Heimbach grabs late lead, takes opener

PORT ROYAL Blane Heimbach wrestled the lead away from Chad Layton on lap nine and then held him off on the final lap to win the first sprint car race of the season at Port Royal Speedway on Saturday night.

Heimbach’s ninth career track victory was worth $3,300 in the Jeff Creasy-owned/ Goff Motorsports No. 12.

“We weren’t actually very good from the word go,” said Heimbach, of Selinsgrove. “We were trying some different stuff and it was kind of a handful at the beginning and even more of a handful at the end. We were good enough for long enough. It’s nice to start up front like that and get a win early in the year.”

Chad Layton the 2010 and 2012 track champion grabbed the early race lead off turn two from Washington’s Trey Starks who is spending this month racing in Pennsylvania.

With one lap completed in the 25-lap main event, the caution flag flew for a multi-car accident in turns one and two.

Layton led Starks and fourth-starting Heimbach for the restart. Starks slipped high in turn two allowing Heimbach and Mike Erdley to drive by.

A lap three caution slowed the field again.

Heimbach went after Layton on the restart and the former track champions would slice and dice for the top spot over the next four laps. Another caution slowed the torrid battle for the lead.

Heimbach finally made the winning pass as they raced off turn four to complete lap nine.

“That was the most fun part of the race,” said Heimbach. “Once I got to second, we were racing hard. That was a lot of fun sliding around and being able to race like that.”

It looked like he’d cruise to the win after clearing lapped traffic, but slowed a bit with two laps left.

“With three to go, I hit the inside jersey barrier going off of two and something felt weirdI don’t know if I bent something,” said Heimbach. “Really, we weren’t very good at the end.”

Layton closed, but Heimbach held his line and scored the win over Layton and Erdley.

“That’s just the way things go sometimes,” said Layton. “Sometimes, it’s easier when you’re in second as you could see in the closing laps.”

Brent Marks came from the 12th starting spot to finish fourth and 15th starter Greg Hodnett completed the top five. Justin Barger finished sixth and Nate Snyder advanced 11 spots to finish seventh. Starks, Steve Buckwalter and former champion Mike Wagner completed the top 10.

The 10-lap heat races for the 25-car field were won by Buckwalter, Heimbach and Erdley.

Tim Wilson and Brett Schadel raced side-by-side over the final five laps of the late model feature with Wilson making the winning pass as they raced off turn four toward the checkered flag. It was his 11th win at the speedway.

“That was good racing and a lot of fun,” said Wilson, of McClure. “I know Brett didn’t want to see those cautions and I sure didn’t. But, that helped us at the end. That was an awesome race. I kept digging and that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Andy Haus, Matt Parks and Scotty Haus completed the top five. Jim Yoder, Mike Lupfer, Chad Hollenbeck, Bryan Bernheisel and Mitch Hack rounded out the top 10.