PORT ROYAL, PA – The ‘Speed Palace’ lived up to the hype on Friday night.
So did Ryan Watt.
Port Royal Speedway hosted the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco big-block/small-block Modifieds for the first time and the ‘Electric Company’ Watt shined the brightest in a 40-lap thriller. Watt prevailed after young Brandon Grosso stole the show for much of the main.
Boyertown, Pa.’s Watt, who started 10th, got the lead coming to the white flag and etched his name in the record books as the inaugural winner at Port Royal in the sixth round of the STSS Velocita-USA South Region.
Modifieds returned to Port Royal for the first time in more than 30 years on Friday night in a doubleheader with the 410 Sprint Cars appropriately dubbed the ‘Speed Showcase’ by Port Royal Speedway’s Steve O’Neal and BD Motorsports Media LLC, who co-promoted the event.
“This is an awesome facility,” exclaimed event winner Watt, who took home $5,000 for his Ron Roberts-owned team. “I want to thank the series, the speedway and all the fans who came out tonight. I hope we can do this again next year!”
A strong mid-October field of 36 STSS Modifieds attempted to qualify, with 26 making the feature event following four heat races and a B-Main.
From the outside pole, Duane Howard shot into the lead at the wave of Warren Alston’s green flag with the Norm Hansell-owned No. 357. David Van Horn, who started third, launched into second and began his pursuit of the leader.
Van Horn pressured Howard through a lap-17 restart when he put the VAHLCO Wheels No. 323ov into the lead.
However, all eyes were on Grosso.
Grosso had started from sixth position and dropped back in the early laps. Grosso found the extreme outside lane to his liking and began to pick off cars at will. By lap 22, Grosso had cleared them all and put his No. 32 into the lead! His run to the front wasn’t even stalled by heavy contact with a lapped car just circuits before gaining the lead.
Grosso led as Watt began to make his presence felt. Watt used a lap-23 restart to vault from fifth to second.
Watt found his fast line in the middle lane of the spacious half-mile oval, while Grosso continued to ride inches from the outside wall.
Inside 10 laps to go, Watt began to reel in Grosso, who was encountering the back of the field. With five circuits remaining, Watt was there.
The race’s complexion changed entering turn one on lap 38. Watt drove hard to the inside of Grosso and pulled ahead at the exit of turn two. Grosso switched lanes, drove to the inside and rubbed wheels with Watt.
At the wave of the white, Watt had taken the lead for the first time in the event.
Then, more drama ensued. Delaware star Jordan Watson, who had run inside the top-10 for the entire distance, got turned around on the homestretch and slapped the inside wall, setting up a one-lap dash to the finish.
Watt outgunned Grosso on the single-file restart.
Grosso made a last-ditch effort into turn one and impacted the guardrail in between turns one and two. Grosso couldn’t get the car off the wall, allowing Van Horn and Howard to charge into second and third, respectively, behind ecstatic race winner Watt.
Watt registered the fifth win of his STSS career. He now owns series wins at five different tracks: Big Diamond Speedway in Minersville, Pa., Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway, Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del., Georgetown (Del.) Speedway and Port Royal.
Watt unofficially takes over the point lead entering the Velocita-USA South Region finale Oct. 26-27 at Georgetown Speedway in the chase for the $10,000 championship.
Van Horn, of Harmony, N.J., continued his string on consistent performances on the 2018 STSS with a $3,000 runner-up finish. Oley, Pa.’s Howard completed the podium after leading early on in the event. Grosso, of Montgomery, N.J., ended his superb ride in fourth. Craig Von Dohren of Oley, Pa., a winner at Port Royal back in 1987, filled out the front five in the Dick Biever-owned No. 14s.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Billy Pauch of Frenchtown, N.J., who started 13th in his K&A Excavating small-block; Mike Gular of Boyertown, Pa., who authored a steady drive from 15th in the Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A; Billy Pauch Jr. of Milford, N.J., up from 22nd in the Bill Pascual-owned No. 3 earning $200 from Precision Hydraulic & Oil, a $50 certificate from VAHLCO Wheels, a $50 certificate from QA1 and a $200 certificate as the Hard Charger; Danny Bouc of Pipersville, Pa., in the Craig and Leslie Pondish-owned No. 6; and Ryan Godown of Ringoes, N.J., driving the Lincoln Auto Body No. 5.
Craig Von Dohren was the overall Fast Timer of the night with a lap of 18.845 seconds, receiving $100 cash from Beyea Headers.
Heat winners, earning $50 certificates courtesy of Beyea Headers, were Howard, Von Dohren, Van Horn and Horton. Jeff Strunk captured the B-Main.
The accompanying 25-lap 410 Sprint Car went to Freddie Rahmer, worth $4,000.
Racing continues for the STSS Modifieds on Thursday, October 18 at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., with the Behrent’s Performance Warehouse ‘Hard Clay Finale’ honoring Rich Eurich: $10,000 to win and $1,000 to start in the finale of the Halmar International North Region. 360 Sprint Cars are also on the program paying $3,000 to win for 25 laps.
To learn more about the 2018 Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail email@example.com, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
SPEED PALACE POINTS: A genuine ‘buzz’ was in the air as the Modifieds made their return to Port Royal Speedway for the first time in more than 30 years. Port Royal promoter Steve O’Neal was pleased with the strong and diverse field of 36 STSS Modifieds in the pit area and hopes to bring the series back in 2019….
Anthony Perrego was scheduled to drive the Gary Simpson-owned No. 12 in the event. Engine issues sidelined the team following track run-in….
Andy Bachetti pulled off the track at the wave of the feature green flag before returning three laps down. Bachetti said power steering issues foiled the debut of his new Bicknell mount….
With all his big-block engines sidelined, Billy Pauch ventured to Port Royal with a 360 cubic inch small-block between the frame rails of his No. 1….
Ms. Motorsports 2018 Leslie Donegan attended the event and assisted with the STSS Modified redraw in the pit area….
Richie Pratt Jr. was aboard the Daniel Sommeling-owned No. 51 for the event but was unable to make the main event….
Track conditions were ideal for the 40-lap main, with four legitimate lanes for racing from top-to-bottom on the Port Royal red clay….
The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Allstar Performance, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, HyperCo, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, K&N, Land Hoe Maintenance, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, QA1, Race Pro Weekly, Racing Optics, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, Vahlco, Velocita, Weld & Wilwood.
‘SPEED SHOWCASE’ RACE SUMMARY – PORT ROYAL SPEEDWAY OCTOBER 12, 2018
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region Event No. 6 Modified Feature Finish (40 laps): RYAN WATT, David Van Horn, Duane Howard, Brandon Grosso, Craig Von Dohren, Billy Pauch, Mike Gular, Billy Pauch Jr., Danny Bouc, Ryan Godown, Justin Wright, Jeff Strunk, James Sweeting, Rick Laubach, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Krachun, Neal Williams, Matt Hawkins, Robert Dutton, Andy Bachetti, Jordan Watson, Brett Kressley, Billy Van Pelt, Roger Manning, Jimmy Horton, Jim Britt.
Did Not Qualify: Kevin Sockriter, Rick Regalski, Patrick Emerling, Colt Harris, Randy Chronister, Brian Hitz, Matt Stangle, Richie Pratt, Anthony Perrego, Ryan Anderson.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tires): Danny Bouc (ninth) & Justin Wright
ATL Fuel Cells Bonus ($200 Certificate): Craig Von Dohren (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Brandon Grosso (fourth) & Danny Bouc (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Fast Time ($100): Craig Von Dohren (18.845 seconds)
Beyea Custom Headers Heat Winners ($50 Certificates): Duane Howard, Craig Von Dohren, Duane Howard & Jimmy Horton
Beyea Custom Headers Hard Charger ($200 Certificate): Billy Pauch Jr. (22nd to eighth)
Fast Axle Bonus ($50 Certificate): Billy Pauch (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust Power Position ($50 Certificate): Justin Wright (11th)
Precision Hydraulic & Oil Hard Charger ($200 Cash): Billy Pauch Jr. (22nd to eighth)
QA1 Hard Charger ($50 Certificate): Billy Pauch Jr. (22nd to eighth)
Racing Optics Bonus (Tearoff Sleeve): Duane Howard (third)
Sunoco Race Fuels Bonuses ($50 Certificates): David Van Horn (second), Jeff Strunk (12th) & Brett Kressley (22nd)
VAHLCO Wheels Hard Charger ($50 Certificate): Billy Pauch Jr. (22nd to eighth)
WELD Racing Wheels Hard Luck Award (FREE Wheel): Anthony Perrego (DNQ)
Wilwood ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): Mike Gular (seventh)