By JUSTIN SNYDER
PORT ROYAL, PA – Ryan Taylor is a multiple time winner at the Port Royal Speedway. With 5 career wins at ‘The Speed Palace’, Taylor knows his way to victory lane on the front stretch.
However, he hadn’t been to victory lane at the track since capturing the biggest victory of his career in the 2013 Dream Race worth $11,580.
That all changed on Saturday when Taylor lead flag to flag for 25 laps on a daytime surface to best weekend invader Dale Blaney and a hungry Lucas Wolfe to claim his 6th career Weikert’s Livestock 410 series victory at the Juniata County oval.
“This thing was rolling around the top really nice tonight,” said Taylor, a Perkasie, Pa native. “Everybody did their part tonight and all of our sponsors who put us in this position, I just can’t thank them enough”
Taylor and Wolfe led the field to the green and Taylor jumped out to a quick lead, while 4th starting Jared Esh moved into second to set the pace. However, Brock Zearfoss would slow on the front stretch after only 2 laps to bring out the first caution.
Once back to green flag action, Taylor would once again jump out to a big lead, using the top to fly around the track. Meanwhile Wolfe would move into the 2nd position on lap 3, while 6th starting Blaney moved into 4th.
Setting a quick pace, Taylor approached lap traffic on lap 8 and attempted to maneuver around Brent Shearer, allowing Wolfe to attempt a slide job in turns 3 and 4. The cars nearly made contact, however Taylor never flinched and powered off the top of the speedway to once again stretch out his lead.
Shearer would spin 5 laps later in turn 3 to once again bunch the cars up under caution. This would serve as the final caution of the race.
On the restart, it was Blaney making his move, sliding Wolfe in turns 1 and 2 to move into the runner up spot, attempting to pick up his first victory in the Sam McGhee Motorsports #11 in only his 4th start with the team.
However, Taylor was focused on the task ahead and never looked back.
“I didn’t know who was behind me and I never looked at the scoreboard,” said Taylor of the hard charging Blaney. “So many times a race can be lost at the end of a race because people start worrying about what is going on behind them”
“I just worried about where my car felt the best, where I had the most grip, where I need to maybe peddle it a little more on exit as it was starting to blow off a bit and I just kept my tires on the ground and tried to save it for the whole race.”
Taylor stretched his lead over Blaney to over a second as he approached lap traffic again on lap 20. And while Blaney was able to cut the lead in half over the final few circuits, he never really was able to muster much of a challenge as Taylor took the $3600 payday for the win.
Behind Blaney, it was Wolfe, Anthony Macri and last season’s track champion Logan Wagner completing the top 5. Danny Dietrich, Dylan Cisney, Spencer Bayston, AJ Flick and Esh rounded out the top 10.
Coming off a season that saw Taylor take a bit of a step back schedule wise, it was a great start to the season for his team. While he’s not ready to commit to battling for a track championship, it’s night’s like these that will make that a possibility going forward
“I don’t know about a championship quite yet and that’s kind of a longshot goal, but we’re going to try and not miss any Saturday nights and race here every week. We really only have one motor and one car, but we’ll make it happen and if 3/4 of the way through the season we feel we’re in contention, we’ll really put our nose down and focus on that,” said Taylor.
“Right now we’re just focused on winning races and getting CP Carillo, MP Auto, Abreu Vineyards and all my sponsors in victory lane as many times as possible this year. I really want to perform for those who support me and getting into victory lane is the best way to do that, so winning races is the ultimate goal this year.”
For Blaney, while he came home as a runner-up, getting more valuable seat time with a new team and contending for wins was a win in itself. After a year that saw the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame driver only run 10 races, he’s prepping to once again head out and chase the Ollie’s Bargain Outlets Tour Championship.
“It was a real good night we had out here against a great field of cars,” said Blaney. “For only being my 4th night out with these guys, I think we got a real nice baseline going forwards. Nights like these will allow for a lot of success hopefully.”
“I got great cars and a great team, so it’s ultimately up to me to get back up to speed and make good decisions on the track. Tonight I felt like we all made good decisions as a team and it was a positive learning step.”
Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Ryan Taylor; 2. Dale Blaney; 3. Lucas Wolfe; 4. Anthony Macri; 5. Logan Wagner; 6. Danny Dietrich; 7. Dylan Cisney; 8. Spencer Bayston; 9. A.J. Flick; 10. Jared Esh; 11. Blane Heimbach; 12. Tyler Reeser; 13. Mike Wagner; 14. Carl Bowser; 15. Rick Lafferty; 16. T.J. Stutts; 17. Jeff Miller; 18. Brent Shearer; 19. Nicole Bower; 20. George Hobaugh; 21. Steve Buckwalter; 22. Brock Zearfoss; 23. Cole Duncan; 24. Justin Whittall; 25. Tony Fiore.
Super Late Models
Following up a season where he was crowned track champion at Port Royal Speedway, Danville, Pa’s Jeff Rine picked right back up where 2018 left off when he picked up his first River Valley Builders Super Late Model Series win of the 2019 season at the Speed Palace.
Rine, who started 7th, bested Austin Hubbard, Dylan Yoder, Mason Zeigler and last weeks ULMS winner at the track Michael Norris for his 24th career triumph at the speedway, tying him for 10th all-time on the speedway win list with Tom Peck
“This is just awesome man. What a surface and what a race,” said Rine, who will alternate between Selinsgrove and Port Royal this season depending on the purse.
Hubbard and Nick Dickson lead the field to the green with Hubbard jumping out to the early lead. While Hubbard stretched his lead, Jason Covert was an early mover, going from his 11th starting spot to 5th by lap 5.
By lap 8, Rine had worked himself up to 3rd, before sliding under Gary Stuhler for 2nd coming out of turn 4. He would set his sights on the leader before racing action would come to a halt due to a slowing Ralph Morgan on lap 13.
Rine would try multiple times to slide under Hubbard after returning to green flag action , before ultimately pulling the winning move in turn 1 with a slide-job on lap 20.
“The track was soo good and I really didn’t know where to go out there,” said Rine. “I got a head of steam and momentum there going into turn 1 and I just rode it like a bucking bronco and was able to make it stick.
Rine would hit lap traffic on lap 25 with 5 laps to go, however Hubbard would never mount a comeback as Rine, pumping his fist out the window down the backstretch would cruise to a 1.433 second victory.
For Hubbard, he was just happy to come home second after leading 20 laps.
“Jeff was just better than us. It’s that simple,” said Hubbard, of Laurel, De. “It was a lot of fun, but ultimately the best car won tonight and second is really all we can ask for.”
Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Jeff Rine 2. Austin Hubbard 3. Dylan Yoder 4. Mason Zeigler 5. Michael Norris 6. Jason Covert 7. Nick Dickson 8. Gary Stuhler 9. Tim Smith Jr. 10. Gene Knaub 11. Matt Cosner 12. Dillan Stake 13. Dan Stone 14. Mike Lupfer 15. Andy Haus 16. Max Blair 17. Mike Pehger 18. Michael Lake 19. Austin Berry 20. Hayes Mattern 21. Bryan Berhheisel DNF: Justin Weaver, Ralph Morgan, Justin Kann
Limited Late Models
Port Royal’s own Devin Hart capitalized on a pole position starting spot to take home the Selinsgrove Ford Limited Late Model opener over Todd Snook, Andrew Yoder, Derick Garman and Donnie Farling.
Yoder jumped out to the early lead over Hart as they both led the field to the green for the 20 lap feature.
After dropping back to 4th early, Hart used the top to move into 2nd on lap 5 and set his sights on Yoder. Both cars made contact on lap 9, before Hart took the lead for good using the bottom in turn 3 and 4 in lap traffic on lap 12.
Snook would pass Yoder for 2nd on lap 14. Following a lap 16 caution for 2 spinning cars in turn 3, Hart would hold off all challenges for the $800 payday by .558 second at the line.
Kenny Yoder, Troy Miller, Taylor Farling, Devin Frey and Steve Kenty would complete the top 10.
Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Devin Hart 2. Todd Snook 3. Andrew Yoder 4. Derick Garman 5. Donnie Farling 6. Kenny Yoder 7. Troy Miller 8. Taylor Farling 9. Devin Frey 10. Steve Kent 11. Tyler Ritchey 12. Shaun Miller 13. Jared Fulkroad 14. JR Toner 15. Rick Singleton DNF: Ryan Zook, Drew Weisser, Scott Landis, Chase Bowsman, Curt Dunn, Ethan Beasom, Dan Berry