Wolfe grabs first victory at Port Royal
Wolfe slides from third to claim win
PORT ROYAL — Lucas Wolfe watched from third place as Justin Whittall and A.J. Flick threw sliders at each other for the sprint car feature lead Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway. Wolfe eventually interrupted their battle as he drove by Flick and then Whittall for the top spot. From there, Wolfe streaked away from the field earning his first Port Royal Speedway win of the season in the 25-lap main event driving the Mike Barshinger No. 24.
Bryan Clauson’s sixth and final Eastern Storm victory came at Port Royal Speedway in 2016. On what would have been Clauson’s 30th birthday, Tyler Courtney, of Indianapolis, started second, drove into the lead and was never challenged in winning the 30-lap USAC National Sprint Car feature Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway in the Clauson-Marshall Racing No. 7BC.
“They kept crossing and I wasn’t getting any closer,” Wolfe said. “At one point, I missed the bottom and fell back. Fortunately, they kept dicing back and forth which opened up the top of one and two which gave me a tremendous run down the backstretch. Once I got a clear lane in front of me, then I was good. When they were racing side-by-side, it was very tricky to pick a lane because I had to react to two cars. Ultimately, it worked out in the end.”
Wolfe, of Mechanicsburg, won from the ninth starting spot, so he earned the $4,000 base pay, plus a $300 bonus from the track.
“A lot of the guys that would have been higher than me in the order didn’t make it into the top three in the heat races, so it was a little bit of a hole,” Wolfe said. “More times than not, the outside is a better place to start, however, tonight I think the inside was a little bit better and I was good enough to jump the row in front of me at the start and slowly pick guys off.”
Whittall was leading Jared Esh and Flick when the first yellow flag flew with seven laps completed. On the restart, Flick took second from Esh and Wolfe took fourth. The yellow flew again with 10 laps completed. Wolfe took third on the restart as Whittall and Flick began trading the top spot in each set of corners. For several laps they went back and forth with Wolfe looking for a way around them. Wolfe finally got an open lane and passed Flick down the backstretch and then a fourth turn slider got him by Whittall with 10 laps to go.
The race belonged to Wolfe from there as he pulled away unchallenged the final 10 laps. Whittall finished second and seventh starter Blane Heimbach passed Flick for third.
“After the past couple weeks, my dad told me I needed to start using the brake a little more and stop crashing cars,” Whittall said. “It was awesome battling with Lucas, AJ and Jared. I loved it.”
“We’re happy with it,” Heimbach said. “Last weekend, we weren’t very good at all and made some changes. Lucas got the job done early and navigated everybody a lot faster than I did. That won him the race.”
Flick and 19th starter and speedway point leader Logan Wagner completed the top five. TJ Stutts, Anthony Macri, Ryan Taylor, Mike Wagner and Dylan Cisney rounded out the top 10.
Macri, Wolfe, and Mike Wagner won the heat races.
Courtney saw a sign from above in his win.
“I think we had somebody looking down on us tonight,” he said. “Today would have been Bryan’s (Clauson) 30th birthday. This wins for him. He did a lot for my career and a lot of everybody on this team. He helped us more than he knows. We lost a great guy. This was one of the last races he won out here during Eastern Storm.”
Chris Windom and Courtney shared the front row for the 30-lap main event. Courtney got a good run off the top of turn two racing into the lead on the opening lap. He had a big lead over Windom when the first yellow flag flew with 11 laps competed.
Courtney controlled the restart and pulled away. The race for third was between Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas Jr., and C.J. Leary. Thomas and Leary both passed Stockon, but couldn’t gain any more ground. Thomas blew a right rear tire and hit the third turn wall bringing out the yellow flag with six laps to go. Courtney had several lapped cars between himself and Windom for the restart. He streaked away once again as Windom and Leary raced by the other cars. Leary tried a first turn slider on Windom, but couldn’t make the pass.
Out front, it was all Courtney as he picked up his second win of the season by a straightaway over Windom.
“Tyler was better than us,” Windom said. “He was running harder than I was. I tried to save my tires. I knew tires were going to be an issue at the end of the race. I saw (Kevin Thomas) blow one and I really went into tire saving mode. We came out with a decent finish. We’ll take two wins and a second here in the last three years.”
Windom, Leary, Stockon and Justin Grant completed the top five. Carson Short, Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal, Jarrett Andretti, and Pennsylvania’s Joey Biasi rounded out the top 10. Leary set the fastest lap time at 18.105 seconds — a track record.
Leary, Bacon, and Windom won the heat races. Leary broke the eight-lap record in the first heat race (2:33.36) and then Bacon broke that mark in the second heat (2:32.57). Cloud cover and an afternoon shower made the racing surface super-fast.