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Dirt Racing

Larson Likes Port Royal Payday; Jackson Scores in Suspenseful Sportsmen Race

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Photo by Paul Arch

PORT ROYAL, PA (July 20, 2022) – Kyle Larson, the reigning NASCAR champion, dropped into Port Royal Speedway for the Mid-Summer Classic presented by the World of Outlaws and he carried out $20,000 for his efforts. Larson led the entire distance, but Pennsylvania Posse favorites Danny Dietrich and Anthony Macri made things interesting, especially in the final five laps.

Also celebrating a win this night was Tony Jackson who battled throughout the non-wing Sportsmen feature with Steve Wilbur and Sam Leonard.

Larson noted that the banking in turns one and two was a bit different than it was in his last appearance at the Speed Palace. Nonetheless, he adapted quickly enough to score a heat win, cop the Dash, and dominate the feature.

“I felt like I did a decent job in traffic, then I got stuck and I got worried because Danny (Dietrich) was pretty good down low and I knew where (Anthony) Macri would be. I was watching the board to see if he got to second.” Macri never made it that far, so Larson figured that he had a comfortable margin over Dietrich.

After suffering through a miserable week at Eldora Speedway, Dietrich debated about passing up this race. However, once he heard about the pay-off, he decided to take a spare car down from the trailer and get it ready to race. That was not the least of his problems, though. “Our truck is in the shop right now,” he explained. One of his prime sponsors, Todd Weikert, came through with a truck to get the team to Port Royal, and Dietrich was very appreciative.

Macri, who appeared to be turning the fastest laps in the last third of the race, was pleased with his podium finish. “Maybe this team is just as good without the old crew chief,” he remarked. With the recent departure Jim Shuttlesworth, Macri was calling his own shots, and he said that he tightened up the car for the feature. “It took a while to get into some clean air, but then I found a line that the car liked.” When he did, he came to the front, challenging Dietrich for second in the final five laps.

Larson and Donny Schatz had the front row as a result of the Dash finish. Sheldon Haudenschild and Dietrich were paired in row two. Davis gravel and Jeff Halligan were in the third. Carson Macedo and Brad Sweet were the last of the Dash participants. Then came Macri and Brent Marks. Port Royal champion and current points leader, Logan Wagner, and Spencer Bayston made up row six. Lance Dewease and Devon Borden rolled off from row seven.

Schatz had a slight advantage over Larson on the initial start, but Logan Schuchart’s tip-over at the exit of turn four nullified that. Larson was better prepared for the second attempt, and he led Schatz into turn one before sliding up the track to break his momentum.

Dietrich nestled into third, with Haudenschild, Gravel, and Halligan following.

By lap five, Dietrich was second, but Larson was already starting to stretch his advantage. Schats continued in third, but Haudenschild was grappling with Macedo. Halligan was sixth, and Macri was seventh.

Macri worked his way into sixth soon thereafter, and he was challenging Halligan for the top five. By this point, Dewease had climber into the top ten, but, without the aid of a caution, he was far behind the leaders.

Three Rivers Karting

In the second half of the race, Macri began his march to the front. As he was coming forward, Schatz was beginning to fade.

With Larson cruising out front, Macri climbed into third and he began to close in on Dietrich. They had a good battle for the second spot over the final five laps. While Macri drew up alongside Dietrich several times, he could not get in front of him. Marks came forward as well, but he never became a factor in this race. Another racer making progress in the final five laps was Dewease, who reached seventh by the time the checkers waived.

Larson claimed the top spot, of course, followed by Dietrich, Macri, Marks, and Haudenschild. Halligan, Dewease, Macedo, Borden, and Brock Zearfoss completed the top ten. Zearfoss was the hard charger, coming from seventeenth to tenth without a caution to help his cause.

There were four heats for the thirty-three car field. Wins were chalked up by Schatz, Haudenschild, Larson, and Dietrich. Dietrich’s win was a close one over Sweet and it came on the last lap. Justin Whittal used a mid-race caution to come from fifth to win the B Main. Schatz was the fastest qualifier, turning the big half mile in 16.717 seconds.

Sam Leonard grabbed the lead at the start of the non-wing Sportsmen race. That was fine with Tony Jackson, who was actually disappointed that his son picked the pole. “I wasn’t happy with the pole,” Jackson said. “I like to follow. Leonard got the lead and I followed him.” After a brief contest with Wilbur for second, Jackson set his sights on the leader. He executed a slider in turn one to take the lead. But Leonard came back a couple of laps later to regain the lead.

Jackson regained the lead early in the second half of the race. That left Wilbur to fight with Leonard for the second spot. Wilbur accomplished that by lap fifteen. A caution on that round put Wilbur right behind Jackson for the final restart.

Jackson led the remainder of the race, but Wilbur gave it the old college try. He pulled alongside Jackson entering turn one with two to go, and he nosed ahead approaching turn two. Jackson powered off that corner to take the lead back. The two veterans repeated the performance on the final lap, much to the delight of those remaining in the stands.

“That was a wild one, three of us going at it,” said a tired but enthusiastic Wilbur.

At the finish, it was Jackson over Wilbur and Leonard. Trent Yoder was fourth, with Craig Perigo fifth. Kevin Gutshall, Brett Perigo, Matt Ondek, Gene Eppley, and Jason Failor rounded out the top ten.

Craig Perigo, Jackson, and Epply won their heat races. There was no B Main, as all twenty-seven racers started the feature.

Port Royal Speedway will be dark on Saturday, July 23 in connection with the Williams Grove Summer Nationals. Action will resume on July 30 with the 16th Annual Living Legends Dream Race. The 410 Sprints will race for a $60,000 purse, along with the Super Late Models. On August 6, the 410 Sprints will be at the top of the card, with support from the Super Late Models and the PASS 305 Sprint Cars.The Kids Money Scramble will also take place at intermission. There will be no racing on August 13 in deference to the Knoxville Nationals.

Dirt Racing

Ryan Smith Succeeds at Sharon; Cipriano and Konbau also Score

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Sharon Speedway

HARTFORD, OH (June 1, 2024): Ryan Smith romped to the win at Sharon Speedway on night three of Western Pennsylvania Speedweek despite Dave Blaney’s home field advantage. Smith, a former series champion, had the benefit of starting some five rows ahead of Blaney, but Blaney made an early charge to make things interesting. Meanwhile, Smith was stalking the early leader, Zane DeVault, and Smith sailed by him when DeVault brushed the outside wall coming off turn two. Unfortunately for the fans, a head to head battle between Smith and Blaney never materialized because the track took rubber, and Blaney’s top line which he used so effectively early was no longer there in the final stage of the race.

Ayden Cipriano (Big Block Modifieds) and Jeremy Kornbau (Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 Sprint Cars) also earned significant first wins.
“It’s pretty cool to beat Dave at his own place,” Smith quipped. He explained that he tried to make his car as wide as he could in the early going and, then, he mainly ran the low side when the rubber came in. While that strategy was successful for him, he did admit to having some trouble with lapped cars also using that line as the race progressed. Nonetheless, Smith put enough of them behind him to provide a safe margin of victory over Blaney.

Blaney, who thrilled the partisan crowd with his dash to the front in the early laps, characteristically downplayed his accomplishment. “I had a good start,” he said humbly. Then, he added with a chuckle, “I had a couple of closer calls than an old mane would like.” Blaney was referring to the time in the opening laps when he threaded the needle in turn three between two competitors who were fighting for position. “Then, the track got faster as the race went on,” he commented, making it difficult for him to chase down Smith.

DeVault, who soldiered on for third despite hurting his car, noted, “I tried to win it or wear it on top when I got into the wall, I was just hanging on after that. But, you know me, I’ll hang in there until the end.”

DeVault and Smith were the lucky ones who fished the front row starting spots in the top twelve re-draw promoted by a Lake Erie charter service. Smith had a helper, though, as he chose a child from the stands to be his designated fisherman. Mitch Harble and Logan McCandless drew into the second row, with Chase Metheney and Adam Kekich in the third. Then came Michael Bauer and Dale Blaney. Jordan Poirier and Dan Kuriger had row five, with Dave Kalb and Dave Blaney getting the two remaining fish available.

DeVault seized the early advantage, with Smith staying close. Harble, McCandless, Dale Blaney, and Poirier were next. However, the racer who drew the most attention in the early going was Dave Blaney. He shot from twelfth to seventh on the opening lap by using the high line that no one else dared to try.

Dave Blaney reached fourth by the time that DeVault had his shunt with the outside wall on lap six, and he was third when Matt Farnham stopped because his right rear tire was going flat.

On the ensuing restart, Blaney executed a perfect slider job in turn one to overtake DeVault. Smith, however, was in the lead, and he opened up several car lengths on Blaney.

Three Rivers Karting

Smith was into lapped traffic by the fourteenth round. He was able to pick off the back markers pretty easily. As he advanced through them, the going got tougher and Blaney was able to narrow the margin.

As the race moved into the final stages, Smith had several lapped cars separating himself from his pursuer. They were all running the bottom, and Blaney went back to the high side to try to get back into a position of contention. However, the top groove was no longer there for him, and he could not get past the lapped cars that were keeping pace with the leader. Blaney nestled in behind them and rode out the remaining laps for a second place finish that still satisfied the home town crowd.

DeVault was third, ahead of Dale Blaney and McCandless. Kekich, Poirier, Lee Jacobs, Kuriger, and Mark Smith rounded out the top ten. Jacobs was named the hard charger, at plus twelve.

Once again, five heats were required for the forty-six car field. Chalking up wins were Dave and Dale Blaney, Kekich, Ryan Smith, and Metheney. A.J. Flick and Lance Moss split the twin B Mains. Dave Blaney was the evening’s fastest qualifier with a lap of 15.835 seconds.

With three races complete, Dave Blaney has a 20 point lead over his brother, Dale. A.J. Flick holds down third one point back from Dale. Tim Shaffer and Mark Smith make up the top five.

Ayden Cipriano earned his first career Big Block Modified win, holding off Rex King, Jr. Cipriano benefited from a penalty imposed on leader Rick Regalski for jumping the lap seven restart. That infraction moved Cipriano to the pole and Regalski to third. King raced in the middle groove to move from sixth to second after the green light came on again.

Chas Wolbert was third, Will Thomas fourth, and Brad Rapp fifth. Positions six through ten went to Garrett Krummert, Regalski, Chad Reitz, Mike Kinney, and Steve Barr.

King and Thomas captured heat wins. There was no B Main.

Another first-time winner was Jeremy Kornbau in the Allegheny Sprint Tour A Main. It was the first time the 305 Sprint Cars appeared at the famous oval. Nolan Groves, Brett Brunkenhoefer, Roman Jones, and Jim Pattock were in the top five. Jarrett Rosencrance, Dale Schweikart, Andy Priest, Arnie Kent, and John Scarborough rounded out the top ten. Dale Schweikart, Pattock, and Priest won the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

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Dirt Racing

Flick Wins W PA Speedweek Jean Lynch Classic at Lernerville; Norris, King, and Schneider Also Score

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SARVER, PA (May 31, 2024): A.J. Flick knows how to win at Lernerville Speedway and on the Western Pennsylvania Speedweek tour. He is a seven-time speedway 410 Sprint Car champion and a two-time Speedweek king. He has won both titles for the last two years. He took a big step forward in both title chases by snagging the $4,000 check that went to the winner of the first jean Lynch Classic hosted at Lernerville Speedway.

Also scoring wins on this momentous night were Michael Norris in the Super Late Models, Rex King, Jr. in the Big Block Modifieds, and Christian Schneider in the Pro Stocks.

“The lynch name is synonymous with this place,” Flick said. “Everybody knows how hard Sye (Lynch) would run at this race, but you could see him fading,” Flick explained. He added, “that 28 car (Jordan Poirier) was fast in clean air, but I wanted to keep the win in Apollo,” which is home to both the Lynch and Flick families.

Flick chased down Poirier, who took the lead away from Lynch following the only restart of the race, on lap fourteen. Flick lined up third for that pivotal restart. Although he, too, quickly dispatched Lynch, it took him over ten laps to catch and pass Poirier, who was making his first start at the Action Track.

Poirier was pleased with his maiden voyage, explaining that he had some trouble working his way past unfamiliar lapped cars. He added, “once I saw his (Flick’s) nose, I knew that he was going to get by me.”

Lynch and Poirier were on the front row as a result of the re-draw for the top two from each heat race and the two fastest qualifiers who transferred from their respective heat races. Jeremy Weaver was flanked by Hall of Famer Tim Shaffer, a former Lernerville champion. Carl Bowser and Zane DeVault occupied row three. Behind them were Ricky Peterson and Dave Blaney, another Hall of Famer. Mark Smith and Flick paired off in row five, followed by Lance Moss and Brandon Spithaler.

As the partisan crowd hoped, Lynch raced into turn one ahead of Poirier, Weaver, Shaffer, DeVault, Bowser, Peterson, Mark Smith, and Flick. Lynch was running hard, and he caught the rear of the field in just seven laps. Nonetheless, Poirier stayed close. Shaffer moved into third in the early going, followed by DeVault and Flick. Flick continued his advance, taking third on lap thirteen. He was still a good distance behind the leaders, but a caution on lap fourteen brought them back to him in a hurry.

On the ensuing restart, Poirier executed a slider on Lynch in turn one to take the lead. Lynch fought back coming off turn two, but Poirier made a good run through turns three and four to preserve his lead.

As Poirier began to distance himself from Lynch, Flick worked by Lynch for the second position. It took Flick several laps to catch Poirier. Flick got a good run off turn four and he rode the rim in turns one and two to take the lead away from the rapid Canadian on lap twenty-six.

Flick pulled away in the final four laps to secure the win. Poirier was strong in second, followed by Shaffer, Dave Blaney, and Lynch. Brandon Spithaler raced his way up to sixth. Mark Smith, Dale Blaney, the third Hall of Fame driver in the field, DeVault, and Weaver completed the top ten.

Five heats were required for the forty-six cars that signed in. Bowser, Flick, Dave Blaney, Spithaler, and Poirier captured the checkers. Matt Farnham and Dave Kalb won their respective B Mains. Lynch set the mark in qualifications with a lap of 13.172 seconds.

Heading into the next round, at his own Sharon Speedway, Dave Blaney has a two point margin over Shaffer and Flick in the series points. Dale Blaney and Mark Smith sit fourth and fifth. Norris, Spithaler, Bowser, Weaver, and DeVault make up the top ten.

Three Rivers Karting

In the Super Late Models, a test session proved to be highly successful for Michael Norris. “We tried a lot of different stuff,” he said. “We put our heads together with Mark Richards and Brian Daugherty trying to find something that would work in the slick. If this race is indicative of their combined efforts, it seems as though Norris may be ready for the upcoming Firecracker 100 for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Veteran Chub Frank was on hand to get some needed track time before the Firecracker, and he started from the pole position for the twenty-six lapper. Next to him was Ken Schaltenbrand. Norris lined up third, with Jon Lee as his dance partner. Danny Angelicchio and Michael Duritsky were in the third row. Colton Flinner and Alex Ferree were in row four. Then came Tyler Dietz and Ryan Christoff. The fifth row matched Tyler Wyant with Andy Boozel. Gary Lyle and recent high school graduate Levi Yetter held down row six.

Frank led the parade to turn one, but Schaltenbrand had the momentum on the newly-banked turns one and two. He shot out to the lead coming off turn two. Schaltenbrand led the first eight laps. Frank gave way to Norris for second on lap eight. On the next circuit, Norris used the inside line to overtake Schaltenbrand.

The race remained under the green flag until lap twenty-four, when Wyant surrendered his spot in the top ten by stopping on the back stretch. During that long run, Norris stretched his lead over Frank, Schaltenbrand, Angelicchio, and Flinner. The minor incident set up a green-white-checker finish.

Norris got away cleanly. Frank and Schaltenbrand were not so fortunate, as they lost positions to Flinner. Dietz was another driver who benefited from the late race restart, as he picked up two spots.

At the checkers, it was Norris over Flinner, Frank, Dietz, and Schaltenbrand. Jared Miley, Angelicchio, Lee, Ferree, and Duritsky rounded out the top ten.

Heat winners were Norris, Frank, and Dietz. Miley took the B Main.

Rex King, Jr. and Will Thomas paced the field for the Big Block Modifieds. They ran first and second over the entire twenty-five lap distance. The second row starters, Dave Murdick and Steve Feder, also ran in the top five the entire way.

A caution on lap twenty-one bunched up the field. King and Thomas remained the lead duo, but behind them several positions changed ands in the final four laps.

Behind King and Thomas were Murdick, Garrett Krummert, and Feder. Brad Rapp, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Rick Regalski, Jordan Ehrenberg, and Ayden Cipriano were the next five finishers.

Feder and Krummert took the preliminaries. There was no B Main.

As usual, the Pro Stocks wore the nightcap. Christian Schneider bolted from the pole to take the early lead and he would complete the twenty-lap journey first. Tyler Dietz ran second, with Chris Schneider, Brett Hutira, and Cody Koteles next in line. Jacob Dietz, Tyler Schneider, Mike Bordt, Chase Lambert, and heath Close claimed sixth through tenth positions.

Chris Schneider and Hutira prevailed in their respective heats. There was no B Main.

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Dirt Racing

Norris Nails It at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway

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IMPERIAL, PA (May 30, 2024): Dylan Norris made his first visit to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway a memorable one. The budding talent from Hanover, PA Picked up the win on the opening night of Western Pennsylvania Speedweek, earning $3,500 in the process. To do it, he held off a fast closing Hall of Fame driver, Dave Blaney, and two other decorated veterans, Tim Shaffer and Dale Blaney, were close behind.

“This was our first time here,” Norris said, “and it is definitely different than what we have at home.” Despite having no notes to work from, Norris observed that “we were good right out of the box, we were good on the bottom.”

It did not take Norris very long to figure out that the bottom was where he needed to be. But, it almost cost him the race. “We had some trouble with lapped cars.” Norris said that he tried to make some passes in the middle groove, but “I knew I had to get back down in the rubber.”

Norris made the move back to the inside line soon enough to keep Dave Blaney behind him. “You couldn’t do much except wait for mistakes, and he didn’t make any,” Blaney observed.

John Jerich, a relative newcomer to the sport of 410 Sprint Car racing, had the pole for the twenty lapper. The race was shortened to that distance because teams were experiencing excessive tire wear. Shaffer and Dale Blaney were paired in row two, with Dave Blaney and Ryan Smith, a former Speedweek champion, in row three. The fourth row consisted of Mark Smith and former FAST on Dirt Series champion Brandon Spithaler. Two-time and defending Speedweek king, A.J. Flick lined up inside of Jack Sodeman, Jr., in row five. Taking positions in row six were Carl Bowser, a frequent winner at PPMS, and Aussie Jordyn Charge.

Norris seized control immediately, but the initial start was set aside for a multi-car tangle coming off turn four. Billy Dietrich went over, and he was one of three cars that were unable to resume racing. Michael Bauer and Logan McCandless suffered less damage, but they were also out of the event.

On the second try, Norris rocketed into turn one, and he began to draw away from Jerich, Dale Blaney, Shaffer, and Dave Blaney. Norris began to stretch his advantage until he began to lap slower cars. Meanwhile, Dave Blaney was steadily moving forward, reaching fourth by lap five, third by lap ten, and second by lap fifteen. Blaney then began to whittle away at the lead. He did close to within a couple of car lengths late in the contest, but Norris was flawless.

Three Rivers Karting

Shaffer, Dale Blaney, and Jerich swapped positions in the top five, with Shaffer ultimately coming out on top of his two rivals.

Mark Smith drove a consistent race to claim sixth, ahead of Flick, Spithaler, Ryan Smith, and Bowser.

There were four heats for the Sprinters, with wins going to Spithaler, Mark Smith, Dave Blaney, and Flick. The pair of B Mains belonged to Ricky Peterson and Brandon Matus. The fastest qualifier on the night was Spithaler, with a lap of 16.644 around Dirt’s Monster Half Mile.

The UEMS e-Mods were the primary support division. They went twenty-five laps for $3,000. Jonathan Taylor picked up the win after a spirited battle with K.C. Burdette. “It’s good to be back here, we got to run here when we were younger,” Taylor said.

Burdette and Jonathan Taylor started on the front row, and they set sail at the start of the race. Burdette led the first four laps, but Taylor drove by him on lap four. Burdette held second about the next fifteen laps. On lap twenty, Burdette came off the bottom of turn four to take the lead at the scoring loop, but Jonathan Taylor rallied in turn one to regain the lead.

Gregory Moore charged into second in the closing laps and he got within striking distance of Jonathan Taylor. Burdette nabbed third, ahead of Brian Ruhlman, and Dustin Demattia, Joel Watson, Mitch Thomas, Evan Taylor, Nate Young, and Bud Watson were sixth through tenth.

Heat wins went to Jonathan Taylor and Burdette. There was no B Main. The evening’s fast time was turned in by Thomas, with a lap of 21.120.

The Hobby Stocks closed out the night. Logan Koteles went wire-to-wire for the win. Marc Corio followed him to the checkers. Garrett O’Patchen, Leroy Brown, and Jonathan Koteles completed the top five.

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