewease was up to eleventh and he was stalking Marks for a position in the top ten.

Logan Wagner picked up speed as the race went on. He was up to fourth by lap twenty and third by lap twenty-five. While he continued to close in on Dietrich, he was unable to make a move for second in the final rounds.

At the checkers, it was Macri over Dietrich, Logan Wagner, Peck, and Mike Wagner. Whittal was sixth, followed by Scelzi, Abreu, Dewease, and Marks.
Heat wins went to Balog, Eliason, Wolfe, Dietrich, and Halligan. The C Main went to Zach Hampton, with Courtney taking the B Main. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Courtney, who turned in a lap of 16.371 seconds.

In the PASS 305 Sprint undercard, it was Garrett Bard who was the third and final leader of the event. Drew Young started on the pole and led the first ten laps. However, he withdrew from the race after taking the crossed flags. That put Zach Rhodes into the lead, which he held for six rounds before giving way to Bard.
Rhodes held on for second, followed by Mike Melair, Ken Duke, and Jeff Weaver. Justin Mills, Scott Frack, Jimmy White, Tyler Snook, and Josh Spicer completed the top ten.

Bard, Rhodes, Mills, and Frack were the heat winners. The twin B Mains went to Kenny Heffner and Chad Phillips. The second B Main had a wild, three-car crash on the opening lap. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured in the melee.

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Dirt Racing

Labor Day Finale Sunday at Tri-City Raceway Park

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Tri-City Raceway Park

FRANKLIN, PA (September 2, 2022): Tri-City Raceway Park will present its final race of the 2022 season on Sunday, September 4. Instead of the planned two-day special holiday event, the speedway will present a Sunday Thunder card. The standard purse structure will be used for all divisions and Sunday Thunder ticket pricing will apply. Pit gates will open at 2 p.m. and spectator admission will begin at 4 p.m. Racing will commence at 6 p.m., as usual.

The Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprint Cars, the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group 358 Modifieds, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks, and the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks will not be racing for points, as track champions were named following the racing on August 28, Congratulations to A.J. Flick, Kevin Hoffman, Tyler Wyant, and Levi Maskal for their success and thanks to all sponsors, competitors, and fans for their support.

The speedway grounds will be available all weekend for free camping even though racing activity will only be held on Sunday of the holiday weekend. The bonfire will be moved to Saturday night, with the time to be determined. All attending the bonfire will be responsible for their own refreshments.

Three Rivers Karting

“We regret any inconvenience for our racers and fans who were anticipating a two-day program to close out the season,” said track owner Merle Black. “Everybody is welcome to come to the speedway to enjoy camping and to gather with friends before we have our last show of the season on Sunday. The racers will be able to go all-out with no fear of how the outcome will affect the season championships,” he added.

Adult admission on Sunday will be $15 for those aged 16 to 62. Seniors, aged 62 and up, will be admitted for $13, Students aged ten through 16 will be admitted for $10. The children below age of ten will be admitted for free, as usual. The Family Passes will be $45, and that will apply for two adults of any age and two students. Pit Passes will be $30.

Further information about Tri-City Raceway Park can be obtained by calling the track office at 724-967-4601, or by e-mailing the office at tricityracewaypark2020@gmail.com. Or, you can check the web at Tri-CityRacewayPark.com, or the Facebook page at Tri City Raceway Park. Tri-City Raceway Park is located just a few miles north of Franklin, PA, at 3430 State Route 417 in Oakland Township.

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