Flick wins battle at Port Royal
PORT ROYAL – AJ Flick has been fast all season at Port Royal Speedway, but a few blown tires have kept him from sprint car victory lane.
During the Living Legends Dream Race Saturday night, Flick conserved his tires and then drove by Jared Esh after a spectacular back-and-forth battle during the final nine laps.
Once in front, Flick, of Apollo, pulled away winning $10,000. Flick also won his semi-feature earning him an additional $2,000.
Over $55,000 in purse money was handed out to the sprint cars -the largest in Pennsylvania for an unsanctioned race.
“With all my tire issues I’ve had before, I wanted to make sure I made 30 laps, and came out with a good finish, it didn’t even have to be a win. I wanted to come of here with some money,” Flick said.
Teams were allowed to refuel and make minor adjustments following a red flag with nine laps to go.
“We had the open red and my crew came out and told me all the tires and everything was fine,” Flick said. “I said to myself ‘let’s throw (caution) to the wind and give it all we got.'”
“I knew we had a really good racecar,” he said. “Even when we had a long green flag run, Jared didn’t pull me and I wasn’t pushing very hard and he had more clean air than I did. I knew we had the ability to get to the front if I could get passed him.”
Esh had driven to the front and was in control of the 30-lap main event when the red flag flew with 21 laps completed.
“The open red’s tough because you’re racing against people with a lot of experience,” Flick said. “You’re afraid to make the wrong change, but you’re afraid they’re going to get better, too.”
The two young drivers -both under 30 – put on a show for the big crowd following the restart. They traded the lead a few times each lap sliding back and forth by one another. At one point, Flick did nip Esh at the line to lead.
Esh turned off the second turn cushion driving inside Flick off turn two and seemed to have secured the lead, but another yellow flag and a right rear tire going down was too much to overcome.
Flick got a great run off the turn two cushion and down the backstretch blasting under Esh as they raced into turn three following the last yellow.
From there, it was all Flick as he drove away to the win. Esh was trying to hold onto second. He lost the spot to Danny Dietrich and then fended off Lance Dewease to finish third.
“So close”, Esh said. “We were trying to find somebody with a tire patch. We tried to air it up and take bleeders out so it didn’t bleed any air out of it and hoped for the best.”
“I thought we were going to be okay until that other caution,” Esh said. “The heat would have kept it up, but with that caution we ran around there for a little bit. As we were getting towards the end there, I was getting tighter and tighter and I could feel it rolling over and I was just trying to hold on and get the best we could.”
“That was a fun race,” Esh continued. “Kudos to him. He’s had the same uphill battle that we’ve had with tires. That was cool to see him get a win, but 10 grand would have been awesome. When you can still get a good finish, keep it in one piece, and have some fun racing, you can’t beat that.”
Dewease and point leader Logan Wagner completed the top five after starting mid-pack. Blane Heimbach, Landon Myers, Steve Buckwalter, Mike Wagner and TJ Stutts rounded out the top 10.
Joey Gravino (Sprint cars) and Ken Dickson (Late Models) were this year’s Living Legend honorees.
Dietrich set quick time over the 32-car field with a lap of 15.750. Flick won the first 16-lap semi-feature and Esh won the second.
Jeff Rine started on the pole and raced into the lead to start the 25-lap main event for the super late models. Point leader Dylan Yoder was quickly into second with Andy Haus third.
Yoder’s car continued to get faster and after following Rine around the top, they were side-by-side down the backstretch and into the third turn. Yoder came out on top as they raced off turn four completing lap 18 as the leader.
He pulled away from there as Andy Haas took second from Rine over the final laps.
Yoder won by 2.738 seconds earning $2,500 for the victory and has a big 350-point lead in the standings over second place finisher Haus.
“This thing is a lot of fun to drive,” Yoder said. “I got into the wall a couple times, but luckily everything held together. Rine left me just enough room to squeeze around the outside. Once he moved up, he was pretty quick and I didn’t know if I’d be able to get him. He tried the middle one time and I had a good run and got around him. He always races me clean and I try to do the same back.”
Rine, Michael Norris and Chad Myers completed the top five. Tim Smith Jr., Gary Stuhler, Nick Dickson, Mike Lupfer and Gene Knaub rounded out the top 10.