Garrett Bard closes out season with his 9th win
From staff reports
PORT ROYAL–Garrett Bard locked up the 2020 Penns Valley Meat Market PA Sprint Series 305 Sprint Car championships Saturday night after picking up the win in the 9th Annual Keystone RaceSaver Challenge at Port Royal Speedway.
The win was Bard’s fifth of the 2020 race season at the Juniata County oval and came during the premier event for the affordable, recreational series.
“When we put this car together our goal was just to make the race as I was focused on winning the title here,” said Bard, who crashed a car two weeks ago at Port Royal Speedway. “When I went into that first turn during group hot laps the car didn’t turn at all and the set up was just way off to what I’m used to. To be standing here tonight is pretty special knowing all we went through to be here.”
After a red flag halted the initial start, Bard used the outside line to pass pole sitter Robbie Batchy at the drop of the green flag and he immediately set sail on the field. Fourth starter Christian Rumsey settled into second, while fifth starter Justin Clark moved into fourth.
With Bard setting a torrid pace, Clark was on the move. On lap six he used the bottom of the speedway in turn’s one and two to take the runner up position and he set his sights on Bard.
Bard entered lap traffic on lap seven and he was struggling to dispatch the slower cars initially, which allowed Clark to cut the distance in half by lap 10. Two laps later Clark was within two car-lengths of the leader and with 11 to go Clark was right on the tail tank of the leader heading to the start/finish line.
However, any chance at making a pass was halted when Jason Roush got turned around directly in front of the leaders in turn two to bring out the caution.
“When I got to traffic I was having all sorts of trouble with the car and I was having trouble getting on the brakes,” said Bard. “We had that caution and I knew Justin was right there. I knew though with only 11 to go I likely wasn’t going to get back into traffic and I was great in clean air.”
Another caution halted racing action two laps later, but Bard was not to be denied as he again jumped out to a lengthy lead during a return to green. With four laps to go, Clark was chipping away at the leader and with two laps remaining Bard was closing on lap cars.
Clark made a last lap effort to go to the bottom in turn’s three and four, but it wasn’t enough to pass Bard, who took the checkered flag by a margin of .882 seconds over Clark, Rumsey, Jared Zionkowski and Ken Duke Jr.
Devin Adams finished sixth and was the night’s hard charger by gaining 10 positions. Barthcy, Doug Dodson, Greg Dabrosky and Nick Sweigart rounded out the top-ten.
“I know starting second made things easier, but it was by no means an easy night,” said Bard. “I have to thank my dad for busting his butt to get this car together and my whole team for getting us this far. This has been a special season and I’m thankful to be in victory lane.”
For Clark, he thought he needed more laps and was surprised to be as close as he was at the finish.
“I knew that starting position was going to be prime to win this race, but maybe with two more laps we’d have had something for him,” said Clark. “It’s never easy coming up one spot short, but this is a good way to end the season and we’ll try again next year.”
Following the feature, there was the annual Founder’s Cup for all non-qualifier drivers and Will Brunson picked up the win over Jeff Geiges, Mike Alleman, Colton Hoover and Dustin Young.
Branston Shue started on the pole for the event and looked to be in control for the first two laps when the caution flew for an two-car incident in turn two. Shue was forced to the pit area under caution though after a right-rear tire went flat from contact made with the outside guardrail.
Brunson inherited the lead and held on to lead the final 13 laps to pick up the victory by 2.089 seconds.
Tyler Cochran, Erin Statler, Kristina Pratt, Jimmy White and Reed Thompson rounded out the top ten.
“It’s not real easy to get here in victory lane, even if it is a non qualifier race,” said Brunson, who earned a guaranteed starting spot in next year’s event as a result of winning. “This is crazy and I can’t thank everyone enough for getting me to this point.”
Keystone RaceSaver Challenge Results- 1. Garrett Bard 2. Justin Clark 3. Christian Rumsey 4. Jared Zionkowski 5. Ken Duke Jr. 6. Devin Adams 7. Robbie Bartchy 8. Doug Dodson 9. Greg Darbrosky 10. Nick Sweigart 11. Dave Brown 12. Domenic Melair 13. Kassidy Kreitz 14. Jacob Gomola 15. Dave Grube 16. John Walp 17. Nathan Gramley 18. Jeremi Hanson 19. Josh Spicer 20. Kruz Kepner 21. Rick Stief 22. Mikell McGee 23. Ian Detweiler 24. Dale Schweikart 25. Ryan Lynn 26. Jason Roush 27. Larry Mcvay