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Godown Takes STSS Victory On Final Lap; Macri, Flinner Score Wins

Photo by Bob Hockenbrock
PORT ROYAL — If Juniata County fans want to see dirt modified racing, that usually means a summer trip to places such as Big Diamond Speedway on Friday nights or Grandview Speedway on Saturday nights. In recent years though, Port Royal Speedway has played host to the Short Track Super Series twice per season — once in the spring and again in the fall for the big Speed Showcase 200 weekend. Sunday was the spring event for 2022, and the mighty modifieds certainly didn’t disappoint. The 410 sprints — which also produced a result that left plenty of people talking after the race — and United Late Model Series were also part of the program.

First things first, as the Short Track Super Series opened up its South Region schedule after being rained out at Selinsgrove on Saturday. After every qualifying event had been completed, it was a bit difficult to imagine that someone other than Stewart Friesen would be standing in victory lane after 40 laps were in the books. Friesen, who had won his heat race from the rear of the field, had drawn the third starting spot, directly behind the front row of Mike Gular and veteran Jimmy Horton. With big names like Jared Umbenhauer, Mat Williamson, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Godown and others starting inside the top 10, however, the battle for the top spot was sure to be a fierce one.

Gular got the jump from the start, but Friesen — after losing a couple spots — and Mahaney were the first drivers that were capable of making some early moves. Horton’s car came to a stop on lap 8 to bring out the first caution, and Friesen used the next lap following the restart to take the top spot from Gular. At the same time, Godown was steadily working his way toward the front and managed to get around Gular for second a few laps later. It was at that point where disaster struck for the Friesen, as the race leader lost power and coasted to a stop on the frontstrech.

The ensuing restart saw Godown power away, but Gular began inching his way back toward the new leader as the laps were ticking down. Lap 25 was the magic one for Gular, who just like that found his No. 2 back on top of the scoreboard. He was able to hold Godown back through several periods of caution and the restarts that came along with them — until just after the white flag, that is. Godown had been hammering the top side of the speedway for several laps, but couldn’t secure enough momentum to pull off the pass to that point. That changed during his last trip through turns one and two, as he finally pulled even and won the drag race down the backstretch to secure the victory.

Gular settled for second, beating 12th-starting Michael Maresca, Williamson, and Sheppard to the line. Sixth through tenth went to Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, Danny Johnson, Ryan Watt and 32nd-starting Matt Stangle. Heat winners for the 49 modifieds were Mahaney, Gular, Johnson, Godown and Friesen.

But if a last-lap pass for the win isn’t enough, well, the 410 sprints rolled onto the track next for their second feature event of the season at the Juniata County half-mile. Brent Marks and Pat Cannon made up the front row of the 25-lap main event, but the red flag came out immediately after the cars were shown the green. Third-starting Jeff Halligan, in an attempt to stay off another competitor, looped his No. 45 in turn one with nearly the entire field coming full speed behind him. Zach Newlin was committed to the top side of the track and had nowhere to go, piling into Halligan and going upside down in the process. Newlin was uninjured, but was done for the day. T.J. Stutts and Curt Stroup were also collected in the mishap, but were able to rejoin the field.

Marks bolted away on the restart, while 5th-starting Anthony Macri and 8th-starting Logan Wagner worked their way up to second and third before a lap 6 caution for debris. When the green returned, it was the 7th lap that resulted in the major controversy of the day. Wagner, attempting to pass Macri’s No. 39M for second, drove his Zemco No. 1 to the bottom of turn three and completed a slider coming out of turn four. Macri, with the momentum off the top to his advantage, attempted to take the position back with a crossover down the frontstretch. In the process, he clipped the back of Wagner’s machine, turning the new second-place car into the frontstretch wall before it slid to a stop. Wagner went pitside for repairs and was able to rejoin the tail of the field.

The day went from bad to worse for the four-time and defending Port Royal champion on lap 11 when Justin Whittall looped his sprinter in turn one right in front of an oncoming Wagner. With nowhere to go, the No. 1 piled in and got upside down to effectively end his day. Wagner, not injured but still upset from the incident with Macri, found the No. 39M which had stopped in turn 1 for the red flag and made his feelings known before walking the rest of the way back to the pits.

That was the final stoppage of the event, and Macri’s team used the open red to their advantage. Macri stalked Brent Marks for next nine laps, and had himself in perfect position to make a race-winning pass with five laps to go. It was the 12th career victory at Port Royal for the Dillsburg native.

Marks held on for the runner-up spot after winning at Lincoln on Saturday night. Gerard McIntyre Jr. earned a strong third to complete the podium, while 17th-starting Danny Dietrich was fourth and 9th-starting Lucas Wolfe crossed fifth. Cannon, A.J. Flick, Mike Wagner, Dylan Cisney and Scotty Thiel rounded out the top 10.

McIntyre, Macri and Flick each won heat races for the 25-car field.

Colton Flinner made it two in a row to start the Port Royal super late model season, using the pole position to his advantage against a very strong 32-car field that was assembled for the ULMS event. Gregg Satterlee, the late model winner on Friday night at Williams Grove, took second, Jared Miley was third, Michael Norris crossed fourth, and Rick Eckert completed the top five.

Port Royal returns to action on Saturday night at 6 p.m. The 410 sprints and super late models each return for their third event of the 2022 season, while the limited late models will be pitside to get their new campaign underway.

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