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Blaney Tops Wolfe in Port Royal Thriller


PORT ROYAL — It was a cold, blustery Saturday throughout Juniata County, but the on-track action at Port Royal Speedway more than made up for it. 62 cars were pitside across three divisions for the second racing program of the young season — including 23 410 sprint cars and 16 super late models — as well as 23 305 sprint cars who were making their 2018 season debut.

Fans of nearly any type of motorsports recognize the name “Blaney.” At Port Royal on Saturday, it was former World of Outlaw Champion and retired NASCAR driver Dave Blaney who picked up his fourth career victory at the Juniata County oval in 410 sprint car action. Coincidentally, just a half hour earlier, son Ryan was taking the checkered flag in the Xfinity Series event at the Texas Motor Speedway.

To say Blaney earned this one was an understatement. The invert pill that followed the three heat races put the “Buckeye Bullet” in the third starting position — right behind a front row of Kody Lehman and Greg Hodnett. Hodnett jumped out to the early advantage, but action quickly came to a halt on the second lap when Parker Price-Miller looped his No. 4 after failing to complete a pass attempt in between turns three and four. Jason Schultz and Joe Kata — both committed to the top of the speedway — had nowhere to go and were collected in the incident. None of the three were able to continue. Once green again, Hodnett paced the field through lapped traffic, but Blaney and 10th-starting Lucas Wolfe were visibly starting to gain ground. In fact, by a lap 14 caution flag for a spinning Aaron Reutzel, Blaney was right on the door step. On the ensuing restart, Hodnett chose the high side of turn one, which opened the door for Blaney to stick an aggressive move for the lead on the bottom side. There would be no more stoppages, but Wolfe’s No. 24 — who had also motored past Hodnett — was ready to pounce as the pair took the white flag. Entering turn three, Wolfe made his move by diving to the bottom and sliding up directly in front of Blaney’s No. 70. He was unable to maintain his momentum, however, allowing Blaney to cross him over at the exit of turn four and win the drag race to the line by a mere .312 seconds. Hodnett settled for third, just ahead of Anthony Macri and Dylan Cisney. Six through ten went to Brock Zearfoss (who started 22nd), Danny Dietrich, Logan Wagner, Steve Buckwalter and Mike Wagner. Heat races were won by Rick Lafferty, Schultz and Kata.

In super late model action, fourth-starting Dylan Yoder won his first race of the season — and 13th overall at Port Royal — after an exciting battle with Nick Dickson and Coleby Frye. Dickson paced the field for the first ten laps, but mechanical problems sent him pitside not long after he had been passed for the top spot. Frye and Andy Haus spent the remainder of the event — which included three different restarts — stalking Yoder for the lead, but never could muster up a serious threat to the pace setter. That duo crossed the line second and third, just ahead of Andrew Yoder and defending track champion Mike Lupher. Brett Schadel, Tim Smith Jr., Rance Garlock, Jason Schmidt and Larry Baer rounded out the top ten. Lupfer and Haus won a pair of heat races.

Heartbreak was the word of the evening in 305 competition. First, pole sitter Kassidy Kreitz — who was in search of her first career victory in the class — lost power and was forced to the pits while lining up for the feature. Then, racelong leader Nick Sweigart got up into the cushion exiting turn four while coming to the checkered flag and looped his machine. The beneficiary was Jeff Miller, who was running second at the time. Drew Ritchey, Kyle Smith, Jonathan Jones and Zach Newlin followed Miller to the line to complete the top five. Six through ten went to Christian Rumsey, Austin Bishop, Ken Duke Jr., John Walp and Dave Grube. Smith, Miller and Grube won a trio of heats.

NEXT WEEK: A fantastic field of 410 sprints are expected, as the Port Royal regulars are joined by the cars and stars of Tony Stewart’s All-Star Circuit of Champions. A full program that begins with qualifying time trials will get underway at 6 p.m.

Also, it’ll be the first race of the season in the Moon Shine Camo Rt. 35 Challenge Series for the super late models. The second race of that series will take place on May 19th at the Selinsgrove Speedway.

IN TWO WEEKS: A sprint car triple-header will take place on April 21st. In action will be Port Royal’s own 410 sprints, the 360 sprints sanctioned by the United Racing Club (URC), as well as the 305 sprints.

Be sure to bring your appetite, because it’ll also be the first Dollar Hot Dog Night of 2018 at all speedway concession stands.

SUNDAY, APRIL 22nd: For late model fans, one of the most anticipated programs of the season is quickly approaching. Considered the best field of late models in the country, the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series will invade Port Royal Speedway for the second year in a row for “The Rumble by the River.” Last year, Pennsylvania’s own Rick Eckert — a regular in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series — took the win and the $10,000 to go with it.

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