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.
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.
Alex Ferree Wins Art Osmer Memorial At Lernerville
SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Alex Ferree led wire-to-wire to win Friday night’s 4th Annual Art Osmer Memorial race for the Precise Racing Products Late Model Division at Lernerville Speedway. Kenny Schaltenbrand finished second and Colton Flinner rounded out the podium.
Dan Kuriger captured the checkered flag in the Peoples Natural Gas 410 Sprint Car feature. The victory was Kuriger’s first at ‘The Action Track’ since 2017. Michael Bauer and Brandon Matus finished second and third respectively. AJ Flick finished fourth and leads the points, 229-214, over Matus.
It was a battle of the King’s in the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modified feature. Rex King Sr. held off Rex King Jr. to score his second victory of 2021. Dave Murdick finished third. Jeremiah Shingledecker leads the points by five over Garrett Krummert.
In the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Penn Ohio Pro Stock main event, Chris Schneider scored his 27th feature win at Lernerville holding off points leader Corey McPherson and Brett McDonald.
The action returns on Tuesday, August 3 as Lernerville plays host to a ‘Test and Tune’ night plus a full program for the Blazczak Home Heat Mini Stocks. Racing starts at 7:30 PM while the grandstands are free.
Campbell Claims Grove Win; Locke Doubles in 358s
WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (July 30, 2021) – Matt Campbell held off the heavy hitters to score his second career 410 Sprint Car victory at Williams Grove Speedway. Although he was scored as the leader for all 25 laps, he had to survive the attacks by Danny Dietrich a third of the way through the race and then he had to fend off Lance Dewease in the closing laps. It was Campbell’s first win since taking over the reins of Jerry Parrish’s car following the retirement of his long-time driver, Brain Montieth.
“I was watching the track to see if the rubber was coming in,” Campbell said. After he had trouble passing a lapped car, he knew that it was time to move down in the rubber. On the final two restarts, Campbell had Dewease right behind him. So, Campbell had to keep the car pinned to the inside. “I heard Lance try to roll the top on me, but I just stayed in the rubber.”
Campbell and Dewease were on the front row by virtue of their heat race wins. Third place starter, Danny Dietrich, was also a heat winner. Next to him was Anthony Macri. Jared Esh and Aaron Bollinger were in the third row, with T.J. Stutts and Alan Krimes in the fourth. The fifth row featured Devon Borden and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. The sixth row paired Lucas Wolfe with Dylan Norris.
Campbell jumped out to the lead, but Dewease got a poor start, losing several positions on the opening lap. That put Macri and Dietrich ahead of him, with Bollinger, Rahmer, Esh, Stutts, Borden, and Wolfe fanned out behind him.
With Campbell leading Dietrich, it took Dewease several laps to get rolling. He worked into third, passing Macri with eight in the books. Around that same time, Dietrich caught up to Campbell and he started throwing slide jobs at the leader. Although Dietrich did draw up alongside Campbell a few times, he was never able to slide up in front of him to take the lead away.
“Danny definitely raced me clean,” Campbell noted. “I could see him half way through the corner and I knew if I got on the gas I would pull him off the corner.” The strategy worked for Campbell, and he was able to retain the lead despite the thrusts by Dietrich.
After Dietrich’s bids for the lead failed, he started falling back to Dewease. Dewease chased him through the middle stage of the race before overtaking him with seven laps remaining.
Dewease started to close in on Campbell, and cautions on laps 20 and 22 erased the margin completely. On the first restart, Dewease tried to poke his nose inside of Campbell entering turn one, but Campbell pinched down and did not give Dewease an opening. On the second restart, Campbell committed to the inside line and Dewease went high to try to drive around him. But, Campbell’s car was good in the rubber and he was able to put a couple of car lengths between them.
Campbell went on to the win, besting Dewease by 0.512 seconds. Dietrich was third, followed by Rahmer, Stuttsm Wolfe, Chase Dietz, Macri, Mark Smith, and Bollinger. Macri gave up his top five position when he had to pit to replace a flat right rear tire during one of the final restarts.
The B Main winner was Chris Arnold.
Derek Locke had a much easier time of it, especially in the non-stop nightcap for the 358 Sprints. That one he led wire-to-wire. He patiently worked his way to the front in the opening feature, which was a make-up event from a rained out race a couple of weeks ago. The pair of wins were his fifth and sixth of the season at Williams Grove, and he is undefeated in feature event competition. His winnings for the night were $4,000, better than all but Campbell.
“I was a little tight early, and I had to figure out how to drive teh track,” Locke said after his win in the make-up race. “About halfway through, I knew that I had a good car.” As for the second feature, Locke said that it was a matter of luck because he drew the pole. However, his strategy was to save the tires, and he was never seriously challenged, lapping all the way up to the seventh place car. “I could pass in the rubber,” he explained.
In the opener, Brett Wanner and Cody Fletcher were on the front row, with Rich Eichelberger and Nat Tuckey in the second. Kody Hartlaub and Steve Owings were in the third row, with Travis Scott and Chad Criswell in row four. Matt Findley and Locke were in row five. Row six paired up Tyler Brehm and Devin Adams.
Wanner took the early lead, with Owings, Eichelberger, Fletcher, Tuckey and Hartlaub trailing. Wanner’s lead did not last for long, as his car slowed after just a couple of rounds. Owings inherited the lead, with Eichelberger, Fletcher, and Tuckey fighting for the next few positions.
Meanwhile, Locke was carefully moving forward. He reached sixth by lap seven and he was into the top five at lap ten. By the halfway mark, he was fourth, and he climbed to third on lap 14. A restart bunched the field up for him, and he took over second on lap 17. On the next circuit, he was in the lead.
Locke completed the remaining laps without any difficulty. Owings held on for second, followed by Eichelberger, Fletcher, Scott, Criswell, Tuckey, Chris Frank, Findley, and Hartlaub.
In the nightcap, Locke was on the pole and Findley was next to him. Zachary Cool and John Stehman were in the second row, followed by Justin Foster and Devin Adams. Tuckey and Criswell were in row four, with Frank and Scott next. Eichelberger rolled off in eleventh, and Owings made it an even dozen.
Locke bolted to the lead on the initial start and he was never headed. The field got strung out, with Findley holding second for most of the contest. Later, he gave way to Frank. Findley crossed in third, with Stehman and Foster following. Tuckey and Scott were the last two drivers on the lead lap. Criswell, Owings, and Cool completed the top ten.
The 358 Sprint heat winners were Eichelberger and Locke. There was no B Main.
Next week, Williams Grove Speedway will present the Billy Kimmel Memorial for teh 410 Sprints and the Super Late Models. On the 13th, no racing is presently scheduled due to the Knoxville Nationals. August 20, racing will resume with the 410 Sprints paired up with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. The All Star Circuit of Champions will be in on August 27 for the Jack Gunn Memorial Twin 20s.
Marks Makes Posse Proud
WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (July 24, 2021): Brent Marks declared his allegiance to the Pennsylvania Posse in victory lane at Williams Grove, much to the delight of the substantial crowd on hand for the finale of the 20th Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway, The fans were in a forgiving mood because, regardless of affiliation, he was the first Pennsylvania driver to defeat the World of Outlaws at the Grove in over two years.
Marks was a bona fide member of the Posse before leaving to spend a couple of seasons with the Outlaws. For 2021, his plan was to follow the All Stars Circuit of Champions aboard the CJB Motorsports entry. However, the driver from Myersdale, PA is back in his family-owned Sprint after parting company with the CJB team earlier this season. While Marks spends most of his time racing locally, he does wander off on occasion, such as his recent journey to Eldora Speedway for the King’s Royal events last week.
“The track was very tricky tonight,” Marks said. “We had a lot of trouble with lapped cars,” he added. He also acknowledged his good luck, as he twice lost the lead to last night’s winner, Sheldon Haudenschild. The two lead changes occurred well before the scoring loop and neither was counted as official. On one occasion, Marks was bailed out by a caution for one of those troublesome lapped cars and, on the other, Haudenschild popped a wheelie going down the back stretch after taking the green and Marks gathered himself back up to drive past while Haudenschild fought to regain control.
Haudenschild positioned himself for a repeat performance, starting the thirty lapper on the pole. Donny Schatz was on his flank. Lance Dewease got to start seven rows closer to the front this night, and Marks was lined up next to him. David Gravel was in the third row, along with Carson Macedo. Anthony Macri and Lucas Wolfe had row four, and Aaron Reutzel was matched with Troy Wagaman, Jr. Devon Borden and James McFadden were in row six.
Schatz got the early advantage over Haudenschild, Marks, Dewease, and Macedo. By the time the field got to the scoring loop, though, Marks was into second, and Macedo moved ahead of Dewease.
Schatz reached lapped traffic quickly, catching the backmarkers on lap six. Soon thereafter, Marks was on his tail. Marks took a run at the leader, but could not make the pass. He came back in turn one on lap eight, but he got up over the cushion, and he lost second to Haudenschild briefly. Marks rallied back in turn two and regained second heading down the back stretch.
A couple of laps later, Macedo took a look to the inside of Haudenschild for third. Macedo could not make the pass in turn four and Haudenschild scooted away.
The top six got into single file formation as they worked through traffic. Schatz was the leader, followed by Marks, Haudenschild, Macedo, and Dewease. Gravel and Mcfadden were battling for sixth, with Macri lurking close behind them.
Marks made a bid for the lead in turn one with twenty laps completed. He slid up ahead of Schatz to a thunderous ovation. Haudenschild repeated the maneuver two laps later to take second.
Haudenschild began to catch Marks, who was having his share of troubles with the slower cars he encountered. Haudenschild dove low into turn one and made a slide job to get past Marks. Unfortunately, Freddie Rahmer, Jr. was up on the cushion, and Haudenschild could not clear him. There was contact and Rahmer got into the heavy dirt above the groove. As he came to a stop on the outside of turn two, Haudenschild darted toward turn three.
The resulting caution put Marks back on the point for the restart, but Haudenschild was not quite done yet. When racing resumed, he tried another slider on Marks, but he could not complete the pass. He got a good run off the inside of turn two and surged ahead. As he was doing so, the front wheels raised up and Haudenschild had to struggle to maintain control. He did, but Marks was able to motor by him heading toward turn three.
While that action was going on up front, Dewease dropped to the inside and he tried to pick off Macedo in turn one. He got alongside, but lost his momentum. Macedo pulled away, and now Dewease was under attack from McFadden and Gravel. The cluster of three came off turn four and Dewease was stuck in the middle, fighting to save his position in the top five. He was successful, but he could not catch Macedo in the remaining laps to attempt another pass.
Marks made the appointed rounds without further challenge from Haudenschild. Third went to Schatz, followed by Macedo and Dewease. Macri grabbed sixth in the final laps. McFadden was seventh, then came Gravel, Reutzel, and Wolfe.
The four heat winners were Haudenschild, Marks, Macri, and Macedo. The dash victor was Haudenschild who also set the fastest time in qualifying, at 17.262 seconds. The B Main winner was Logan Schchart, who also garnered the hard charger award. He advanced nine positions in the A Main.
Williams Grove Speedway will return to action on July 30, with a Sprint Car Doubleheader. The 410s will be joined by the 358s on York Racing Club night. The Billy Kimmel Memorial will be held on August 6, featuring the 410 Sprints and the Super Late Models.