Port Royal Speedway hosted its biggest weekend of the year this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the 53rd annual Tuscarora 50 sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.
Thursday was a make-up for an previously cancelled All-Star show during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was right back to Port Royal for just three days after Monday's Labor Day show. An excellent 46-car field of sprint cars were on hand including stars like Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart, Christopher Bell, Rico Abreu, Shane Stewart, Kerry and Ian Madsen, Brian Brown, Gio Scelzi along with all of the All-Stars and central Pennsylvania best.
Cory Eliason, who won on opening day at Port Royal back in March, passed Tony Stewart on lap 13 and went on for the $6,000 victory. It was the California driver's third All Star win in the past nine events after entering August without a series victory for the runner-up in points. Kerry Madsen passed Stewart on the final lap to finish second, with Gio Scelzi and Tyler Courtney — making his first Port Royal winged sprint start — completing the top five.
The rest of the weekend belonged to Lance Dewease with more than 50 cars on hand. The Fayetteville driver won Friday's "Night Before the 50" to win $6,000 in his milestone 40th career series win, then pocketed Saturday's 50-lap race, worth $53,000 plus $1,275 in lapped money in the biggest sprint car race to date this season. The race, Dewease's record seventh "Tuscarora 50" victory, came in front of a record crowd, and was his 115th Port Royal win.
The "Pennsylvania Posse" swept the podium Saturday, with Anthony Macri finishing second and Dylan Cisney third. Larson, who destroyed a car Thursday night, raced from 22nd to fourth with Eliason completing the top five. Western Pennsylvania racers A.J. Flick and Sye Lynch, both of Apollo, struggled all weekend. Lynch was 24th on Friday, but neither made any of the other features.
After losing the racing season's prior two months due to COVID-19 restrictions set by the Ohio Department of Health, Sharon Speedway finally received the green lightthis past Friday and Saturday for the annual "Apple Festival Nationals." A total of 190 race cars participated over the two nights in the seven divisions.
The RUSH Late Models raced on the new red clay surface Friday night for the first time ever. Max Blair winning the division's first race at Sharon since the 2016 "Apple Festival Nationals."
Blair, who has won five of the last seven National Weekly Series Championships for RUSH, went third to first on the first lap and held off late race charges by Matt Latta, Darrell Bossard, and Josh Ferry for the $800 victory. It was the 30-year-old Centerville driver's eighth career win. Bossard was second after Latta slammed the turn four fence on the final lap. Ferry moved up to third with New York's Genco and RUSH's "Futures Cup" points leader, Logan Zarin, completing the top five.
Brian Ruhlman had finished second in three of the last four RUSH Sprint Car races at Sharon dating back to last season. In fact, Ruhlman had been the bridesmaid numerous times over the past three seasons in RUSH competition throughout the circuit. On Friday night, Ruhlman started sixth and used every inch of the surface making the winning pass around the outside on points leader Jeremy Weaver on lap 16 to capture his first career RUSH Sprint win, worth $500.
Ruhlman became the third different winner in as many 2020 races at Sharon. The 50-year-old Clarklake, Mich, racer won over Weaver, Steve Pedley, who won his first career race on July 12, Andy Feil, and big-block modified racer Rick Regalski of Slippery Rock, who made his first RUSH start.
Defending and two-time RUSH Sportsman Modified weekly series champion Garrett Krummert led from start to finish in an uncharacteristically caution-filled 20-lap feature. Krummert's first Sharon win of the season was far from easy, as he had to fend off "Route 7 Rumble" series points leader Rob Kristyak taking the win by a mere 0.116 of a second for the $600 payday.
The 30-year-old Ellwood City racer now has six RUSH Modified wins at Sharon for his career and seven overall at the track. Volant's Josh Deems, who always runs well at Sharon, was third over Tony Tatgenhorst. Chas Wolbert charged back through the field to finish fifth after an early flat tire.
The Sportsman Dwarf Cars made their annual appearance at the track and Shayne Meadows garnered his first career Sharon victory. The Deerfield, Ohio racer made the winning pass on lap five from Doug Stanley to score the $600 victory in the 15-lap feature. Caution flags on laps 12, 13, and 14 gave Stanley additional chances, but he was unable to unseat the leader and eventual winner.
Stanley, a former sprint car racer in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, was second. Angie Grzelak of Hubbard, Ohio, beat her brother Joe to the finish third as another woman, Tiffany Williams, was fifth.
Central Ohio driver Cole Duncan has taken a liking to the red clay surface at Sharon Speedway. On Saturday night, Duncan raced from the fourth starting spot to the lead on lap 19, passing Dan Kuriger and kept Lee Jacobs at bay over the final five laps to capture the $3,000 "410" sprint car feature win. Duncan became the fourth different winner in four races this year with his third career win- all coming since opening night 2019 in a limited number of starts.
"This place is so cool- every time we come here it never disappoints," expressed the 28-year-old Circleville, Ohio driver. "It's a really fun race track. We were really, really good early. Kuriger was really good too, but I felt like I could start rolling the middle and that's where I got him in lapped traffic. I think he was actually better in open track. Then when I got the lead, I didn't feel as good after those restarts not having as much grip in turns three and four so I was hoping those guys wouldn't be searching around. I felt them there and knew I had to go as hard as I could and keep the tires under me. You look up and see Lee there — he's been doing this quite a while and there's a lot of tradition in the Jacobs family. It's good to race with those guys. I'm glad there was a good field of cars as it makes it more special."
Duncan withstood Jacobs' late charge charge, taking the victory by just 0.698 of a second in his #22. Bowser was third. Dan Shetler came on late to finish fourth after starting 12th. Spithaler was fifth.
Chris Schneider has never been a full-time weekly competitor at Sharon Speedway, but when the #55 shows up he's generally the car to beat, with numerous high dollar stock car wins over the years. On Saturday, Schneider started seventh, passed Curt J. Bish on lap 15, and went mostly unchallenged over the remaining laps to capture the $2,000 payday for the Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Championship Series. Twenty-seven cars started the 25-lap feature, which went non-stop in 8:20.450.
Schneider, a 41-year-old from Lower Burrell, claimed his 13th career Sharon win against Bish, who won last year's $10,000 "Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals" and earned $1,000 for second. Randy Wyant was third over Chris McGuire. After getting up to third on lap 14, Alan Dellinger faded to fifth at the finish. There were 42 stocks on hand.
Dellinger and Ty Rhoades led the 25-lap "Kyle Miller Memorial" for the Elite Econo Mod Series to green, but the front row starters suffered major terminal issues on lap three, which allowed fourth-starting Jeremy Double to fly into the lead. Double would then survive nine restarts to end a winless drought of nearly six years with his first win on the red clay surface at Sharon. Double's last win came back on Sept. 20, 2014. The win was worth more than $2,300, including bonuses.
Even with the long gap, the 24-year-old Bristolville, Ohio, driver now has 14 wins for his career, which is good enough for third on the all-time win list, just one behind Steve Haefke. Coleton Longwell's second was his best-ever finish at Sharon. Nate Young started third and finished third. Dustin DeMattia, who won on opening night back on June 27, was fourth. Stoneboro's Andy Buckley raced from 11th to fifth. There were 32 cars on hand.
Chas Wolbert brought down the curtain on this year's "Apple Festival Nationals," winning his biggest race of the year for $800 in the 20-lap RUSH Sportsman Modified feature, part of the "Route 7 Rumble" series. Wolbert's second Sharon victory of the year allowed him to maintain his lead in the RUSH Weekly Series Championship standings.
It was three-wide for the lead on laps two and three with Rob Kristyak, Josh Deems, and Wolbert battling it out. Wolbert went through the middle for a winning move on the third lap and went on for his all-time division-leading 15th career Sharon win. The racing from second through sixth was tremendous with numerous position changes. After a third-place finish Friday night, Deems did one better Saturday night, taking home the runner-up spot. Kristyak recorded his second podium finish in as many nights. Kole Holden was fourth over 11th-starting Jim Rasey. A total of 29 different RUSH Sportsman Modifieds competed over the two days.
• Lernerville will get back to racing this Friday night with a "Fab Four" event featuring "410" sprint cars, big-block modifieds, super late models, and stocks. Race time is 7:30 p.m.
• After a weekend off, Erie Speedway also gets back to racing this weekend with its annual "September Sweep" Friday and Saturday night. The super late models are the main attraction along with the RUSH Late Models, E-mods, stock cars, econo mods, and more.
• Morning rain Sunday wiped out the super late models' return to Tri-City Raceway Park in Franklin for the second time this year. Tri-City has a huge show this weekend with prelims Saturday and seven feature events Sunday. The "410" sprint cars and big-block modifieds lead the way racing for $5,000-to-win each. Racing begins early Sunday at 4 p.m.
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