PORT ROYAL - Doug Esh of Lancaster staged a come-from-behind victory in Saturday's 45th annual Tuscarora 50 sprint car race at Port Royal Speedway
The event was sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions at Port Royal Speedway.
Including lap money, Esh took home $11,450 for his second win in the prestigious race after first taking a victory in the event in 2007.
Sentinel photo by TIM?SHUMAKER
Racing around the first turn are Tuscarora 50 winner Doug Esh on the outside and All-Star Circuit driver Cap Henry (54). See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
Mike Wagner of Harrisonville earned the pole for the 50-lap main and took the lead when the green flag fell over the field over second-starter Mike Erdley.
During the early going, in a quest for his first-ever Tuscarora 50 win, Wagner pulled away to a comfortable lead with Brent Marks racing in third.
The race pace was slowed with four laps down when 2010 victor Brian Montieth slowed to a stop on the backchute.
Daryn Pittman and Dale Blaney lined up fourth and fifth for the restart.
But there was no challenge for Wagner when green reappeared as he continued piling up lap money in the race at a clip of at least $25 per circuit.
As the action wore on, Myerstown's Marks began to come on in his No. 19M, taking second from Erdley on lap six before slowly erasing Wagner's advantage.
The leaders entered lapped traffic with 16 laps completed and Marks was on Wagner's bumper by the time the backmarkers entered the race.
It took Marks until lap 18 to race by Wagner for the lead, ending his run at the front with a total of $550 in lap money accrued.
Wagner then saw Erdley race by for second on the next lap as the front duo seemed to stabilize while eyes on action shifted further back in the pack during what had been non-stop action since the fourth loop.
It was four-time 50 champ Lance Dewease and Danny Dietrich who were catching attention as they battled forth from their ninth and 15th starting spots, respectively.
The pair advanced rapidly into the top 10 and Dewease seemed to be building up quite a head of steam aboard his No. 30C, passing at will until he and Dietrich locked horns one lap shy of the halfway point.
As Dewease shot off of the fourth corner to complete lap 24, he drew inside of Dietrich for sixth spot as the pair headed for the stripe and the pair touched when Dietrich seemed to move down in and effort to thwart the attack and set his car into the first turn.
Dewease's car climbed Dietrich's inside left rear tire and the pair went careening into the outside first turn wall, disabling both men for the night and bringing out the red flag with 24 in the books.
Dietrich was runner-up in the 2011 Tuscarora 50.
The restart for the final 26 laps had Marks leading over Erdley, Wagner, 10th starter David Gravel, fourth starter Blaney and eighth starter Esh.
The next lap was worth $200 for Marks, to be leader at the halfway point, which he pocketed as Esh began his march to triumph with an impressive two-car pass while rim riding around the track to drive into fourth, disposing of both Blaney and Gravel with 22 laps to go.
One more lap and one more car found Esh now up to third, again blasting by competitor Wagner using the ragged, way-up-top outside edge of the track. However, by that time, leaders Marks and Erdley had amassed a healthy advantage and Esh was forced to drive down the distance before making moves for the win.
He finally reached Erdley with 18 laps to go and surpassed for second before using three more loops to run down Marks and cap off his impressive drive to the front on lap 35.
Marks ended his leading run with some $650 in lap money.
After Esh took the lead he began parting the waters through lapped traffic and was just one mile from the checkers when a pair of caution flags frustrated his efforts.
The first was for a surging Erdley who drove into second with eighth laps to go and began closing on Esh but fell victim to a flat tire.
Gravel restarted second but separated from Esh by a pair of lapped cars and he hadn't yet cleared both lapped cars when Marks stopped, also with a flat, setting up a one-lap dash to the finish that Esh handled easily.
Gravel crossed the line in second followed by Blaney, Wagner and 18th starter Danny Lasoski.
Sixth through 10th went to Pittman, Cap Henry, Blane Heimbach, Ryan Smith and Chad Layton.
Layton's finish garnered him the 2012 Port Royal track title, a career second for the Harrisburg driver and seventh overall for car owner Dave Middleswarth.
Pittman's run saw him pick up the 2012 All Stars Eastern Region series title, worth $20,000 from All Star Championship Racing Inc.
Heats for the 40 cars in attendance went to Keith Kauffman, Henry, Erdley and Dewease with Heimbach taking the B Main and Wagner scoring the dash. Pittman set fast time with a lap of 17.343 seconds.
Also on the card was a 20-lap pro stock main, which Derrick Garman won.
John Heane netted the 2012 track title, which is the second of his career at the oval.
Port Royal will return to action on Oct. 6 with the Blue Collar Classic for 305 sprints. The 4 p.m. program will include 358 late models, pro stocks and enduros.
The track will drop the final checkers on the year on Oct. 13 with a make-up Labor Day Classic, rained out on Sept. 3. That race will be an open tire event for the sprint cars. A demolition derby will also be on the card, beginning at 6 p.m.