PORT ROYAL, Pa. — The Nittany Showdown at Port Royal Speedway kicked off with a bang on Friday night as fans witnessed the closest finish of the season for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
After an exciting 25-lap affair around The Speed Palace, it came down to a mere 0.081 seconds between Kerry Madsen’s Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 14 and Lance Dewease’s Kreitz Racing No. 69k as the checkered flag waved.
The win was especially sweet for Madsen, who returned to the seat of a sprint car for the first time in eight weeks since he went for a gnarly crash at the Knoxville Nationals in August. The Sydney, New South Wales gasser showed no signs of rust as he scored his third WoO win of the season.
“I can’t say enough about this Tony Stewart Racing team,” Madsen said. “I was a little bit rusty to start the night, but they kept tuning on the car and got me more and more comfortable. I was really good early in the Feature and kind of protected more so in the second half. What a fantastic car, though.”
Although Madsen led all 25 laps of Friday’s $10,000-to-win show, it was anything but a flag-to-flag route.
At three different points, Anthony Macri, Logan Schuchart, and Donny Schatz all momentarily held the race lead, but none officially had the top spot at the start/finish line.
Macri offered a brief challenge on the opening lap but slipped backward as Schuhcart came to life. Schuchart was poised to drive the Shark Racing, Drydene Performance Products #1S to the point on lap six when chaos ensued. Trying to avoid a spinning lap car, Schuchart ran out of room between car and wall, thus colliding and knocking the front end out and ending his shot at the win.
More drama followed when championship leader Brad Sweet bent a wheel and went to the work area while running third. He ultimately finished 14th in the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 and now leads Gravel by 112 points with six nights left.
Madsen’s TSR teammate was next up to challenge. Schatz exchanged a handful of sliders aboard the Ford Performance, Carquest No. 15, but never quite had enough to assume full control over Madsen. He fell back to third with five to go and Lance Dewease came to life.
The final restart with six laps left saw Madsen initially pull away, but the PA Posse legend came to life as the flagman showed two to go. He chopped off a huge chunk of Madsen’s lead and was right on his back bumper at the white flag.
Dewease wanted the low line but opted high where Madsen planned on forcing him. The duo raced off tour four as the crowd rose to their feet and witnessed a nail-biting finish with the No. 14 edging ahead by 0.081 seconds, the closest finish in the last 110 races.
Dewease collected milestones like his 75th career top-five and 150th top-10 with the Outlaws on Friday night by finishing second.
“Our biggest problem is those double-file restarts because I would lose four spots and have to pass the same guys like five times,” Dewease said. “Our car was good, though. The tires never really fired back off on that last restart, but we gave it everything we had. He was down where I wanted to be, so you have to go where they’re not and we made it close. Tomorrow is a longer race, we’ll be there.”
Polesitter Anthony Macri momentarily led early on but fell back to as far as fourth before recovering to a third-place finish.
“It would’ve been awesome to get that first career win, but we were the third-best car tonight,” Macri mentioned. “This was more of a normal Port Royal surface with the way the weather was and we need to adapt better to that. We’ll go to work and be better tomorrow.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.