PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Something about Port Royal Speedway clicks with Mat Williamson.
After capturing the $50,000 prize in the Speed Showcase 200 at the track last October, the 2019 Super DIRTcar Series champion returned to Port Royal Sunday and hit paydirt again.
Williamson passed Stewart Friesen with 10 laps to go and went on to win the 40-lap, $5,000-to-win Short Track Super Series feature at the Pennsylvania half mile.
“Coming to Port Royal in March, for me, is better than anywhere else we could have gone,” Williamson said. “I like this place. I feel pretty confident when I walk in the gate. … It’s just one of those places that suits your driving style. It’s a racy, big place.”
“It’s big to get one early in the year,” Williamson said. “Hopefully, this will kick [our season] off and we can get the win total up this year.”
Friesen led the first 30 laps, but Williamson ran a methodical pace and saved his best for when he needed it.
Williamson started eighth and by lap six he had worked around polesitter Jessica Friesen for second. By that point, Stewart Friesen had built a four-second lead, utilizing the top in turns one and two and the bottom on the other end of the track.
Williamson, meanwhile, stayed patient on the bottom. When Stewart Friesen caught lapped traffic, Williamson closed to just mere car lengths before Anthony Perrego brought out the caution on lap 17.
On that green flag run, the bottom became the desired groove and Stewart Friesen focused on protecting his position. That is until he got antsy and tried passing a slower car in the middle of the track, which opened the door for Williamson.
While Stewart Friesen hung it out wide with 10 laps to go, Williamson stayed true to the bottom and drove by.
“Then it was game over,” said Friesen, who then got passed by Mike Mahaney to finish third. “I got impatient with a lapped car and tried to get rolling on the top. There was nothing there.”
A few laps before that, Williamson showed Friesen his nose on the outside, perhaps playing a bit of trickery and fooling Friesen the middle of the track was workable. From there, Friesen had one last shot on a restart with eight laps to go, but lost second to Mahaney trying to make the cushion work.
“Once it locked up on the bottom, that was it,” said Friesen, fresh off a 10th-place run with the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday.
For Williamson, it’s his second career Short Track Super Series win. Last year, he scored 16 wins in 50 big block modified races across the country. This year, win No. 1 of the year came in his sixth start.
“We got lucky in lapped traffic,” Williamson said. “We had to put ourselves in a position to be there for when it did come up. … We’ll take them where we can get them. Obviously, tonight was a good one. We’re happy with it.”
Jessica Friesen finished fourth while Larry Wright placed fifth.
Gregg Satterlee won the companion super late model feature Sunday afternoon.
Mat Williamson, Mike Mahaney, Stewart Friesen, Jessica Friesen, Larry Wight, Tyler Dippel, Matt Stangle, Max McLaughlin, Ryan Godown, Billy Decker, Craig Von Dohren, Frank Cozze, Erick Rudolph, Billy Pauch Jr., Peter Britten, Michael Maresca, Alex Yankowski, Duane Howard, Dominick Buffalino, Joseph Watson, Matt Sheppard, J.R. Heffner, David Van Horn, Kyle Coffey, John Willman, Ryan Watt, Andy Bachetti, Brandon Grosso, Jimmy Horton, Anthony Perrego, Danny Bouc.