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Each takes checkered flag at Port

Esh Conquers Lightning Quick Speedway
By DREW PELLMAN
PORT ROYAL — Since the new promotional group has been in place at Port Royal Speedway, the Juniata County oval has become known as the Speed Palace with help from today’s social media. It certainly lived up to its name on Saturday night, as multiple track records across three divisions were broken thanks to the amount of rain dumped on the racing surface throughout the day on Friday.
​When it was all said and done, defending track champion Doug Esh outlasted a nice field of 26 410 Sprint Cars to score his first win of the season. In Super Late Model action, Snyder County native Jeff Rine saw the checkered flag first. Rounding out the evening, Tyler Reeser won opening night for the 305 Sprints in an event that saw just 10 cars finish an incident-plagued 18 laps.
​Esh — who posted a new one-lap track record of 15.011 seconds in the first heat race — drew the zero inversion pill, putting the Mark Coldren-owned No. 07 on the pole of the 25-lap main event. Although he led every lap, it was anything but easy. Third-starting Greg Hodnett gave it everything he had, as the two leaders made one thrilling move after another to get through lapped traffic on the fast, tacky racing surface. Despite three restarts, Hodnett never quite pulled even, trailing Esh at the finish line by just over a tenth of a second. Rick Laffery took home third place, Aaron Ott was fourth and Steve Buckwalter finished fifth. Sixth through 10th went to Ryan Taylor, Cole Duncan, Brock Zearfoss, Logan Wagner and Dylan Cisney. Heats were won by Esh, Ryan Smith and Hodnett. Due to cold weather, Port Royal elected to scratch the consolation race and start all 26 entries instead of its normal 24-car field. ​
​Rine — the defending Selinsgrove Speedway track champion — started fifth in the late model feature, but had his eyes set on the leaders from the outset. Devin Friese got the initial jump off the front row, and managed to keep Tim Wilson and Rick Singleton at bay for a time, but Rine was the clearly the fastest car on the track. He made the outside line work midway through the event and wasn’t challenged from there. Friese held on for second, Singleton was third, Darryl Hills took fourth and Coleby Frye rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th went to Wilson, Justin Kann, Mike Lupfer, Steve Campbell and Andy Haus. Heats for the 27 Super Late Models went to Singleton, Wilson and Friese. Singleton set a new one-lap track record in his heat with a time of 17.728 seconds.
​Three red flags were displayed in the 305 Sprint Car opener, but fortunately there were no injuries in all the carnage. Fourth starting Tyler Reeser grabbed the lead early and never looked back to take the victory over Cale Reigle, Mark Watkins, Drew Ritchey and Colby Dice. Sixth through 10th went to Zach Newlin, Reed Thompson, Kassidy Kreitz, Andrew Hake and Fred Arnold. Heats for the 25 305s that were pitside went to Jeff Miller, defending track champion Nathan Gramley and Thompson. Once again, a one-lap track record was broken, this time by Reeser at 17.583 seconds during the feature event.

THIS WEEK: Port Royal will be back in action Saturday night with Dollar Dog Night for all race fans. The 410 Sprints and Super Late Models will return to action, while the 355 Econo Late Models and Xtreme Stocks will open their respective seasons.

IN THE AREA: Racing at Williams Grove Friday night was canceled due to rain that simply never stopped all day. The track will try to resume its season on Friday night with 410 sprints and the only appearance of 2017 for the Super Sportsman division.
​Brian Montieth won a wild one at Lincoln Speedway on Saturday over Chase Dietz — who made it a near photo-finish on the last circuit. Robbie Kendell, Lucas Wolfe and Tim Gladfelter took home third through fifth respectively. There were 25 410s at Lincoln after having 34 just one week ago. In 358 Sprint Car action, Doug Hammaker got his first win of the season at the Pigeon Hills over Kyle Denmyer, Chandler Leiby, Kevin Nouse and Cody Fletcher. Lincoln returns to action Saturday night with the 410 and 358 Sprints, as well as Street Stocks.
​Saturday is also opening night at Selinsgrove Speedway. Fans should expect a great field of 360 sprints with the Empire Sprint Series coming to town, as well as the Super Late Models and Pro Stocks.
​The last stop of the weekend will be at Susquehanna Speedway on Sunday, when the Newberrytown oval will host its first 410/358 open-wheel doubleheader of the season.

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