PORT ROYAL, Pa. — In a race filled with haymakers and counters, hard-chargers and goers, uncanny events and a four-way battle for the win Wednesday night at Port Royal Speedway, it all distilled to a rather routine result.
The prevailing nature of Kyle Larson trumpeted a new yet familiar tune in round six of Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek at the clay oval.
It‘s familiar because for the 16th time this year across four disciplines of auto racing, Larson roared to victory lane, the latest a $7,000 payday over the Pennsylvania Posse‘s finest, Lance Dewease and Danny Dietrich.
The NASCAR Cup Series wins leader led just three of 30 laps, clobbered the wall three times over the final 15 circuits, soared to the lead with three laps to go only to give it right back, all while regathering himself to squeeze past Lucas Wolfe on the backstretch with a lap and a half remaining for the win.
It is Larson‘s seventh win in 12 races at the Port Royal half-mile clay oval since July 4 last year.
“It was bad ass,” Larson said. “And I‘m sure the fans probably enjoyed it.”
“Probably the most exciting win I‘ve had here [at Port Royal],” Larson added. “I mean, I‘ve had some exciting wins here, but never in that fashion, like when it came down to a green-flag run, a late pass for the win.”
Larson‘s performance isn‘t even the basis of the drama-filled night. Dewease and the Kreitz Racing team couldn‘t solve fuel pickup issues for the longest time.
Anthony Macri, a nine-time winner at the track since June 14 of last year, flipped out of the lead on lap eight when he couldn‘t get slowed down in time to avoid A.J. Flick, who stopped between turns one and two.
Brent Marks, the PA Speedweek leader going into the evening, suffered a parts failure on lap one and was credited with a 24th-place finish. His 78-point series lead is now a 10-point deficit, unofficially, to Dietrich.
Wolfe, a four-time PA Speedweek champion, jumped out to a three-second lead shortly after the final restart on lap eight, which ignited a 23-lap run to end the feature. Dietrich moved to second, then faded to fourth midway through the run, all before creeping back into the picture by the end.
“Just an exciting race,” Dietrich said. “Man, we‘re fast. Those guys in front of us, I won‘t say they‘re any faster. Things went their way.”
Larson was relatively quiet the first eight laps, but he knew once he got going, momentum would do the trick. On lap 14, Larson clocked his fastest lap of the race, hustling to chop into Wolfe‘s three-second lead. The very next lap, also hustling to cut into more of Wolfe‘s lead, Larson clocked the backstretch wall.
Eleventh-starting Dewease then closed in, throwing a slide job on third-running Larson that announced his presence with 11 laps to go.
“I was like, ‘Shit, I have to get going, put some good laps together,‘” said Larson, who upped the ante.
Larson made his way to second, past Jeff Halligan, with nine to go and tracked down Wolfe. With four laps to go, Wolfe got into the wall in turns one and two, allowing Larson to motor by and lead lap 28. But Larson smacked the wall the proceeding corner, and Wolfe slipped by once more, all while Dewease and Dietrich joined a four-car battle for the win.
Larson, fending off Dewease and Dietrich, regathered himself in the following corner to time the race-winning move with two laps to go.
“It was [going to come down to] whoever missed a corner,” Dewease said.
“That was a helluva good race,” Dewease added. “I wasn‘t happy with our race car, but I enjoyed that race. That‘s what it‘s all about. Good, clean, hard, racing [between] me, Kyle [Larson], and Danny [Dietrich]. Poor Lucas [Wolfe]. He probably didn‘t know what hit him.”
Kyle Larson, Lance Dewease, Danny Dietrich, Lucas Wolfe, Rico Abreu, Jeff Halligan, Mike Wagner, Freddie Rahmer, Paul McMahan, Logan Wagner, Justin Peck, Daryn Pittman, Dylan Cisney, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Mike Walter II, Sye Lynch, Ryan Smith, Jared Esh, Gerard McIntrye, Kody Lehman, Pat Cannon, Anthony Macri, A.J. Flick, Brent Marks.