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Jeffrey, Covert Score Wins on Opening Night

PORT ROYAL — It took three tries, but Port Royal Speedway was finally about to get the 2017 racing season underway Saturday night, and what a night it turned out to be for a pair of non-regulars.
​Australian Lynton Jeffrey — who local fans have become accustomed to seeing early in the season each year — captured his first ever win at the Juniata County half-mile in 410 sprint car completion, while Jason Covert pulled off an excited last lap, last corner pass to take the victory in the super late model division. It was the second career Port Royal win for the York native, who also punched his ticket into the feature event during the Appalachian Mountain Late Model Speedweek later this year. Andrew Yoder closed out the night by taking the 358 limited late model Mason Dixon Shootout Series event.
​Rick Lafferty lined up beside Jeffrey as the 410s prepared for their first feature of the season, and managed to lead the opening circuit before Jeffrey made the eventual race-winning move on the second lap. Dale Blaney — who is driving the familiar Zemco No. 1 car for 2017 — got by Lafferty with eight laps to go in the 25-lap main event, and set his sights firmly on Jeffrey at the point. He gained every lap, and tried desperately to make a pass for the lead with just three laps to go in the first turn. Blaney dove into the turn to draw even with Jeffrey who was running the top side of the speedway, but didn’t have the necessary drive off to complete the pass. Greg Hodnett drove from 10th starting position to get past Lafferty for a podium positon. Lafferty settled for fourth, just ahead of veteran racer Mike Wagner. Sixth through 10th were defending track champion Doug Esh, Brock Zearfoss, Dylan Cisney, Mark Smith and T.J. Stutts. Heats for the 16 410 sprints were won by Zearfoss and Stutts.
​It didn’t look like it was going to be Covert’s night at first, as the polesitter gave way to Dylan Yoder on lap 13 of 35. Yoder controlled the race from there, until moderate smoke finally turned terminal with under 10 laps remaining in the main event. They gave the lead to Kenny Moreland, who was racing up through the field just as he had done in his heat race where he went from last to first to take the win. Meanwhile, Covert — who had slipped to fourth before the caution for Yoder — got back past Gary Stuhler and immediately started tracking down Moreland to get into position to make the last-second maneuver on the low side in turns three and four to edge Moreland at the line. Stuhler took third, Mike Lupfer was fourth and Gregg Saterlee — the winner Friday night at Williams Grove — crossed fifth. Sixth through 10th went to Coleby Frye, Rick Singleton, Nick Dickson, Jeff Rine and Trent Brenneman. Heat for the 32 super late models were won by Covert, Stuhler, Moreland and Yoder, while Tim Wilson won the consolation race.
​Tim Krape led the first half of the 20-lap limited late model feature event before giving way to Andrew Yoder on lap 11. Rance Garlock also got by Krape to take the runner-up spot, and Robbie Black did the same to finish third. Krape settled for fourth, ahead of Mike Walls, Justin Weaver, Shaun Miller, Jim Yoder, Derrike Quade and defending 355-econo late model champion Devin Hart. Heats for the 27 limiteds were won by Dillan Stake, JR Toner and Garlock. Todd Snook took the consolation race.

THIS WEEK: Port Royal will be back in action Saturday night with the first Camera & Autograph Night of the season, where fans will be permitted in the pit area before racing gets started for the night. The 410 sprints and super late models will return for their second event of the season, while 305 sprint cars make their first appearance of 2017.

IN THE AREA: Williams Grove opened its gates for the first time Friday night, where Greg Hodnett took the 410 victory over Brian Montieth, Brock Zearfoss, Mark Smith and Doug Esh. Gregg Satterlee won the late model race over Gary Stuhler, Matt Cosner, Coleby Frye and Tyler Horst. The Grove will host 410 and 358 sprints this week.
​Lincoln Speedway resumed its season Saturday night after losing three straight events to the weather since the Icebreaker 30 was completed on Feb. 26th. Danny Dietrich took the win — his second of the season in the Pigeon Hills — over Jim Siegel, Lucas Wolfe, Coleman Gullick and Billy Dietrich. In the first 358 sprint car race anywhere in 2017, Kevin Nouse picked up the win over Doug Hammaker, Todd Rittenhouse, Jr., Adrian Shaffer and Chandler Leiby. This week, Lincoln will host a program of 410 and 358 sprints, as well as the All-American Outlaws.

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