PORT ROYAL, Pa. – With the All Star Circuit of Champions coming to Pennsylvania in a week and no wins on the year, Anthony Macri felt mounting pressure to back up his breakthrough 2020 season.
On Saturday evening at Port Royal Speedway, the very place he exploded for seven victories last year, Macri delivered.
Macri drove to a 7.433-second victory in the 25-lap, $4,000-to-win main event at the Port Royal half-mile and looked every bit like his imposing self from a year ago. He topped three-time reigning track champion Logan Wagner, who charged from 18th to second.
“I feel like I kind of had a message to send,” Macri said. “I didn’t want people to think we weren’t the same as last year. I knew starting sixth wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. … I knew I had to get a good jump on the start. Luckily we were able to do that. I drove hard the whole race.”
The 21-year-old started sixth but marched to the front as soon as the green flag unfurled. A banzai move in the first corner of the race sprung Macri to fourth by the exit of turn two.
By lap five, he had moved around A.J. Flick for third, just over a second behind second-running Blane Heimbach and another second to leader Gerard McIntyre.
Those deficits were wiped clean in a matter of five laps, as Macri hammered around the considerable cushion that built on both ends of the track. Thanks to recent precipitation and overcast conditions, the track had some extra juice in it.
Macri took advantage, shooting around Heimbach for second and needing just one slide job to overtake McIntyre in turn three on lap 10. From there, Macri swelled his lead as each lap clicked away.
Two laps later, the advantage grew to two seconds. By lap 15, it became four seconds. By lap 20, it ballooned to six seconds.
“[The car] was about as perfect as it gets,” Macri said. “Everything was kind of flowing today. I feel like we regained back what we had last year.”
It’s not like Macri has been far off. He’s knocked on the door recently. In four races at Port Royal prior to Saturday, Macri had a pair of podium runs and a sixth-place finish. It’s just the daytime scenarios that haven’t played into his favor.
Saturday marked the fifth straight day race to start the year at Port Royal. Like last week, track officials moved up the start time on Saturday to beat either expected cold temperatures or potential precipitation.
Recent rainfall and overcast skies simulated conditions of those at night, which only helped Macri considering the baseline he and his crew established last year.
Macri topped Logan Wagner, who charged from 18th to second in non-stop action.
“I felt like if we had a yellow there, we could’ve won,” Wagner said. “But if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a Christmas it would be.”
Gerard McIntyre finished third after leading the opening nine laps. Danny Dietrich drove from 14th to finish fourth. Jeff Halligan placed fifth.
Dylan Cisney, Heimbach, Flick, Jason Shultz, and Kerry Madsen rounded out the top 10.
All Star Circuit of Champions regulars Brent Marks and Lucas Wolfe finished 14th and 20th, respectively.