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Dietrich and Duke Declare Victories at Port Royal

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Photo: Paul Arch

PORT ROYAL, PA (April 6, 2024): After several attempts were foiled by wet weather, Port Royal Speedway finally got its first Sprint Car action in the books. Danny Dietrich benefited from a postponement at Lincoln Speedway to get in an extra race at the Speed Palace, and he edged out Devon Borden on a critical late race restart to earn the victory. The Keystone Racesaver Classic was carried over from last Fall due to weather issues, and former IMCA and Port Royal champion Ken Duke chalked up his first win in the prestigious event for the 305 Sprint Cars.

Dietrich chased Borden for most of the contest, but he was able to get to the inside line entering turn one when it mattered most. Borden was caught in no man’s land–the dreaded middle groove–and he could not fight back to regain the lead. Dietrich explained that his winning move was simply a matter of having more experience at the track, especially in day racing.

“We’ve been pretty good here in the daytime,” Dietrich said modestly. “We’ve got a lot of different stuff on this car and we changed a lot after the hot laps.” “He (Borden) did a good job with what he had. His car was set up differently than ours and you could see that.”

Dietrich had tried but failed to make a pass on Borden in turn one on several occasions during the race. He tried to slide him, he tried to run the inside line, he even tried the high side, all to no avail, as Borden was always able to counter whatever moves Dietrich tried. “I could drive up to his bumper, trying to get him to miss the rubber, and I’d miss the rubber,” Dietrich observed.

Jeff Halligan and Lynton Jeffrey were paired up on the front row for the start of the first 410 Sprint Car show of the 2024 season. Billy Dietrich and Borden had row two, with Lucas Wolfe and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. in row three. Corey Day and Chase Dietz claimed row four, with Gerard McIntyre, Jr. and John Karklin behind them Danny Dietrich and Lance Dewease were set to depart from row six.

On the initial start, there was contact between Halligan and Jeffrey, who turned sideways coming off turn four. He headed nose-first toward the inside, and all the other drivers had to scatter. Most made it through with little or no damage. But Jeffrey and McIntyre flipped and several others were collected. Needless to say, the line-up changed considerably for the second try at green.

Take two resembled the first, as there was contact between Halligan and Billy Dietrich in turn four, but there were no chaotic consequences.

Devon Borden surged to the front using the high line in turns one and two on the opening lap. But the remarkable moves were made by Danny Dietrich, who navigated from eighth to second by the time the racers reached the scoring loop for the first time. Halligan checked in at third, followed by Billy D., Wolfe, and Dietz. The field completed only one more round before T.J. Stutts slowed to a stop.

On the ensuing restart, Borden and Danny Dietrich separated themselves from the rest of the field. Halligan and brother Billy continued in third and fourth, but Dietz, Dewease, and Wolfe were fighting for fifth. Dewease took over fifth by lap ten, and fourth five laps later. By then, however, the first three had pulled away.

Dewease was turning the fastest laps of the race trying to cut the margin. Just as he was approaching Halligan, the caution flew on lap twenty-two due to the flat right rear on Rahmer’s car.

Double D took advantage of the restart to get a run on Borden. The tow racers hit turn one simultaneously, but Dietrich had the preferred line. Borden was stuck in the middle, and there was no grip. Dietrich drove the low line perfectly and he scooted away from Borden with ease.

The final caution came on lap twenty-four when Blane Heimbach got a flat right rear too.

The final restart was uneventful. Dietrich led the parade into turn one, and no passes were made in any of the key positions.

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Danny Dietrich took the checkers ahead of Borden, Halligan, Dewease, and Billy Dietrich. Dietz took sixth in his first race for the Zemco team. Wolfe, Karklin, Logan Wagner, and Dylan Cisney completed the top ten.

Heat wins went to Dietz, Day, Rahmer, and Wolfe. Dylan Norris prevailed in the B Main.

The held over 305 feature had Drew Young and Jason Roush on the front row, with Roger Irvine and Jeff Weaver, Jr. in row two. Kenny Heffner and Nick Sweigart were in the third row. Doug Dodson and Owen Dimm were next in line. Ken Duke was paired with Kruz Kepner in row five. Zach Rhodes and Kasey Weaver had row six.

Young took the lead on the opening lap, with Roush, Irvine, Sweigart, Jeff Weaver, and Dodson following. Things remained unchanged up front through the first half of the race.

Irvine took over second on lap seventeen, and he began to whittle away at Young’s advantage. The lead was wiped away just one lap later when Landon Price came to a stop entering turn one.

On the restart, Irvine began to apply some pressure to Young, but Young began to pull away. Irvine could not maintain the pace, though, and he came under attack from Dodson and Duke.

Young and Dodson were getting ready for a two-car battle to the finish when something unexpected happened. They both lost right rear tires in the same corner on the same lap! The resulting caution set up a two-lap dash for the win, with Duke and Irvine as the front runners.

They got away cleanly and it seemed as though the outcome was determined. However, the third place car of Rhodes sustained a flat right rear as well on lap twenty-four.

So, the 305 race came down to a one-lap run for the money. Duke and Irvine remained out front. Jeff Weaver came up to third, followed by Sweigart and Roush. Dimm, Christian Rumsey, Danny Buccafusca, Nolan Groves, and Erin Statler completed the top ten.

“I didn’t have anything for Doug (Dodson) or Drew (Young),” Duke said. “I don’t know what happened to them, but I was smiling ear to ear,” he added. Duke explained that he was driving an unfamiliar car, which he debuted atthe end of 2023. “This car is different than anything I’ve ever had. I didn’t have any chance to try anything out with it.” Nonetheless, the car performed flawlessly for him and, more importantly, it did not have excessive tire wear over the course of the twenty-five lap affair.

The Founders Cup, a fifteen lap race for the non-qualifiers, closed out the action. Paul Moyer led from the pole, but with one lap remaining, Fred Arnold drove by in turn one to lead the last lap. The most important part of the win was the guaranteed starting position for the 2024 edition of the Keystone Racesaver Challenge, which will be run in the middle of the summer rather than its customary mid-October date.

Taking second was Moyer, followed by Ben Miklos. Donnie Hendershot and Alan Rhodes completed the top five. Dustin Young, Andrew Boyer, Kyle Hart, Bill Sheehan, and Jimmy White were the next five finishers.

The outstanding 45 car field required six heats and two B Mains to cut down to the twenty-six cars for the big race. The heat winners were Duke, Sweigart, Kepner, Rhodes, Jeff Weaver, Jr., and Heffner. Jacob Gomola and Jarred Rosencrance did the Western PA contingent something to cheer about, taking the twin Bs.

Port Royal Speedway will be back in action on Saturday, April 13, with a three-division program featuring the 410 Sprints, the Super Late Models, and the Limited Late Models. April 20 will have the same two headliners, but the PASS 305 Sprints will be back for their second appearance of the season. The weekend of April 27-28 will be a biggie, with the Keith Kauffman Classic going on Saturday. That will consist of the 410 Sprints paying $15,000 to the winner, along with the USAC East Coast Sprints and the Wingless Sportsmen. Then, on Sunday the 28th, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will close out the month along with the Limited Lates.

Dirt Racing

PPMS, Latrobe and Lervnerville Cancel Saturday Events

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PITTSBURGH, PA (May 25, 2024) A forecast calling for thunderstorms after 3 p.m. with gusty winds and possible hail throughout areas of Western Pennsylvania on Saturday is forcing local tracks to cancel their Saturday nights events.

Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway made the decision early to cancel their Choice for Change Action Event with the RUSH Sprint Cars.  All tickets purchased for the event are eligible for a full refund.  Next up at PPMS is the Western PA Speedweek event on Thursday with UEMS Racing Series.

Penn Ohio Pro Stock Touring Series and Latrobe Speedway officials are also postponing the tour’s season-opener because of Mother Nature.  The good news is the delay is only one week.

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“Despite the unfortunate weather forecast that canceled our fourth race in a row, we have a silver lining,” said SNB Promotions Dennis Bates. “Thankfully, we were able to reschedule the Homak Penn Ohio Pro Stock Tour for the following Saturday, June 1. Providing a new opportunity for our stakeholders to enjoy a modified six-division event. Most Homak Penn Ohio Pro Stock touring teams have more than a two-hour drive to the speedway, so it made sense to postpone the race.”

The modified six-division show will also include the K2 Engineering FASTrak Pro Late Models, Joe’s Body Shop & Towing Pure Stocks, Special T Metals LLC Modified 4 Cylinders, the Marilungo Disposal LLC Strictly Stock 4 Cylinders, and the Dean Pollock Hobby Stocks.

The grim forecast is also causing Overdrive Monster Truck and Lernerville Speedway officials to postpone tonight’s event. The show will now take place on Sunday, May 26 with VIP gates opening at 2 p.m.  The grandstands will open at 2:30 p.m. with a scheduled start of 6 p.m.  All tickets purchased in advance will be honored for May 26.

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Dirt Racing

Red-Hot Spithaler Continues His Winning Ways At Lernerville

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SARVER, PA (May 24, 2024) There its not a hotter driver in the local 410 Sprint Car ranks than Brandon Spithaler.  One week after finishing fourth in the World of Outlaws A Main at Attica Raceway Park, Spithaler picked up the checkered flag in the People’s Natural Gas feature Friday night at Lernerville Speedway.

Spithaler started eighth in the 19-car field and held off Bradon Matus and Michael Bauer to pick up the win.  AJ Flick finished fourth and hard-charger Dan Kuriger rounded out the Top 5 after starting 18th.

Flick remains atop the Championship standing followed by Carl Bowser, who trails flick by 16-points.  Bauer and Matus each sit 19-points back of Flick with Baurer holding down third in the standings by virtue of his 2-Top 5 finished.  The victory moves Spithaler to sixth, 29-points back despite participating in only 2-events.

Tyler Dietz started on the front row and took home the victory in the Precise Racing Products Late Model feature.  Colton Flinner finished second followed by Michael Norris and John Garvin Jr.

Norris remains atop the Championship standings with Flinner in second, 1-point behind.  Garvin is 7-points behind in third and Dietz’ victory leaves him sitting in fourth, 13-points behind.

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Garrett Krummert is your winner in the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modifieds.  Krummert started seventh and expertly worked traffic to get past second-place starter and finisher Rex King Jr.  Jeremiah Shingledecker finished third followed by Will Thomas in fourth.  Ayden Cipriano rounded out the Top 5.

The Top 4 finishers are your Top 4 in the Championship standings with King Jr 5-points behind Krummert.  Shingledecker sits third, 16-points back and Thomas is only one point back of third, 17-points behind Krummert.

Pole sitter Chris Schneider held off a hard-charging Dietz to win the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Pro Stocks feature.  Christian Schneider came home third after starting sixth followed by Corey McPherson in fourth and Jason Fosnaught in fifth.

Dietz and Christian Schneider are tied atop the Championship standings with 113 points each.  Chris Schneider is third 9-points back in a battle that is bound to go down to the final weekend.

Saturday night’s Overdrive Monster Trucks event has been postponed to Sunday due to the forecast.  VIP Gates will open at 2 p.m. with grandstands opening at 2:30 p.m.  The event will start at 6 p.m.  All tickets purchased in advance will be honored for May 26.

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Dirt Racing

Dietrich Does It At The Grove

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Williams Grove Speedway

MECHANICSBURG, PA (May 24, 2024): Danny Dietrich got a break at the start of the John Trone Tribute A Main at Williams Grove Speedway, and he made the most of it. Dietrich fell in behind Lucas Wolfe on the initial green, but a multi-car crash before the entire field crossed for lap one necessitated a complete restart. Dietrich was better prepared for the second try, and he was able to keep Wolfe behind him motoring down the long straightaway. Still, Dietrich had to fend Wolfe off once or twice during the contest to ensure the $10,039 win. Wolfe slid out of the rubber once in the late going, and Spencer Bayston scooted by for second.

Also grabbing a win was Logan Spahr in the PASS IMCA 305 Sprint undercard.

“We had a good draw, but we had a bad start,” the Gettsysburg pilot observed. “I like racing with Lucas (Wolfe) because he will always race you clean. Lucas got me, but we were better the next time.” Dietrich explained that there was some moisture in the middle of the track, and that was where Wolfe launched at the drop of the green. “I didn’t push him up enough, so the second time I moved up and I got a better run,” Dietrich added.

Dietrich started on the pole carrying the traditional red, white, and blue colors and the historic number 29 that always adorned the Bob Weikert-owned machines over the years. The next generation of Weikerts sponsor Dietrich’s car, owned by Gary Kauffman of Biglerville, and the Kauffman/Dietrich team pay homage to the iconic car and the famous owner over the Memorial Day Weekend. The same livery will be used in the two-day event at the Port Royal Speedway.

Wolfe was on Dietrich’s flank for the start of the twenty-five lapper. In the row behind were Devon Borden and Bayston. Row three paired up Chase Dietz and Cory Eliason. Anthony Macri and Rico Abreu made up row four. Next were T.J. Stutts and midwestern star Brian Brown. James McFadden and Kyle Reinhardt occupied row six.

The first lap melee eliminated several cars, including those of current points leader and defending champion Freddie Rahmer, Jr., and Lance Dewease.

After the failed attempt to start the race, Dietrich claimed the lead that he would never relinquish. Wolfe stayed close, particularly in the early going. He was followed by Bayston, Borden, Dietz, Eliason, Macri, Abreu, Brown, and Reinhardt. Dietrich had a comfortable margin eliminated on lap eleven when Austin Bishop stopped on the track for the first official caution.

On the restart, Wolfe drove in the middle grove entering turn one. He was able to get along side of Dietrich, but the bottom was the better line due to the accumulated rubber. So Dietrich was able to drive away from his challenger in turn two. Bayston remained in third, with Dietz and Eliason next.

Two laps later, Abreu spun himself out of the top ten. He managed to keep moving, so there was no caution but, now, Abreu was at the tail of the field. Bayston got a good run on Wolfe for second a lap later, but Bayston slid up the track and handed third over to Dietz. Bayston was able to regain the position by lap fifteen, when Abreu and Aaron Bollinger tangled in turn one.

Three Rivers Karting

On the restart, Dietrich continued to lead Wolfe and Bayston. Bayston was pressing Wolfe while Dietrich began to pull away. With just two laps remaining, Wolfe slid up off the rubber in turn one, losing second to Bayston in the process.

At the checkers, it was Dietrich by a wide margin over Bayston, Wolfe, Eliason, and Dietz. Macri, Borden, Reinhardt, Brown, and Stutts completed the top ten.

The four heat wins went to Abreu, Bayston, Wolfe, and Dietrich. Cameron Smith prevailed in the B Main. Eliason was the fastest qualifier this night, topping Group A with a lap of 17.898 seconds. Macri was best in Group B with a time of 18.278 seconds.

Josh Beamer had the pole for the twenty-lap nightcap for the PASS IMCA 305 Sprints. Beside him was Erin Statler. Row two consisted of Jason Roush and Spahr. The third row matched Andrew Boyer with Kenny Heffner. Drew Young shared row four with Mike Alleman. Owen Dimm and Danny Buccafusco raced from row five, and they were trailed by Landon Price and Mike Melair.

Beamer dashed out front, but Spahr was into second in no time at all. Roush, Heffner, Boyer, and Young followed closely. As the lap counter advanced, Beamer and Spahr separated themselves from Heffner, who raced alone in third. Positions four on back were hotly contested.

Spahr assumed the lead on lap eleven, just one round ahead of the lone caution of the race for Croix Beasom.

On the restart, Spahr got a tremendous jump on Beasom. Young lost several positions after the race resumed. Moving ahead of him were Christian Rumsey, Heffner, Melair, Statler, and Buccafusco.

Spahr showed no mercy to his competitors over the final eight laps. Beamer registered a second place finish, ahead of Rumsey, Melair, and Statler. Positions six through ten went to Heffner, Buccafusco, Young, Boyer, and Dimm.

Boyer and Heffner shared the heats. There was no B Main.

Next week, the 358 Sprints will return to support the 410 Sprints. The 358s will go for twenty-five laps with extra purse money on the line. The month of June will commence with the 410s and USAC East Coast Sprints in the Bill Gallagher Memorial. On June 14, the USAC National Sprints will be the added attraction, along with the 410 Sprints. June 21 will be the tune-up for Central PA Speedweek.

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