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Macri, Wagner, Heimbach, Sweigart, and Bright are Five Fast Fellows at Port Royal Speedway

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Port Royal Speedway

PORT ROYAL, PA (August 22, 2020): Five different Sprint Car drivers visited victory lane at the Speed Palace. Grabbing the $10,000 paycheck in the Legends Dream Race was Anthony Macri. Also winning in the 410 Sprint class were Logan Wagner and Blaine Heimbach. The 305 Sprint winner was Nitro Nick Sweigart. Alex Bright won his first ever Sprint Car race for the USAC East Coast wingless Sprints.

The first feature to hit the track was the make-up race from the Living Legends Night. It was a 30 lap contest. Former champions Logan Wagner and Brock Zearfoss had the front row, with current points leader Brent Marks flanked by perennial favorite and former champ Lance Dewease in row two. Tyler Bear and Anthony Macri lined up next. Steve Buckwalter and T.J. Stutts were in row four with Ryan Smith and Ryan Taylor in row five.

Logan Wagner zoomed into the lead at the drop of the green, followed by Dewease, Zearfoss, Macri, Marks, Stutts, and Bear. Dewease showed Wagner his nose on several occasions, including the charges into turn one following restarts on laps four and nine. However, the outside line was the fastest way around the big track, and Wagner was able to keep his momentum, and the lead.

Macri also found the high line to his liking and he chased down Dewease for second with eleven laps in the books. Meanwhile, Marks moved up an notch in the running order, while Zearfoss kept Stutts, Heimbach, and Taylor at bay.  Macri began to close in on Logan Wagner as the race neared the midpoint. On lap 18, Macri slid by in turns one and two to grab the lead. Dewease had a comfortable margin over Marks, who also had distanced himself from Zearfoss.

The final caution on lap 20 set up a ten-lap run to the checkers. Macri was fastest in the clean air and he pulled away from Wagner with ease. Dewease challenged Wagner for second in the closing laps, but he could not make the pass when it counted. Marks and Zearfoss rounded out the top five. Stutts held off a charge from Jeff Halligan, who started 18th on the grid. Heimbach lost a couple of positions in the final laps. Taylor and Dylan Cisney completed the top ten.

Macri rebounded from two weeks of disappointments to celebrate his fifth win at Port Royal this season. “It feels good to get a win again,” he noted. “The last two weeks we felt like shit. We didn’t do well at Knoxville and we junked a car last night.” Fortunately, Macri and his team assembled this machine this week and tested it at Port Royal on Thursday night. “Normally, I don’t like a new car, but this one feels pretty good.”

The second 410 feature race was the third main event to pull onto the track. It was a make-up from the previous week when rains came during a clean-up of a wreck on the opening lap of the race. The restart line-up had Logan Wagner on the pole again with Cisney next to him. Taylor was paired up with Mike Wagner in the second stanza. Heimbach and Paulie Colagiovanni were in row three, with Lucas Wolfe and Tyler Bear in row four. Halligan and Curt Stroup were in row five for the start.

Wagner again assumed command, running the high groove. This time, however, he was never headed as the racers ran off all 20 laps without a single interruption. Cisney raced along in second but never was a contender for the win. Mike Wagner held third, with Wolfe completing the distance in fourth. Heimbach maintained his fifth place position throughout as well.

Ryan Taylor fell back to sixth. Brent Marks put on quite a display coming from the eleventh row, as he was one of the cars involved in the opening lap crash last week. Halligan, Colagiovanni and Stutts completed the top ten.

“I can’t believe it, here we are!” exclaimed Wagner after the victory. “We went half this season and here we are in the new victory lane.”

The final feature of the night was the regularly scheduled 410 A Main. This time, Jeff Miller was on the pole and Ryan Taylor had the second position. Heimbach and Tyler Reeser were in the second row. Wolfe and Cisney had the third row. The Wagners, Mike and his son, Logan, were in the fourth row, with Macri and Dewease in row five.

Taylor took the lead in this race, which also went non-stop. Miller settled into second, followed by Reeser, Heimbach, Wolfe, and Cisney. By lap five, Heimbach reached second and he was charging after the leader. Miller, Cisney and Logan Wagner were mixing things up for top five spots.

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Heimbach caught Taylor by the halfway mark. He slipped by on the insuide of turn two a few laps later. Taylor continued in second until just a handful of laps were left in the race. Logan Wagner sailed by and he set his sights on Heimbach. While Wagner was able to get the fans excited by closing in on the leader, he could not pull off the double this night. He crossed the finish line several car lengths behind Heimbach.

Taylor held on for third. Marks came from the middle of the field to get fourth. Wolfe crossed in fifth with a sour engine. Macri and Dewease were next. Reeser, Cisney, and Mike Wagner completed the top ten.

The four heat winners for the regular show were Miller, Halligan, Logan Wagner, and Taylor. A.J. Flick won the B Main.

“We were better all night tonight,” Heimbach said. “Tonight, every time we were out on the track, we got a little better.” He explained that he made small changes to the car as the night went on. “We just made little changes, you’ve got to make small changes so you don’t take yourself out of it,” he explained. Heimbach was relieved to get the win, as he has been struggling for most of the season. Heimbach was quite tired, noting that the heat took its toll. “We just had to keep moving, we didn’t have much of a break between races.”

The 305 Sprint feature was a quick one as well. Nick Sweigart took the lead and set a fast pace. “It’s nice to start up front every now and then, and I got to capitalize on it tonight.”

While Sweigart ran out front, multiple winner Garrett Bard pulled into second with six laps remaining. He was able to close in on the leader, but he could not make a bid for the win. Dave Grube, Doug Dodson, and Domenic Melair rounded out the top five. Larry McVay, Kassidy Kreitz, Landon Price, Erin Statler, and Devin Adams ran sixth through tenth.

Preliminaries went to Bard, Melair, Jimmy White, and Dodson. Dylan Smith won the B Main.

In the USAC East Coast 360 Sprints, Alex Bright went from fourth to second on the opening lap. Soon thereafter, he was in the lead. It was not easy for him, though, as Steve Drevicki followed him into second. Drevicki and Bright went at it the rest of the way, as they were easily the class of the field.

“This was just the third race with the car,” Bright commented. “It was fun racing with Drevicki just like we did with the ARDC (Midget club). I knew I had to get a good start. It was shoving just a bit and I knew I was going to get a slider from Drevicki and that yello (on lap 24 of 25) guaranteed it, but we got a good start.”

Following the former Midgeteers was Davey Franek, Billy Vaninwegen, and Chris Allen, Jr. Bill Unglert, Christian Bruno, Shawn Donath, David Swanson and J.R. Berry were the next five to cross the line.

Heat wins wentto Drevicki, Franek, and Kevin Nouse. There was no B Main for the wingless racers.

Port Royal will host the biggest Late Model Race in the mid-state next week. Starting Thursday and continuing through Saturday, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be in town. Set to make his Dirt Late Model debut is the nation’s hottest open wheel racer, Kyle Larson! Can he master yet another dirt track discipline? Come out to find out for yourself.

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Local Racing

Pennsylvania Racing Economic Impact Surveys Released

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania (MCP) is sending out economic impact surveys to Pennsylvania race tracks, teams and racing related entities.

The data collected from the surveys will be compiled by Washington & Jefferson College professors Rob & Leslie Dunn, who along with the MCP, will produce a study on the range and economic impact of the racing industry in the Keystone State.

The economic impact study will be a valuable tool for race tracks, teams and marketing professionals in their efforts to attract partners, sponsors and other assets that may be available throughout the State.

Race teams are needed to take part in the survey!  Here is link to the team survey: https://forms.gle/XWTehM4nsKGfzTC58

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Fans are also asked to help the MCP in the efforts.  Here is a link to the fan survey so take a few minutes of your time to support race tracks and teams in this endeavor: https://forms.gle/vEcZR5XJbQHKPBLLA

Marketing and media professionals have a survey that the MCP is asking them to complete.  Here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/EX32bbXubANUaUGr7

Race tracks are also participating in the survey, if a track has not received a survey directly from the MCP, here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/fkhuwgg3EDvFTGuR7

The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania hopes to have the Economic Impact Study completed by the start of the 2021 racing season.

Editors Note: Robert Johnson of the Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania will be one of the guests on the next episode of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.

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Local Racing

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek Is Coming Back

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SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Five local dirt tracks are teaming up to bring back Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek for the 2021 season.

Michael’s Mercer Raceway (Mercer, PA), Thunder Mountain Speedway (Brookville, PA), Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA), Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) and Tri City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA) are the five tracks where the owners and promoters have aligned to bring back the event for the 410 Sprint Cars.

“The ‘410 Sprint Car’ division in the local area has been through many ups-and-downs over the last two decades, but there’s no doubt it’s as strong now as it ever was”, said Dave Willoughby, Sharon Speedway’s General Manager. “You see our guys competing for spots up front everywhere they go, and that even includes out at some of the tougher Central PA tracks.”

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Additional details will be released in the near future regarding the established point fund and other race night details.

Here’s the full schedule:

  • Wednesday, June 2nd – Michael’s Mercer Raceway
  • Thursday, June 3rd – Thunder Mountain Speedway
  • Friday, June 4th – Lernerville Speedway
  • Saturday, June 5th – Sharon Speedway
  • Sunday, June 6th – Tri City Raceway Park

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek was previously run from 1993-2000 by the All-Star Circuit of Champions.

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Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.

Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.

Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.

“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”

“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”

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One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge.  The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.

The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.

“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”

Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event.  Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.

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