Kann takes chance, it pays off
PORT ROYAL – Justin Kann made a daring move in lapped traffic to steal the lead from Jeff Miller Sr. during the Butch Renninger Late Model Memorial Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway.
Once in front, Kann dominated the remaining laps to score his first career win at the Juniata County track and nearly $4,000 in the annual event honoring the late track champion.
In the 25-lap main event for the sprint cars, it was New York’s Justin Barger holding off Greg Hodnett in lapped traffic and then cruising to his first career speedway win.
It was opening night of the 160th Annual Juniata County Fair, which runs all week. The speedway is back in action with the annual Labor Day Classic featuring the sprint cars this afternoon.
Miller grabbed the early race lead in the 33-lap Renninger Memorial over Kann.
The front pair blasted away from the field as Andy Haus took third place and Brett Schadel advanced from 12th to fourth in just seven laps.
Kann, of Hesston, began to close on Miller in heavy lapped traffic and finally made the race-winning move.
Entering the first turn, Kann shot between Miller and a lapped car and emerged the new leader off turn two. From there, it was his race as he built his lead to a straightaway. Miller ended up spinning out and going to the rear.
A final caution flag flew with three laps left, but Haus was no match for Kann as he drove away to the win and $3,993 total including purse and bonus money. Point leader Mike Lupfer was third followed by Tim Smith Jr. and Schadel.
Patrick Bryner, Mitch Hack, Jason Schmidt, Waylon Wagner and Scott Flickinger rounded out the top 10. Kann was quick time on the night with a lap of 18.416 seconds. Hack, Wagner and Haus won the heat races.
“This is awesome,” Kann said. “That lapped traffic was crazy. It was one heck of a race. You could run anywhere. Unbelievable. I thought I had an opening.there were four cars there. It was crazy. I got pinched against the wall here and about lost it with 10 to go.”
“We’ve had such an excellent year, but don’t have any wins,” Haus said. “But, consistent top fives, top threes, so we’ll take it.
Barger, of Montrose, N.Y., started on the pole of the sprint car feature and took command. The first caution flag flew with two laps down when Lance Dewease slowed.
Greg Hodnett was on the move following the restart as he used to middle groove to drive by Rodney Westhafer in turn one and then Davey Sammons in turn three.
As they reached lapped traffic, the top three were close. Hodnett got under runner-up Nate Snyder and the lapped machine of Jim Shuster with one move to take second.
Hodnett was under Barger for the lead in turn one, but the caution flag negated the pass as Shuster hit the third turn fence with 14 laps completed.
Barger’s momentum around the cushion kept Hodnett behind him for the final 11 laps as he scored the win.
“When you get to lapped traffic, it is really tough to pick the lane that is the fastest way to go,” Barger said. “When I saw Greg, and then the yellow came out, I just took a couple deep breathes, hit my marks and we were good. This is the toughest division I’ve ever raced in. To come here and run this good; it feels amazing. I have to thank everybody behind me. I told them my time was coming, we just had to keep digging. We’re off some nights and gaining on it on others.”
Hodnett settled for his fourth runner-up at the track this year.
“We just needed traffic,” Hodnett said. “The track was not easy to pass on. We were too tight to run the top, so I had to run the middle. We just needed a little more. (After the caution) He had to whole racetrack to himself and could do whatever he wanted to do and I couldn’t run where he was which was the faster, momentum lane and I had to try and do something.”
New point leader Rick Lafferty was third followed by Snyder and Sammons. Chad Layton, Brock Zearfoss, Brent Marks, Rodney Westhafer and Ryan Taylor were in the top 10.
Todd Snook won the 15-lap main event for the econo late models over Devin Hart, Eric Irvin, Tim Krape and Andrew Yoder.
Mike Goodwin won the extreme stock feature.
Notes: A violent crash occurred in the second sprint car heat race. After a restart for a false start, the front row of the heat race got together racing down the front stretch. This bunched the field up, sending Doug Esh into the inside wall at the first turn opening. Esh’s car shot across the track with Dave Hahn being collected, along with point leader Mike Wagner. The cars were destroyed, but although shaken, the drivers were okay. … During the B-main, Wagner jumped into his son’s car in order to attempt to qualify and was involved in a second crash in the second turn. Wagner was transported to an area hospital and later diagnosed with a broken back. All but one car in the B-main were guaranteed to qualify due to three scratches from the heat race wreck. … On Sunday night, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., won the 16th Annual Late Model National Open at Selinsgrove Speedway. The event was sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Lanigan is the series point leader and the win was his 15th of the season and second straight in the Selinsgrove Open. It was worth $10,000. He started on the pole, led all 50 laps and was never challenged for the top spot. … In the Billy Kimmel Memorial for sprint cars Sunday night at Williams Grove Speedway, rain hit the track as the feature was lining up. The feature will be run on Sept. 12.