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Port Royal set to kick off 2022 Sunday

PORT ROYAL — Another busy and lucrative racing season kicks off Sunday afternoon at Port Royal Speedway. Racing is set to begin at 2 p.m. The sprint cars will race for a $5,000 top prize, and the late models $3,000.

A practice session is set for Saturday afternoon from 1 until 4 and is open to any division on the schedule.

“As of this moment, the weather looks positive for this coming weekend for us to get things going at Port Royal,” promoter Steve O’Neal said.

Should the Sunday afternoon opener get canceled, the season opener shifts to Saturday afternoon, March 12. The schedule once again consists of the sprint cars and late models.

Last season, Lance Dewease won the first sprint car feature and Trevor Feathers won the late models. Two years ago, it was Cory Eliason in the sprints and Feathers.

Thanks to O’Neal, his promotional team, countless volunteers and the Juniata County Agricultural Society, Port Royal is now one of the top dirt track racing facilities in the country.

O’Neal took over promotional duties in 2011. He’s won Promoter of the Year from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame the past six seasons.

Many high-paying events dot the schedule, not only for the sprint cars, but for the late models and limited late models as well. Plus, several traveling divisions will make stops for big races at the Juniata County speed palace during the season.

“I’m looking forward to a great season again at Port Royal Speedway,” O’Neal said. “I think everyone is ready to get out and enjoy themselves and have some fun after another winter of fighting the pandemic.

“I was in Florida for Speedweeks and all the tracks had great car and fan turnouts which is a great sign for 2022 racing,” O’Neal said. “I went down to Lincoln Speedway for their opener on Sunday and again a great crowd and car turnout.”

While racing season is off to a positive start, skyrocketing prices for everything and supply chain issues could become a problem.

“I try to be as optimistic as possible,” he said. “But, again could things change as the year progresses, absolutely. A lot of the parts and tire manufacturing companies are still trying to catch up the same as a lot of other companies in the world. And at the same time, the racing season is longer and busier than it has ever been. With everything that is going on in our country, and in the world, I hope as everyone else does that fuel prices don’t get completely out of control.”

It doesn’t take long for the track to host a doubleheader weekend. On Saturday, March 19, the sprint cars are joined by the United Late Model Series, and the season’s first appearance by the limited late models.

The next day, the Short Track Super Series for the modifieds will tackle the speedway, along with the late models.

Logan Wagner of Harrisonville is the four-time and defending sprint car champion. He joins Keith Kauffman as the only driver to win four straight sprint car championships at the track. Nobody has five straight. Wagner also won the Tuscarora 50 last season.

A last lap pass secured Selinsgrove’s Dylan Yoder his second late model championship last season.

Port Royal’s Devin Hart won the limited late model track championship.

One big addition to the schedule is a mid-week appearance by the World of Outlaws sprint cars on Wednesday night, July 20. The Outlaws will return for their normal two-day show in October as well.

Another big addition is the USAC Eastern Blast on Saturday, June 18. This will feature the USAC Sprint Cars, USAC Silver Crown cars and the sprint cars in a very unique racing program during the annual USAC Eastern Storm.

The first Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek race for the track is Wednesday, July 29, and the Greg Hodnett Classic will be held Saturday July 2 for the track’s second Speedweek race.

The 16th Annual Living Legends Dream Race is set for Saturday, July 30.

The 55th Annual Tuscarora 50, paying $55,000 to win, is set for Saturday, Sept. 10.

“We have a very exciting schedule again this year, and I sure hope we continue to get the great support that we have been getting from the greatest fans and teams in the country,” he said. “We have three huge races paying $50,000 to win or more for the top three divisions in dirt track racing (sprints, late models and big block modifieds).

“Besides those events, we have the Lucas Oil Late models twice at the speedway and the World of Outlaws late models in for a show and the United Late Model Series in for three shows, besides some of the best weekly late model racing in the country,” he added.

Port Royal also features flat track motorcycles again this year, some bigger races for Pennsylvania Sprint Series 305s and the limited late models.

“For our non-wing fans in the area, we have several races booked for them with a new huge show called the ‘Eastern blast’ that will feature the USAC National Sprints along with the USAC Silver Crown cars, along with our weekly 410 sprints,” O’Neal said. “I’m so proud of the schedule we have put together which I feel is one of if not the most exciting schedules in the country.”

Improvements continued during the winter.

“The biggest off-season project at the fairgrounds was building of the barn to replace the one that was torn down last year to expand the pits,” he said. “With the cost of building materials jumping like they did this project ended up being the main project. The fair board is also in the process of finishing the suite project on top of the new pits stands.”

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