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Halligan edges Cisney to pick up win

Berry earns first win in super late models

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Eventual winner Jeff Halligan (45), Logan Wagner (1) and Tyler Bear (25) move past a slowing of Mike Walter II (33w) during the 410 sprint car feature.

PORT ROYAL–Jeff Halligan caught a lucky break and then came out on top of a back-and-forth battle with Dylan Cisney to win the 25-lap Sprint car feature Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway, while Austin Berry came out on top of a four-car battle for the late model feature win.

Halligan’s first Port Royal win of the season, and second of his career, was worth $4,000 in his own No. 45.

“Last week, I thought I had a really good shot to win that race,” Halligan said, referring to a runner-up finish to Jared Esh on June 5.

Halligan started sixth and was running second as polesitter and race-long leader Tyler Walton had the feature under control with less than 10 laps to go.

Walton’s shot at the win came to an end as his hood started coming off blocking his vision. The yellow flag flew as Walton slowed. Halligan led Cisney, George Hobaugh and Wagner for the restart with eight to go.

Halligan’s engine stumbled on the restart giving Cisney a clean shot at a first turn slider. They swapped the lead with Halligan leading down the backstretch. They’d swap the top spot again in turns three and four. Wagner passed Hobaugh for third.

It was far from over as Cisney threw sliders at Halligan again at each end of the speedway. Each time, Halligan turned back under him.

The closest slider came the next time around as they nearly made contact at the top of turn two.

After that, the top three were back racing around a blazing-fast cushion that saw times in the mid 16-second bracket in the main event.

“It was hard to pass all night,” Halligan said. “Restarts was where you had to pass and I knew that. Our motor stumbled and I knew Dylan wasn’t going to be patient and give it everything he had right there because he knew two laps later it was going to be over and I knew that, too.”

Hobaugh slowed from fourth with a flat left rear tire bringing out the yellow with four to go.

Halligan, of Ephrata, got a better restart this time as the final laps saw Cisney and Wagner trading second spot. They threw big sliders at one another with Wagner scoring his fourth straight runner-up finish and sixth on the season. Cisney settled for third with Esh racing from ninth to fourth and 11th starter Mike Wagner completing the top five.

Wagner, the three-time and defending sprint car champion, has finished in the top five in 11 of 12 races.

“That was fun,” Wagner said. “I was really picking them off early, doing really good for the first lap and a half. I don’t know what happened to the 33 (Mike Walter II), going into one, but he really slowed up, and I got into the back of him. Everybody was trying to get by him. That’s when Cisney and a couple others got by me. I was waiting for the yellow and it never came. We had a really good car and had a really good night.”

Cisney talked about the sliders with Wagner.

“That was all I had,” Cisney said. “I tried everything I could do, just couldn’t get it. I needed one corner to come off with the lead and just maintain it. I think we were the better car out of everybody. Just couldn’t get in that clean air for a full lap. You start racing like that, it’s wide-open every corner, every lap and we’re all but touching wheels and touching bumpers, somebody slips an extra inch, you’re junking racecars. Glad it was a good show for the fans.”

Blane Heimbach, AJ Flick, Anthony Macri, Gerard McIntyre Jr. and Justin Whittall rounded out the top 10.

Heat races for the 21 cars were won by Ryan Smith, Walton and Mike Walter II.

Not to be outdone by the sprint cars, the 25-lap super late model feature came down to the end with four cars in contention for the $3,000 win.

Port Royal’s own Austin Berry would hold on for his first career victory by .169 as the top four cars finished nose-to-tail.

Trevor Feathers, Colton Flinner and Gary Stuhler followed Berry across the line. Feathers ducked under Berry numerous times for the lead, but could never make the pass. Flinner also made a bid for the lead at one point.

“We live 10 minutes from here,” Berry said. “We can’t drive by this place and go race anywhere else, but we also know we work extremely hard, and we probably would have won a race by now if we go race somewhere other than Port Royal, but my dad and I always said whenever we started racing, if we’re going to win and be one of the good cars in the pit area, we want to race against the best, and that’s why we’re here.”

“Handicapped tonight, we get to start up front, and it shows what we can do,” Berry said. “It’s cool to start sixth or eighth and win a race, but I don’t care if I started a half-lap ahead, if I win here, I win. That is the hardest 25 laps I’ve ever driven around this place.”

“I wasn’t good enough around the middle to the bottom and he was carrying so much speed on entry, and catching the cushion off the corner to get going,” Feathers said. “He did what he had to do to get the win.”

“This is 100 percent a late model track right now,” Flinner said. “That was the most bad a** late model race I think anybody will ever see.”

Jamie Lathroum, Jeff Rine, Don Lingo Jr., Dillan Stake, Nick Dickson and Tyler Bare rounded out the top 10. Heats for the 32 cars were won by Lingo, Feathers, Lathroum and Rine. Trent Brenneman won the consolation.

Allenwood’s Derek Hauck outdueled defending 305 sprint car champion Garrett Bard to win the 20-lap main event. Hauck also raced from last to win his heat race earlier in the night. Bard, Dominic Melair, Devin Adams and Kassidy Kreitz completed the top five.

Christian Rumsey, Dave Grube, Jeff Weaver, Erin Statler and Roger Irvine rounded out the top 10. Heat races for the 46 cars were won by Dustin Young, Hauck, Kreitz, Bard and Weaver. Kruz Kepner and John Fiore won the twin B-mains.

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