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Sheppard Slays STSS Foes, Collects $65,000

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Port Royal Speedway

PORT ROYAL, PA (March 15-16, 2024): Matt Sheppard dominated the Speed Showcase 75 at Port Royal Speedway. He led the final 55 laps of the event, which was carried over from last October due to inclement weather. The $50,000 payday also rolled over. In addition, Sheppard’s win clinched the 2023 Elite Series point title which was worth an additional $15,000. That mini series was also set to conclude last Fall.

Sheppard shot from fourth to the front on a lap 20 restart. “I was excited to restart on the outside, I was hoping to get to second,” Sheppard noted. “But Ryan (Godown) had a problem, and I was leading,” Sheppard explained. “Then I was concerned about saving the tires.”

Sheppard was masterful at driving in conservation mode. “We went harder than a 48, I don’t know what Billy (Decker) had.” Decker, who climbed from twenty-fourth to second, was able to close in on Sheppard, but he could not get close enough to pull off a pass for the win despite several late-race cautions which set up double file restarts. Decker surmised that he may have needed a longer green flag run to get the job done, but a rash of flat tires and mechanical failures made the second half of the race to be contested in short spurts. “I didn’t like our chances when the track was supersonic, but when it slowed down, we were good,” he explained.

Third place finisher, Loudon Reimert, echoed Decker’s assessment. He observed that his car “wasn’t very good in the beginning, but when it started to slick off, we were good.” Reimert was satisfied to finish on the podium with two of the best in the sport.

Ronnie Johnson drew the pole for the seventy-five lapper which started thirty-seven machines. Next to him was Mike Mahaney. Ryan Godown and Ryan Watt made up row two. Jeff Strunk and Jessica Friesen were in the third row. Then came Mat Williamson and Danny Creeden. Matt Sheppard was inside row five, with Mike Gular beside him. Alex Payne and Billy Pauch, Jr. occupied row six.

RJ blasted out to the early lead over Mahaney, Godown, Watt, Strunk, Williamson, and Creeden. Sheppard, Payne, and Gular followed. Mahaney slipped high on lap nine allowing Godown to take second. A lap later, Godown made a slide job stick in turn three to assume the lead. Johnson continued in second, ahead of Mahaney and Watt. Strunk was battling Williamson for fifth. Their private contest continued through much of the race. Mahaney moved into second just before the first caution, for debris, on lap twelve.

On the restart, Williamson made some aggressive moves to grab third, behind Godown and Ronnie Johnson. Watt and Sheppard made up the balance of the top five. Within a couple of circuits, Sheppard displaced Watt, setting the stage for the pivotal restart.

Afterwards, Sheppard ran comfortably ahead of Godown, Strunk, Williamson, and Johnson for the next few laps. Godown got pinched off against the outside wall midway down the backstretch, and both Strunk and Williamson scooted by. He battled back, though, and regained second by lap thirty-five.

Sheppard led Godown, despite some cautions, through lap forty-nine. Godown brought out a caution on that lap, surrendering the second position. That moved Williamson into second, but he was unable to hold that for very long. Decker was on the march, reaching second by lap fifty.

While Sheppard led Decker the rest of the way, Strunk and Williamson resumed their rivalry, albeit for third. Following a lap fifty-nine restart, Williamson grabbed third and Strunk started to fade. He fell out of the top five, as Tim Fuller and Loudon Reimert began to move forward.

The final caution came out on lap sixty-nine. On the ensuing restart, Reimert charged into third. He held the position to the checkers. Meanwhile, Fuller was applying the pressure to Williamson, and he succeeded in displacing Money Mat in the final laps.

Sheppard took the win, followed by Decker, Reimert, Fuller, and Williamson. Jack Lehner, Marc Johnson, Alex Yankowski, Max McLaughlin, and Anthony Perego completed the top ten.

Three B Mains were spun off to complete the starting field. Taking the victories were Austin Hubbard, Lehner, and Yankowski.

The 602 Crate Sportsmen presented a fifty lap affair to conclude their portion of the program. Paulie Hartwig and Travis Hill shared the front row for the start of that contest. Brian Calabrese and Logan Watt were in the row behind. David Rogers and Jean-Francois Tessier were in the third row. Jax Yohn and Brian Krummel were in row four. David Miloszar and Howie Finch were paired up in row five, followed by Ethan Bille and Chris Jakubiak.

Hill led in the early going, with Calabrese, Hartwig, Rogers, and Watt following. Rogers replaced Hill out front before an eleven car pile-up entering turn three. In the melee, Adrianna Delliponti turned over, but she was unhurt in the process.

Rogers led through lap twenty-six, when Hill made a pass for the lead coming off turn two. The lap was not completed before the next caution, so the pass was nullified. Rogers was restored as the leader, and he was able to keep Hill and all others at bay despite two cautions that bunched up the field twice. In that run, Joe Toth climbed into second, but the racer to watch was Watt. The teen had worked his way back into the top five after a pit stop during the clean-up of the lap nine wreckage.

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When Toth took the lead on lap forty-three, Watt followed him into second. A caution with six to go put Watt on Toth’s back bumper for the restart. Watt muscled to the bottom of turn one and took the lead from the more experienced Toth. Toth got a chance to redeem himself on lap forty-eight, but Watt was up to the challenge.

Watt took the win, much to the delight of the large crowd on hand. Toth was second, followed by Kyle Smith, Steve Davis, and Sean Imbeault. Brandon Edgar, Krummel, Zach Sobokta, Bill, and Michael White were the next five finishers.

“That was the only shot I had,” said the happy winner. “I followed him about the whole race. I had to go for it,” Watt explained.

Steve Davis, Michael White, and Adam White took the three B Mains that started the day.

The Pro Stocks were the opening feature of the day. “Cousin Luke” Horning and Shane Playford paced the field for the twenty-five lapper. Denis Gauvreau and Bret Belden were in the row behind. Steve Cosselman and Bruno Cyr had row three covered. Ken Gates and Rich Crane were in row four.

Playford took the early lead, but he was closely followed by Gauvreau. The action was quite intense through the first fifteen laps, which ran non-stop. Gauvreau ducked inside of the leader coming through turn three. They made contact, sending both cars spinning up toward the wall. Several others were collected. Somehow, Crane was able to avoid the incident and he inherited the lead for the restart.

Crane led the next ten laps, which were run without any interruptions. Cyr was a close second. He was followed by Jay Fitzgerald, Ken Gates, and Devon Camenga. Jason Casey, Jay Casey, Playford, Johnny Holmes, and Cosselman completed the top ten.

In Friday qualifying, 65 Modifieds, 83 602 Crate Sportsmen, and 16 Pro Stocks took to the track.

Ryan Watt, who was fastest in timed hot laps with a round of 18.836 seconds, cruised to a win in the first qualifier for the Modifieds. Jeff Strunk, Bob McGammon, and Dalton Slack also earned starting spots in the Speed Showcase 75. Brian Swartzlander was challenging for a transfer when he struck the wall at the exit of turn four. He retired due to significant front end damage.

Fonda Speedway regulars Ronnie Johnson and Jessica Friesen dominated the second qualifier. Billy Pauch, Jr. charged from row six to take third. The final transfer went to Danny Bouc.

Ryan Godown outlasted Mike Gular in the third qualifier. Jimmy Phelps and Louden Reimert also advanced. Reimert also came from row six. Mike Trautschold flipped his car in a turn four melee that also sidelined Danny Varin and Matt Caprara. He was not hurt.

Mike Mahaney beat the pole sitter, Matt Sheppard, into turn one and kept him at bay the rest of the way in the fourth qualifier. Max McLaughlin and Erick Rudolph were third and fourth. Western PA drivers Rex King, Jr. and Garrett Krummert did not qualify.

Mat Williamson dominated the fifth qualifier. Danny Creeden, Matt Stangle, and Michael Maresca also locked into the big dance. Maresca made a slick move to get the advantage over Jack Lehner and Billy Decker in the last 50 yards of the race.

Qualifiers in the Sportsmen ranks went to David Rogers, Jax Yohn, Howie Finch, Brian Krummel, Logan Watt, and Travis Hill. Cedric Gauvreau was not injured when his car burst into flames when he was attempting to exit the track after finishing third in his qualifier. Krummel was the best in time hot laps with a lap of 2-.832 seconds.

“Cousin Luke” Horning and Denis Gauvreau shared the honors in the Pro Stock qualifiers.

Port Royal Speedway will open its regular season next weekend with a three division program consisting of 410 Sprint Cars, Super Late Models, and Limited Late Models.

The next event for the Short Track Super Series contingent will be held on Tuesday, May 7, at the Delaware International Speedway. The Modifieds will do battle in the Diamond State 50. The Sportsmen will also compete that night.

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Dirt Racing

Borden Thrills at Port Royal; Robinson, Covert, and Hart also Score

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PORT ROYAL, PA (April 13, 2024): Defending track champion, Devon Borden, battled Danny Dietrich in the final laps of the 410 Sprint Car race at Port Royal Speedway, bringing fans to their feet. Borden’s first win of the season came by 1.219 seconds over Dietrich, who won the season opener. Borden earned $5,800 for the effort.

“I just knew that I was going to have to go where they weren’t and drive the $h!+ out of it,” Borden said as he struggled to catch his breath. Starting twelfth, Borden knew that he had to make a big push early to get to the front with several heavy hitters starting ahead of him. “I had to make the top work before it went away.” He was able to charge to third in just nine laps and it only took him three more to reach second. Getting that final position was quite a bit harder to accomplish. “The last three laps were pretty hectic, and things had to play out in our favor.”

Borden gave props to his crew chief, Chris Shuttlesworth. “We didn’t start out very good, but now we have it going.”

A modified version of the PA Speedweek format was used for this program. The only deviation was the use of group time trials to set heat race line-ups. In the Speedweek format, each driver times against the whole field; whereas, the group approach only pits the racers against the same cars that will run in the same heat race. The heat race winners and the fastest car to qualify draw for starting positions at the front of the field. The remainder are seeded by their heat race finishes. B Main transfers make up the final rows.

The luck racers were Lucas Wolfe and Steve Buckwalter. Behind them were Dietrich and Logan Wagner. Dylan Cisney, the Mayor of Port Royal was paired up with Jeff Halligan in row three. The fourth row belonged to Gerard McIntyre, Jr. and Jake Karklin. Mike Wagner and Blane Heimbach claimed row five. T.J. Stutts was inside Borden in row six.

Buckwalter sailed into turn one on the outside and began to pull away from his pursuers. Dietrich settled into second, with Logan Wagner a close third. Wolfe fell back to fourth, followed by Karklin, Halligan, Cisney, Heimbach, Borden, and McIntyre. Buckwalter held control for the first six rounds. However, Dietrich closed in on him when Buckwalter encountered lapped traffic.

Dietrich became more aggressive on lap seven, sliding ahead of Buckwalter in turn three. Buckwalter turned back under him in turn four to regain the lead as they thundered down the long front stretch. Dietrich fought back through turns one and two, coming off the bottom of turn two with the lead. This time around, it was Buckwalter’s turn to slide for the lead in turn three. Dietrich crossed over in four to assume command as they completed lap eight. Meanwhile, Borden was making steady progress to the third position, but he was a good distance behind the lead duo.

When Kassidy Kreitz slowed to a stop on the back stretch on lap later, that eliminated the deficit for Borden. He got to start right behind Dietrich and Buckwalter. Borden took advantage of the opportunity, picking up the second spot just three laps after the race resumed.

It took Borden a few more laps to close the gap on the leader. Dietrich began picking his way through the slower cars, and Borden closed in. However, he could not make a move for the lead, as he seemed to have poor timing when approaching the lapped cars.

With just a few laps remaining, though, the front two cars broke free of the slower cars. With no traffic separating himself from the leader, Borden was able to press for the lead.

Over the final three laps, Dietrich and Borden swapped the lead several times, much to the delight of the fans. Borden took the lead for good entering turn three on the final lap. Dietrich dove low while Borden kept his momentum up on the cushion. Dietrich scrubbed off some speed coming through turn four, and Borden scooted ahead for the win.

Buckwalter turned in a creditable performance for third. Chase Dietz came on in the final laps to get fourth. Logan Wagner slipped to fifth in the final tally. Wolfe, Halligan, Karklin, Cisney, and Heimbach completed the top ten.

Three Rivers Karting

Dietrich, Buckwalter, Wolfe, and Cisney chalked up the heat wins. Justin Whittal prevailed in the B Main. Dietrich was fastest in Group one and overall, with a time of 17.113 seconds.

In the Super Late Models, Dillan Stake and Chad Myers brought the field to the green. Jeff Rine and Ross Robinson were right behind them. Shaun Jones and Colton Flinner were in row three, ahead of Brian Bernheisel and Dylan Yoder. Row five matched Tyler Emory and Chris Casner. Tim Wilson and Matt Cosner completed the top twelve.

Myers grabbed the early lead, with Robinson hot on his heels. Stake, Rine, Flinner, and Yoder followed in close formation. Myers rode along in the middle groove, and Robinson searched high and low for a place to try to make a pass. Robinson finally settled in on the inside, and he began to chip away at Myers’ lead.

Robinson came off the bottom of turn two and powered ahead of Myers just before the halfway point in the contest. Robinson started to draw away from Myers, but a caution on lap fourteen wiped out his advantage. Myers could not get a run on the Delaware racer when the action resumed. Instead, Myers was under attack from Flinner, Eckert, Stake, and Rine.

Flinner worked his way into second, bringing Eckert along into third. Myers continued on fourth with Stake on his tail.

At the checkers, it was Robinson ahead of Flinner by 3.806 seconds. Eckert, Myers, and Stake completed the top five. Next to cross were Rine, Yoder, Cosner, Jones, and Jason Covert.

The four heat winners were Robinson, Rine, Myers, and Stake. Gregg Satterlee won the B Main.

Robinson was relived to capture the win, his first at the Speed Palace. “We got lucky with the pill draws,” he said. Robinson said that he changed his set-up after hot laps, reverting to the combination that brought him a win recently at his hometown track, the Georgetown Speedway.

The top ten racers from the A Main were inverted for an Australian pursuit immediately following the A Main. Covert, who raced hard just to make it to the tenth spot in the A Main, earned the pole for the pursuit, which paid $1,000 to the winner. He was able to stay out front for the entire ten laps. “It just goes to show how even we all are,” he said. “We were inverted and the clean air on my nose made all the difference. I could come off the corners wherever I wanted.” Jones, Cosner, Yoder, and Rine were the balance of the top five. Eckert and Robinson were the other finishers. Flinner, Myers, and Stake were the drivers eliminated in the race.

Devin Hart went wire to wire in the twenty lap Limited Late Model nightcap. Tommy Slanker ran second in the early going before fading to fifth at the finish. Jared Fulkroad, Trent Brenneman and Shawn Shoemaker were the racers who moved ahead of him. Kenny Yoder, Ryan Zook, Casey Steinhoff, Lane Snook, and Jaxton Garman rounded out the top ten.

The pair of heats went to Brenneman and Zook. There was no B Main.

A three division program will be held next weekend, with the 305 Sprints joining the 410 Sprints and Super Late Models. The Keith Kauffman Classic for the 410 Sprints will be on April 27, with support coming from the USAC East Coast Sprints and the Wingless Sportsmen. Then, on Sunday, April 28, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirst Series will invade the speedway. Limited Late Models will also be on the card.

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Dirt Racing

Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Cancels Saturday Program; Pivots To Flood Relief Drive

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IMPERIAL, PA (April 13, 2024) Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway is pivoting to flood relief instead of racing Saturday night after torrential rains the past few days caused flooding all over Western Pennsylvania.  PPMS is working with the UEMS Racing Series to find a suitable date for both parties to make up the event.

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The Speedway instead is holding a relief drive from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. to help those affected by the flood.

UPDATE: PPMS was able to split the total collection up between both Sturgeon Vol. Fire Dept. and Oakdale Hose Company. From there, the fire companies will administer the collected items to other organizations or directly to those in need. We were fortunate enough to collect a large volume of just about every necessity. Any items that are not claimed during this process will be stored and administered as needed in the future.

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Dirt Racing

Dietz Dominates Day Race at Lincoln

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Lincoln Speedway

ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (April 7, 2024): Chase Dietz returned to his roots to capture his tenth career win at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway. With the weather changing up the weekend’s racing plans, Dietz was able to race at Lincoln because the show was postponed a day. Dietz, who has long been a regular at the track, will now be concentrating his efforts on Saturdays at the Port Royal Speedway, where he debuted yesterday as the new driver of the famous Zemco number one. He was back in his own machine for this one, and it was like he never left.

“I plan to be back whenever I can,” Dietz said happily. “This is the track where I got my start and I really enjoy racing here.” But, the offer to drive for John and Pee Wee Zemaitis was one that he could not refuse.

Sunny skies and a slight breeze produced a tricky racing surface. “It definitely was unique,” Dietz observed. “It was kinda patchy. Fred (Putney, the masterful track preparer), sprinkled it and that pushed things up.”

Dietz, who started on the pole and went wire-to wire, noted “it was kinda tough, running out front. I was searching around looking for rubber.” He found enough to maintain his advantage over a fast-closing Matt Campbell.

Campbell, who raced his way into second while fighting through some heavy traffic, surprised all by saying that he liked racing on the daytime surface. “It gave me the chance to move around.” He added that he thought that he learned some things that he can carry over to the normal night time racing.

The race was run according to PA Speedweek procedures. So a re-draw shuffled the top eight racers. Dietz and Aaron Bollinger were the fortunate ones to pick front row starting positions. Beyond them were Tyler Ross and Campbell. Emerson Axsom and Kody Hartlaub made up row three. Cameron Smith and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. were in row four. The fifth belonged to Justin Whittal and Dallas Schott. Chad Trout and Danny Dietrich completed the first half of the field.

Three Rivers Karting

The original start was called back because Aussie Greg Newton took a spectacular spill between turns three and four on what would have been the opening lap. He was unhurt, but could not continue in the event.

On the second try, Dietz again blasted to the front and he planted the right rear tire in the moisture that Putney laid down on the outside line during the intermission. Bollinger did likewise, while Cambell, Ross, Hartlaub, Rahmer, Jr., and Axsom fanned out behind them.

The front three remained unchanged through the first seven laps. Campbell picked off Bollinger in traffic on lap weight, and he would hold onto that position for the remainder of the non-stop thirty lapper.

Bollinger and Ross were putting on a good show for the third spot. Ross assumed control of the position by lap ten, but a new player was in the mix. Danny Dietrich reached the top five by the halfway mark and he was looking to advance. He quickly dispatched Bollinger, but it took him several laps to catch and overtake Ross. He was able to do it with less than five laps in the contest.

Dietz completed his tour in eight minutes and nineteen and a quarter seconds. His margin of victory was 0.845 seconds over Cambell, Danny Dietrich was third. Bollinger got Ross in the waning laps. Positions six through ten went to Devon Borden, Whittal, Rahmer, Jr., Axsom, and Smith.

The four heat winners were Bollinger, Campbell, Axsom, and Ross. The B Main victory went to Reese Nowotarski. Dietz set the fastest time of the day, 13.878 seconds. He edged Rahmer, Jr. by a mere one-thousandth of a second.

Lincoln Speedway will return to its usual Saturday night slot on April 13. Joining the 410 Sprints on Golf Cart Services Night will be the USAC East Coast Sprints. April 20 will be the annual Weldon Sterner Memorial paying a whopping twenty thousand dollars to the winner. The 358 Sprints will provide the support for that one. Another 410 and 358 Sprint doubleheader will close out the month of April. Starting time will be 6 p.m. for each of those events.

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