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Marks Claims 2020 Juniata County Fair Opener

By DREW PELLMAN
PORT ROYAL — After a year that has showcased more uncertainly than ever before, something simply felt right as fans filed into Port Royal Speedway Saturday to open the 166th Juniata County Fair. For the 410 sprint cars, it was the start of a busy week that will see them race on the big half-mile five times in the next eight days.

The festive mood only grew as on-track action picked up. In what was arguably the best sprint car feature of the season at Port Royal, it was Brent Marks that piloted the CJB Motorsports No. 5M to victory from the ninth starting position. At the start, it was New Jersey’s Justin Whittal who got the jump on the field, and he held that lead for the first 14 laps of the race. Unfortunately for Whittal — who was looking for his first career Port Royal victory — there were fast cars making their way through the field, and they were doing it quickly. Along with Marks, Anthony Macri and Lance Dewease — the 10th- and 11th-place starters — were making easy work of the field and the trio soon found themselves in positions two through four.

With Whittal having to deal with heavy lapped traffic in front of him, Marks waited for the perfect time to make a bid for the lead with a slider in turns three and four. The good news was that his move stuck, but the bad news was that Macri and Dewease were able to get by Whittal just as quickly and were hot on his heels.

By lap 17, Macri — who has five Port Royal victories this season — decided that it was time to make a move of his own. He momentarily stole the lead, but Marks was able to cross him over and re-take the top spot. One lap later, the three lead cars came out of the second turn in three-wide formation, but an untimely caution halted the breathtaking action with just seven laps to go. The caution was for a spinning Logan Wagner, who got a piece of the inside barrier in turn three.

It was just what the doctor ordered for Marks, who was able to check out on the ensuing restart — and once again on a lap 21 restart following a lengthy red flag — for his second win of the season at Port Royal. The aforementioned red flag began as Brock Zearfoss hit the turn three wall after his right-rear tire went flat. The No. 3Z machine got upside down before shooting back across the track and was struck by the oncoming cars of Tyler Reeser, Dylan Cisney and Kyle Smith. Zearfoss, Cisney and Smith were uninjured. Reeser was transported to the hospital for further evaluation, but it was reported at the track that he was communicating with safety personnel.

Mike Wagner — who is now just 45 points behind son Logan in track point standings — and Whittal recorded top-five finishes by following Marks, Macri and Dewease to the checkered flag. Jeff Halligan, Ryan Smith, Brian Brown, Blane Heimbach and AJ Flick rounded out the top 10.

Heat winners for 33 410s in attendance were Sye Lynch, Brown, Macri and Smith. Zearfoss won the B-main.

Up Next
Port Royal returns to action this afternoon with the 69th annual Labor Day Classic. The 410 sprint cars will be back in action, along with the limited late models, 4-cylinder pure stocks and wingless super sportsman.

Later in the week, the All-Star Circuit of Champions return to take part in the 53rd Annual Tuscarora 50 weekend. Racing action begins Thursday and will continue through Saturday night.

Other Area Sprint Car Winners
Williams Grove Speedway: Freddie Rahmer (410 sprints), Zach Newlin (358 sprints)
Lincoln Speedway: Danny Dietrich (won both of the Twin 20 features)
Selinsgrove Speedway: Anthony Macri

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