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Weather Finally Calms as Heimbach Takes Port Opener


By Drew Pellman

PORT ROYAL — For the 2014 racing season at Port Royal Speedway, it was the fourth time that was finally the charm. Race teams, fans and officials alike suffered through three consecutive cancelations to begin the season after the harsh winter wrecked havoc across the Juniata County half-mile.

The speedway itself underwent another major offseason renovation under the direction of PRS Promotions — most notably the demolition of the old tin fence beyond turns one and two in favor of a more modern, safer, nine-high guardrail.

Also included was the widening of the aforementioned turns to match what was done in turns three and four one offseason ago. But the more things change, the more things stay the same for defending 410 sprint car track champion Blane Heimbach.

From his second-row starting spot, it took the Selinsgrove native just nine circuits before he powered around race leader Chad Layton to take the top spot.

Heimbach lengthened his advantage to half a straightaway before Layton gave him one final run in the closing laps.

The winner noted in victory lane that he had clipped the inside guardrail in turn two late in the race, which clearly effected the handing in the familiar Goff Racing/Creasy Signs No. 12. At the finish line, Heimbach took the victory by a couple of car lengths over Layton’s Middleswarth Potato Chips No. 7. Mike Erdley, Brent Marks and Greg Hodnett completed the top five. Heat races for the 25 entries were won by Steve Buckwalter, Erdley and Heimbach.

Mifflin County’s own Tim Wilson won the late model season opener in exciting fashion. Fourth-place starting Brett Schadel took the lead from pole sitter Andy Haus on the fourth lap and seemingly led the entire event until a string of caution flags bunched the field up with just four of the 20 laps remaining.

Wilson, who started second, took advantage of the yellow and the two began racing side by side at the drop of the green. It wasn’t until the final turn of the final lap that the race was decided, as Wilson powered around the outside of the speedway to take the checkered by less than one car length.

Andy Haus fell to third by the end of the event, Matt Parks was fourth and Scotty Haus, the all-time leading feature winner for late models at Port Royal, rounded out the top five. 23 late models signed in for competition, with heat races being won by Chad Hollenbeck, Parks and Schadel.

Tyler Bear took advantage of his second-place starting position by getting the early jump and leading every lap en route to the victory in the first 305 sprint car feature run anywhere in 2014. Kody Lehman was second, Alex Schanz took third, Jeff Miller finished fourth and Nathan Gramley completed the top five. Heat races for the 26 cars were won by Jason Bergstresser, Bear and Erin Statler. The Port gets back in action Saturday evening with the return of the 410 sprints and late models.

Also on the card is the debut of a new division for 2014, the 355 econo-late models, which take the place of the now discontinued pro stock division. Action at the Speed Palace begins at 5 p.m.

NOTES: Port Royal was not the only area track affected by the snow, rain and bitter cold that still hasn’t completely said goodbye to the midstate. To date, only six 410 sprint car races have been held in Central Pennsylvania, while nine have been canceled. So far this season, 410 winners include Adam Wilt, Danny Dietrich and Jim Siegel at Lincoln Speedway, Heimbach at Selinsgrove and Port Royal, and Gerard McIntyre Jr. at Williams Grove.

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