Windom slides by for Storm checkers
Heimbach wins in 410s
PORT ROYAL — Chris Windom’s first-turn slider by Robert Ballou got him the lead on a late-race restart and he held on to win the USAC Eastern Storm stop Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway earning $6,000.
“I knew that was my only shot,” Windom said in victory lane. “Robert was really good in clean air up front and I knew that was going to be the case from the start of the race. I was happy to see that caution and I knew I had to make my move there or I wasn’t going to get him. I definitely wasn’t happy to see that last red flag though.”
Ballou, a former Port Royal winner and USAC sprint car champion, started second and grabbed the lead off the second corner from Chad Boespflug on the opening lap.
As Ballou stretched his lead, the race was for second between Boespflug, Windom and Lincoln winner Thomas Meseraull.
A lap 12 caution flag for debris erased Ballou’s lead. Windom was now up to second and took a shot at the leader on the restart, but Ballou was too fast off the cushion and maintained the top spot.
Windom, of Canton, Illinois, lost just enough momentum to allow Meseraull to take a shot at second and he made the pass in turn three. Windom returned the slider in turn one to take the spot back.
By lap 16, the top three were racing back around the cushion with Ballou comfortably out front.
A car into the inside backstretch wall brought the caution flag out with four laps to go.
Windom blasted under Ballou entering turn one and slid in front of him to take the lead.
“I knew if I could get a good enough restart and get in front of him it would be tough to get us back and it worked out perfect,” Windom said. “This isn’t my best track. I haven’t had a lot of success here, but I had a great race car tonight.”
Justin Grant’s pass of Meseraull got him into third. Grant put a slider on Ballou the next lap and the pair made contact in turn two. Both were able to keep going.
Grant tried to block Ballou’s slider entering turn three on the final lap and they made contact again. This time Ballou’s car went across the track, hit the fence, and flipped bringing out the red flag with one lap to go. He was okay.
Windom controlled the restart blocking the inside entering both turns one and three to keep Grant behind him.
“My car was really strong at the end of the race,” Grant said. “I started getting back by some of those guys. The red gave us another shot as Chris, but it allowed Chris’s guys to tell him where I was running. He’s a good racecar driver and he wasn’t going to make a mistake once he knew what he needed to do.”
Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney and recent Hall of Fame inductee Dave Darland completed the top five. Meseraull, Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas Jr., Shane Golobic and Jerry Coons Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Grant set fast time with a lap of 19.019. Heat races for the 28 cars were won by Ballou, Meseraull and Golobic. Darland won the Semi Feature.
Windom finished ninth and held on to win the Eastern Storm Championship by four points over Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Eastern Storm finale Sunday night at Susquehanna Speedway.
Tyler Courtney took the lead back from Meseraull with the white flag waving and got by one final lapped car to secure the win in the last race. Meseraull settled for second ahead of Grant, Bacon and Thomas.
Windom leads the Eastern Storm points by 14 over Thomas headed into the Sunday night finale at Susquehanna.
In the 25-lap main event for the Port Royal sprint cars, Blane Heimbach passed Ryan Taylor with a few laps to go to score the win.
For Heimbach, of Selinsgrove, the win was worth $3,200 and was his 12th career speedway win aboard the Creasy No. 12.
“I couldn’t get going early and half-way through I didn’t know if we were going to have anything,” Heimbach said. “I had some trouble getting the wing pulled back. I’m really happy it ended up the way it did. Ryan was good. He was in a bad spot. He was just running around there. There wasn’t really a curb. The track was just really wide and you could run anywhere. Once I did get to him, my job was easy, just go where he didn’t. The way things have been going this just feels really pretty good.”
Taylor started on the pole and drove into the lead over Heimbach and Trey Starks. A third turn crash involving T.J. Stutts, Joey Hershey and Curt Stroup stopped the race before a lap was completed. All drivers were okay.
Taylor grabbed the lead again on the restart and began to build a lead while Heimbach and Starks raced for second and 11th starter Greg Hodnett was making his way into the top five.
By lap 11, Taylor’s lead was a straightaway. Hodnett slowed on the frontstretch and pitted with rear-end problems.
Taylor was having no problems in lapped traffic and he was easily able to clear the slower cars.
With five laps to go, Taylor couldn’t hold the bottom but Heimbach could and was gaining ground. He closed right to Taylor and an inside pass in turns three and four got him the lead with three to go.
Heimbach scored the win by almost one second over Taylor.
“I’m pretty disappointed right now,” Taylor said. “I really, really needed to win that race for my guys. It’s tough to swallow. I changed my line part way through the race. It felt like I was carrying more momentum. It was lack of experience on my part and just wish I could have capitalized on non-stop and running up front.”
Starks, point leader Dylan Cisney and Trenton Sheaffer completed the top five. Mike Wagner, Justin Barger, Brock Zearfoss, Steve Buckwalter and Stutts rounded out the top 10.