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Two In a Row for Esh at Port Royal

By DREW PELLMAN
PORT ROYAL — Stop me if you’ve heard this before — Doug Esh won the sprint car feature Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway over Greg Hodnett. If your first thought was, “I thought that happened last week,” it did! The weather got much warmer and the racing surface got much slicker than one week ago, but the results, well, they didn’t change a bit. Esh won his ninth career race at the Juniata County oval. Former Late Model track champion Mike Lupfer won his first feature of the season, and Todd Snook did the same on opening night for the 355 Econo Late Models. Herm Renninger wrapped up the evening by winning the lid lifter for the Xtreme Stocks.
​Hodnett and Esh shared row two in the starting grid, right behind Ryan Taylor and Dale Blaney. The race-winning move for Esh though was made before the cars even got to the flagstand when the green flag was displayed. Esh stood on the loud pedal and split the front row just as the cars got to the restart line exiting turn four. Thanks to his perfectly-timed move, Esh was able to grab the lead heading into the first turn and he never looked back. The Lancaster native opened up a straightaway lead before Hodnett finally started to chip away after getting by both Taylor and Blaney. But it was a case of too little, too late for the Heffner Racing No. 27, and Hodnett was forced to settled for runner-up honors for the second week in a row. Blaney held on to third, Taylor was scored fourth and Dylan Cisney worked his way through the field to finish fifth. Sixth through tenth were T.J. Stutts, Steve Buckwalter, Aaron Ott, Mike Wagner and A.J. Flick. Heats for the 30 410 Sprints — a season high car count — were won by Hodnett, Blaney and Taylor. Kody Lehman won the consolation. Stutts laid down the fastest lap of group time trials session at 16.561 seconds.
​Dylan Yoder looked as if he was going to break a recent string of bad luck in the Late Model feature, but his machine went up in a ball of flames from under the hood while leading on lap 12. Lupher assumed the lead after disposing of pole sitter Matt Parks and held on for his first victory of the season.. Parks took second over Trent Brenneman, Coleby Frye, Andy Haus, Devin Friese, Tim Wilson, Chad Hollenbeck, Dave Brouse Jr. and Tim Smith Jr. Heats for the 20 cars were won by Frye and Brenneman.
​Snook went wire to wire to win the Econo Lap Model feature, with the only challenge coming from Devin Hart early in the event. Andrew Yoder passed Hart for second by the time the checkers were displayed. Fourth spot went to Shaun Miller and Eric Irvin rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tim Krape, Tim Fedder, Derrick Garman, Harold Ranck Jr. and Jared Fulkroad. Heats for the 22 cars went to Hart and Krape.
​Wrapping up the night, Renninger took the lead on the second lap of the Xtreme Stock feature and went on to win over Bill Powell, Smith Cope, Walt Peters and Darren Rice.

THIS WEEK: It’s Kids Easter Night at Port Royal on Saturday, complete with a free Easter treat to the first 200 youths through the main general admission gates. Additionally, a candy scramble will occur in the infield prior to the heat races.
​Racing begins at 6 p.m., and will again feature the 410 Sprints, Late Models and 355 Econo Late Models.

IN THE AREA: Williams Grove once again was forced to cancel its program last Friday due to rain. It was the fourth cancelation in five scheduled events for the Grove this season. The weather forecast looks good for this Friday, however, with the 410 Sprints and 358 Springs taking to the famed half-mile.
​In the Pigeon Hills on Saturday, Gerard McIntyre Jr. scored his first 410 win since 2015 over Brandon Rahmer, Matt Campbell, Danny Dietrich and Brian Montieth. In 358 action, Todd Gracey — a former regular in 410 action years ago — took his first Lincoln checkered flag in 19 years. Troy Wagaman Jr. finished second, Jared Esh was third, Steve Wilbur crossed fourth and Cody Fletcher rounded out the top five. This coming Saturday will be the Spring Championship for 410 Sprints, and the 358s will also be on the card.
​Selinsgrove Speedway opened its gates for the first time in 2017, and it was Jason Schultz who scored the win in 360 Sprint Car competition. Davie Franek settled for second, Nate Snyder was third, Chad Layton took fourth in his return to a race car, and Larry Kelleher finished fifth. Jeff Rine won the Late Model action, and Tommy Slanker matched his feat in the Pro Stock main event. This week, the Snyder County oval will host the same three divisions on Saturday night.
​In a bit of a shocker, Logan Wagner won the first 410 feature of the season at Susquehanna Speedway on Sunday. Wagner made a great move on a late restart to fly by veterans Doug Esh and Greg Hodnett on the inside, and never let up the rest of the way. Esh settled for second and Lance Dewease was third in his first race of the 2017 season aboard the Don Krietz No. 69K. Brock Zearfoss and Freddie Rahmer rounded out the top five. In 358 action, Doug Hammaker beat Chandler Leiby and Kevin Nouse to the line to score the win, while Steve Owings and Brent Shearer finished fourth and fifth respectively.

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