|Josie McIntyre Photo
PORT ROYAL, Pa- Jeff Miller added to what has already been a fairytale season as he picked up his third Weikert's Livestock 410 Sprint Car victory of the season when he bested Anthony Macri by mere inches (.010) at the start/finish line in the closest margin of victory known since the inception of electronic timing and scoring in the history of the Port Royal Speedway.
"They said earlier in the night that I had won two races in my rookie season and even then it didn’t seem real," said Miller. "To be up here again is pretty special and this season has just been amazing."
Open Wheel Madness 2 surely lived up to it’s namesake as 101 sprint cars across three divisions packed the Speedway pits to begin the night.
In the feature, Daryl Stimeling and Tyler Bear led the field to the green flag with Bear jumping out to the early lead. However, it would be short lived as Miller blasted past Bear on the outside of the track exiting turn 2 from his fourth starting spot to claim the lead and lead the opening circuit.
As Miller began to stretch his lead, it was former NASCAR champion and surprise attendee Tony Stewart making early moves. Starting from the seventh starting position, Stewart was up to fourth at the completion of the opening circuit.
Macri was also on the move. Rolling off from the eighth starting spot, Macri moved into sixth on lap six, just as Miller began to enter lap traffic on the backstretch with a nearly 3.0 second lead at his expense.
One lap later Stewart moved into third using the top of the speedway coming to the line and on lap eight he overtook Bear for second in turn's one and two on the outside.
With Miller having issues clearing the lap cars, Stewart was chipping away at the lead. Meanwhile Justin Whittall had moved into third and Macri had worked himself up to fourth, passing Bear with 11 to go.
Stewart, running a Ford powered engine, was having a hard time clearing the lap car of Nicole Bower, but on lap 18 he finally cleared her and he closed to the tail tank of Miller, who was struggling to get around Anthony Fiore's lap machine.
Stewart tried the bottom of the speedway, but couldn't quite clear Miller as Miller rocketed around the top and momentum kept him in the lead. With three laps to go, Stewart maneuvered the middle of turn's 3 and four to overtake the rookie to take the lead. However, just as he passed the flag-stand to lead the lap, Stewart banged wheels with Fiore, causing his left rear tire to go flat, handing the lead back to Miller
"I was having a terrible time getting around those lap cars and I knew those guys were coming," said Miller. "Tony kind of threaded the needle and I wasn't really sure what happened to him, but he had a quick car."
As Stewart pulled off the speedway, Miller continued to rail the cushion. Still struggling to pass the lap cars of Fiore and Stimeling, Whittall and Macri were in hot pursuit and it wouldn't be his last challenge for the lead.
On the white flag lap, Macri slid under Whittall to take the second position in turn's one and two and used a head of steam down the backstretch to slide under Miller entering turn 3. He pulled ahead of Miller and cleared him exiting turn four, but Miller crossed under him and the two cars briefly banged wheels coming to the checkered flag with Miller being deemed the winner by the closest of margins.
Macri, Whittall, Jared Esh, who was the night's hard charger coming from the 18th starting position and Logan Wagner rounded out the top five. Wagner also overcame extreme adversity as he wrecked his Zemco Headers #1 in warm-ups and was forced to pilot his father's car for the rest of the night to help protect his points lead.
Passing was rampant throughout the field with eight cars advancing at least four positions. AJ Flick, who won the B-Main, also came form 21st to finish seventh, all in nonstop action.
"We rubbed wheels and I pinched him or whatever, but he didn’t really seem real happy with me," said Miller of the dash to the checkered flag. "It was a racing deal. I'm not giving up for nothing, but I'm not going to destroy my car or his over it."
For Macri, he was happy with the second and is hoping to use the momentum and recent surge of speed for the big races upcoming on the schedule. He also struggled with an ignition switch problem that halted momentum early in the night.
"This car is nothing shirt of a rocket ship," said Macri. "If it wasn’t for me hitting the ignition switch twice during that feature I think the outcome might have been different. I'm feeling pretty good about the Tuscarora 50 right now to be honest with you."
Bear, Flick, Dan Shetler, Steve Buckwalter and TJ Stutts rounded out the top 10.
Sprint Car Results- 1.Jeff Miller 2.Anthony Macro 3.Justin Whittall 4.Jared Esh 5.Logan Wagner 6.Tyler Bear 7. AJ Flick 8.Dan Shetler 9.Steve Buckwalter 10.TJ Stutts 11.Blane Heimbach 12.Tyler Reeser 13.Dylan Cisney 14.Kyle Smith 15.Trenton Sheaffer 16.Tony Fiore 17.Daryl Stimeling 18.Nicole Bower 19.Tyler Walton 20.Rick Lafferty 21.Chris Arnold 22.Dwayne Gutshall 23.Tony Stewart 24.Dave Blaney
305 Sprint Cars
Landon Price passed Doug Dodsen on a lap eight restart and never looked back to claim his first career Penns Valley Meat Market PASS/IMCA 305 Sprint Car victory at the Port Royal Speedway.
Dodsen and Kenny Heffner led the field to the green flag with Dodsen jumping out to the early lead. Dodsen would stretch out a half a straightaway lead over the opening eight laps with Price and Nick Sweigart in tow.
A caution for Jimmy White getting into the outside guardrail in turn three would slow the field on lap eight and set up Price to make his move.
On the restart, Price dove to the bottom of turns 1 and 2 and cleared Dodsen exiting the turn to lead for the first time. Over the remaining 12 laps, Price would go unchallenged. He would ultimately take the checkered flag by a 2.085 second over Dodsen and a hard charging Garrett Bard, who started eighth.
Nick Sweigart and Devin Adams rounded out the top five with Drew Ritchey, Ken Duke, Kassidy Kreitz, Zach Newlin and Heffner filling out the top 10.
Dave Grube, Jonathon Jones and Robert Garvey all wrecked coming to the finish line, with Grube slamming hard into the inside guard rail. It was a rough night for Jones, who entered the night as the series points leader. After blowing a tire in his heat race and charging forward to advance through the B-Main, he would be credited with a 21st place finish. Duke now holds a 40 point lead in the standings over Jones as a result.
"Honestly, it was so slick out there and I was waiting to see him come back around me," said the 17 year old Price of his race winning pass of Dodsen. "I don’t know what to say here, I feel like I'm dreaming."
Dodsen, who picked up a victory with the series last week at Path Valley, was happy with a second place finish.
"I was rolling really good early in the feature," said Dodsen. "I didn't want to see that caution, but ultimately that's how it goes in racing. We'll take the second and move on."
305 Results- 1.Landon Price 2.Doud Dodsen 3.Garrett Bard 4.Nick Sweigart 5.Devin Adams 6.Drew Ritchey 7.Ken Duke 8.Kassidy Kreitz 9.Zach Newlin 10.Kenny Heffner 11.Erin Statler 12.Cale Reigle 13.Dylan Proctor 14.Nathan Gramley 15.Cruz Kepner 16.Scott Ellerman 17.Domenic Melair 18.Jake Waters 19.Josh Spicer 20. Dave Grube 21.Jonathon Jones 22.Robert Garvey 23.Dave Wickman 24.Jake Frye 25. Jimmy White DNF- Colton Hoover
358 Summer Series
Doug Hammaker passed Brett Wanner with five laps to go and held off a hard charging Kevin Nouse to pick up his first career Port Royal Speedway victory in the 358 Summer Series only visit to the track in 2019.
"This is pretty dang cool to be here in victory lane," said Hammaker. "It's just really awesome and I don't know what else to say."
Dwight Leppo and Greg Foster led the field to the green flag, but it was Wanner rocketing to the early lead from his fourth starting position. He would enter lap traffic on lap six. Meanwhile Nouse was on the move early. After lining up in the eleventh position, he was already into the top five by lap seven.
One lap later, Hammaker moved into second using the top of the speedway in turn's one and two and Nouse followed suit into fourth the following circuit in turn's three and four.
The caution would come out on lap 10 for a spinning car in turn four. On the restart, Hammaker tried to pull a slidejob on Wanner in turn's one and two, but Wanner had momentum and exited turn two with the lead again. One lap later, Nouse entered the top three as he passed Foster using the bottom of turn three.
As Wanner entered lap traffic on lap 16, Hammaker began to set up his next move. He hit his marks over the next four laps and remained patient, before diving to the bottom of Wanner is traffic in turn's three and four and taking the lead for good with five to go.
"I was able to reel him in there in lap traffic and I was just biding my time," said Hammaker of the winning pass. "He's going to win many of races, but that was just experience paying dividends there."
Nouse would pass Wanner for second the following lap, but would never have anything for Hammaker as he would take the $1500 payday by a margin of 2.364 seconds.
Wanner, Foster and Leppo would round oiut the top five with Steve Owings, Todd Rittenhouse Jr., CJ Tracy, Cody Fletcher and Troy Wagaman filling out the top 10.
Nouse was happy with second, but ultimately felt he let one get away earlier in the race,
"I'm really pleased with the run considering we started 11th and I love Port Royal Speedway," said Knouse. "But I'm a little mad at myself because I had an opportunity to get by Hammaker earlier in the night and I didn't pass him when I could've. But we'll take a second."
358 Results- 1.Doug Hammaker 2.Kevin Knouse 3.Brett Wanner 4.Greg Foster 5.Dwight Leppo 6.Steve Owings 7.Todd Rittenhouse Jr. 8.CJ Tracy 9.Cody Fletcher 10.Troy Wagaman 11.Dylan Norris 12.Steven Drevicki 13.Tyler Brehm 14.Tyler Ross 15.Dave Brown 16.Curt Stroup 17.Kyle Denmyer 18.Matt Findley 19.John Stewart 20.Scott Fisher 21.Chris Frank 22.Mark Van Vorst 23.Tyler Templin DNF-Wyatt Hinkle