PORT ROYAL, Pa. — If there is one thing for certain in the world of sprint car competition, one can never count out Lance Dewease at Port Royal Speedway, especially when the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 are in town.
With a little bit of luck in the form of a late-race caution, Dewease, driver of the familiar Schannauer Plumbing and Heating/Hess Iron/Kreitz Oval Track Parts/No. 69K, muscled his way around race-long leader, Danny Dietrich, to earn a Series-leading tenth Port Royal Speedway victory during All Star action, climbing his way forward from the outside of row four. Impressive enough, Dewease has won seven of the last eight All Star contests at the Port Royal ‘Speed Palace,’ raising his overall win total with the Tony Stewart-owned organization to 38.
“I grew up racing at this place. I’ve raced here 30-plus years now,” Lance Dewease said in Keith Kauffman Classic victory lane. “This is like a home to me and I’ve always had success here. This car just doubles all of that. I’m just excited to be here. To get a win during our second night out, I’m happy as heck.”
Wasting little time after the drop of the initial green, Dewease powered his way to fifth in one circuit, eventually taking the fourth position away from Steve Buckwalter by the completion of lap two.
In the meantime, it was all Danny Dietrich at the front of the field, keeping a safe distance between himself and fellow front row starter, Anthony Macri, during the first five circuits. By lap seven, Macri was all over the tailtank of the Gary Kauffman Racing entry, actually pulling even with Dietrich as the pair raced toward the flagstand to complete lap eight. With traffic creating a momentum shift, Macri pulled even with Dietrich once again, this time as the pair battled through turns one and two on lap nine. Unfortunately for Macri, contact between himself and Dietrich at the end of the backstretch caused the front-end to break sending Macri hard into the inside guardrail. A slow rollover would force the main event’s first and only red flag stoppage; Macri walked away unharmed.
When green flag action returned, Dewease pounced again, not only gaining a position due to Macri’s misfortune, but the Fayetteville-native also worked around six-time All Star champion, Dale Blaney. With Dewease firmly in second, the new target was Danny Dietrich.
Traffic returned to the picture shortly after the field reached the halfway point of the 30-lap program. Although Dietrich was able to navigate slower traffic, Dewease kept the Gettysburg-native in-check, eventually erasing Dietrich’s advantage to less than a car length by lap 20. Despite Dewease’s ability to show speed in traffic, Dietrich prevailed, soon escaping to a half-straightaway lead by lap 26.
The break that Dewease needed occurred on lap 28, as Brock Zearfoss pulled to a stop with a flat right-rear tire resulting in a caution. On the ensuing restart, Dewease made his winning move, soon driving to the outside of Dietrich as the pair battled through turns one and two. Dewease did not take the lead, officially, until the exit of turn four, actually driving around Dietrich through the entire corner, beating the recent Port Royal winner back to the flagstand to complete lap 29. From that point forward, it was all Lance Dewease.
“I was happy because I had a shot,” Lance Dewease said regarding the late-race restart. “I had a line where I could run the middle for a couple laps, but the longer I ran, I couldn’t hold the line any longer. At one point, I was just trying to save my tires to see what would happen at the end. I knew if I got a run on Danny [Dietrich] and pulled even with him, he wouldn’t be able to get off the corner.”
Danny Dietrich held on to finish second, a second consecutive runner-up finish during All Star competition, followed by a 13th-starting Logan Wagner, Aaron Reutzel, and Dale Blaney.
“I’ve already heard it from enough people, but I didn’t try to crash Anthony [Macri],” Danny Dietrich immediately noted. “That’s not how I race. I never knew he was there. And if I wanted to race like that, I would have moved up on Lance [Dewease] when he was racing around me in turn four. I actually thought we were really good in traffic. I really didn’t want to see that last caution.”
Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champions will conclude their four-race turned three-race sweep through Virginia and Pennsylvania with a visit to Bedford Speedway in Bedford, Pa., on Sunday, April 14. Honoring the legendary Roy Morral, the All Stars will battle for a $5,000 top prize during their visit to the Bedford Fairgrounds half-mile; the first and only visit for the traveling All Stars in 2019.
Bedford Speedway officials will swing open pit gates at 7 a.m. on Sunday, April 14. A recent change due to potential incoming weather, the All Star drivers meeting will be conducted at 2 p.m., followed by hot laps at 3 p.m., sharp. Those wanting to learn more should visit Bedford Speedway live on the Web at www.bedfordspeedway.com.
-All Star Circuit of Champions Press Release
-Photo credit: Paul Arch