Photo by Bob Hockenbrock
BY DREW PELLMAN
With the 32nd Pennsylvania Speedweek in now in the rear-view mirror — and lots of big races on the horizon for the remember of the summer — let’s take a final look at how things went down.
Night 1 — Williams Grove Speedway
MECHANICSBURG — Anthony Macri got the grueling stretch of racing started right by leading all 30 laps of the first feature of the week. After laying down the fastest lap in time trials, he easily transferred to the main event from his heat race and was fortunate enough to pull the 1 pill out of the bag to start the main event on the pole. As the race went on, Brent Marks was his biggest challenger. The No. 19 was closing on Macri as both drivers worked through lapped traffic, but a late caution gave Macri the open track he was looking for. Marks, nor any other driver, wasn’t catching Macri from there, as the Dillsburg native picked up his second career Pennsylvania Speedweek victory. Following the top two across the finish line were Justin Peck, Lance Dewease, T.J. Stutts, Dylan Norris, Freddie Rahmer, Devon Borden, Lucas Wolfe, and Chase Dietz.
Car Count: 29
Fast Time: Anthony Macri
Heat Winners: T.J. Stutts, Lucas Wolfe, Brent Marks
B-Main Winner: Robbie Kendall
Night 2 — Lincoln Speedway
ABBOTTSTOWN — The annual Kevin Gobrecht Memorial race saw the biggest car count of the week as 47 cars piled into Lincoln Speedway for the second night of Speedweek. And just like the previous night at Williams Grove, this one was the Anthony Macri show. Using the same winning strategy, Macri once again set quick time, transferred through his heat race, and pulled the 1 pill to start the 30-lap feature from the pole. Third-starting Freddie Rahmer was able to hang close for a few laps, but Macri was able to use traffic to his advantage and gain a substantial lead before a caution on the 19th lap. On the ensuing restart, third-running Justin Peck went to work on Rahmer and took second a few laps later. Brent Marks did the same just two circuits after that. None of them, however, had anything for Macri as the No. 39M drove away to a margin of victory of nearly a second and a half. Peck settled for second, Marks took third, Rahmer faded to fourth and Dietz drove forward to fifth. Sixth through 10th went to Troy Wagaman, Jr., Lance Dewease, T.J. Stutts, Lucas Wolfe, and Devon Borden.
Car Count: 47
Fast Time: Anthony Macri
Heat Winners: Troy Wagaman Jr, Jeff Halligan, Chase Dietz, Lucas Wolfe
B-Main Winner: Chad Trout
Night 3 — BAPS Motor Speedway
YORK HAVEN — The parking lots were packed and the pit area was filling up, but Mother Nature had other ideas. 34 sprint cars had signed in when a drizzle finally turned into an expected downpour around 6:15 p.m. With more rain on the way, all hope for the night was washed away. Amazingly enough, BAPS has lost all four of its scheduled 410 sprint car shows to weather so far this season. They’ll try once again this Sunday (July 24th) with the rescheduled running of the Kevin Gobrecht Classic that was lost to rain on May 1st.
Night 4 — Lincoln Speedway
ABBOTTSTOWN — Forty-two drivers signed in for Lincoln’s second show of Speedweek, and 41 of them probably had the same goal: put an end to Anthony Macri’s recent domination. Invader Skylar Gee, who has an All-Star Circuit of Champions win at Lincoln to his credit, set quick time on the night as the first car to hit the speedway. He failed to qualify through his heat race, however, and was forced to transfer through the B-main. Drawing the 1 pill after heat races were completed was a familiar name to the area — Kyle Larson. The 2020 PA Speedweek champion — and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion — made his annual stop in Central PA to take part in four races. Starting alongside him was Lincoln young gun Troy Wagaman, Jr. Larson got the jump from the start and led the first 18 laps, but then saw something he probably didn’t expect — the nose wing of 13th-starting Brent Marks beneath him in turns one and two. Marks made the pass stick a lap later and finished off the remainder of the race unchallenged to score his first victory of the week. Spoiler alert: it certainly wouldn’t be his last! After Marks and Larson came Macri, Wagaman Jr., Justin Peck, Jeff Halligan, Tanner Thorson, Christopher Bell (who also once again took a break from the NASCAR scene along with Alex Bowman to run a portion of Speedweek), Tim Gladfelter and Danny Dietrich.
Car Count: 42
Fast Time: Skylar Gee
Heat Winners: Austin Bishop, Jeff Halligan, Troy Wagaman, Jr., Anthony Macri
B-Main Winner: Alan Krimes
Night 5 — Grandview Speedway
BECHTELSVILLE — As 31 sprint cars rolled into Grandview for their annual “Thunder on the Hill” Speedweek stop, it seemed like fans were starting to see a three-horse race for the championship. Anthony Macri had what seemed to be a commanding lead, but one DNF could bring Brent Marks and Justin Peck right back into striking distance. Grandview, a fast and exciting 1/3-mile racetrack, is always viewed as a bit of a wild card because the 410s are only scheduled there once or twice every year. Its infamous “boiler plate” — otherwise known as the outside retaining wall — has been known to reach out and grab even the best of competitors if they get too close. Macri, once again, started out his night in the best possible way — a third quick time award in four races. This time he drew the No. 2 pill, which lined him up beside invader Rico Abreu who pulled the No. 1. Each driver knew they had to go hard from the start, because third-starting Christopher Bell and fifth-starting Kyle Larson both have had a ton of recent success at Grandview in the past five years. Abreu got the jump from the start, while Macri dropped a few positions in the early going. Disaster struck for Larson in the middle stages on the race. He was running 4th when a left-rear axle snapped, sending the Paul Silva-owned No. 57 into a spin that ended in Larson gently tipping over. He was uninjured. After the green reappeared, fourth-starting Marks tracked down Abreu in traffic and was just about to make a bid for the lead when a multi-car tangle right in front of the leaders brought out the yellow flag. Macri was able to force his way around Marks on the restart, leaving only Abreu between himself and a third win of Speedweek. The inside of the track started to take rubber, however, forcing all the drivers to stay in line for the final few laps. It was another popular victory for Abreu, who has become a favorite of many Pennsylvania fans over the years. Macri and Marks settled for second and third, Danny Dietrich was fourth and Bell rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th went to Tanner Thorson, Peck, Ryan Smith, Lucas Wolfe, and Freddie Rahmer.
Car Count: 31
Fast Time: Anthony Macri
Heat Winners: Rico Abreu, Justin Peck, Tanner Thorson, Kyle Larson
B-Main Winner: Jeff Halligan
Night 6 — Port Royal Speedway
PORT ROYAL — Entering Port Royal Speedway’s first of two Speedweek dates, the weeklong points chase was firmly in Anthony Macri’s control. Not only that, but the 39M had certainly been one of the cars to beat at the Juniata County half-mile for the past 2+ years. So with two of final five races taking place at Port Royal, it stood to reason that Macri was well on the way to his first Speedweek title. This, however, is sprint car racing ¬— where the unexpected happens quite frequently. Logan Wagner, Port Royal’s point leader began the night with quick time in time trials over the 39-car field. After successfully transferring through his heat, the feature redraw didn’t quite go the way Wagner would’ve wanted it. Though he drew the 4, putting his Zemco No. 1 on the outside of the second row to start the main event, the two fastest cars of Speedweek — Macri and Marks — picked the 1 and 2 pills. When the green flag was thrown, it was Marks that got the jump. Wagner also quickly surpassed Macri, and that was the running order under the first caution on lap 7 for a slowing Justin Whittall. Kyle Larson, who started 5th, began his attack from there. The No. 57 was all the way to second when the “gamechanging” moment of Speedweek took place on lap 21. All of a sudden, Macri — who was running 3rd — went up in smoke with an obvious engine failure. Not only was that tough news for the race, but a DNF — combined with what looked to be a Marks win — would drop him out of the Speedweek points lead. Before that could be discussed, Larson’s car lost a right rear tire, giving him his second DNF in as many nights in Pennsylvania. Marks went on to take the victory over a charging Mike Wagner, Logan Wagner, Lance Dewease, Justin Peck, Dylan Cisney, Lucas Wolfe, T.J. Stutts, Rico Abreu, and Freddie Rahmer. Macri entered the night with an 84-point lead, but now suddenly trailed Marks by 20 as the series shifted south of the border.
Car Count: 39
Fast Time: Logan Wagner
Heat Winners: Mike Wagner, Brent Marks, Kyle Larson, Anthony Macri
B-Main Winner: Justin Whittall
Night 7 — Hagerstown Speedway
HAGERSTOWN, MD — The annual Speedweek stop in Maryland certainly didn’t disappoint this time around, despite that it was just a two-car battle for most of the 30-lap main event. Simply put, Kyle Larson and Brent Marks were in a league of their own. The duo lapped into the top 10 before a late-race caution reset the field. At one point, Anthony Macri — who missed the feature redraw due to a poor time trial effort for the first time all week — drove all the way to third, but was still more than half a track behind the two lead cars. Though Larson was the car leading all the laps, it appeared that Marks was the driver with the quicker car and was simply biding his time for the right passing opportunity to present itself. He got it on lap 23, as Larson has the slightest bobble as he attempted to put another car down a lap. Larson’s slider came up just short through turns three and four, forcing him to get off the throttle and giving Marks the chance to pull to the inside and take the race lead down the Hagerstown frontstretch. A two-lap shootout put the result in question momentarily, but nothing changed in the final mile, as Marks crossed the line first to pick up his third victory of the week. Larson settled for second ahead of Macri, Danny Dietrich, fast timer Ryan Smith, Rico Abreu, Devon Borden, Lucas Wolfe, Chase Dietz and Freddie Rahmer.
Car Count: 36
Fast Time: Ryan Smith
Heat Winners: Tanner Thorson, Kyle Larson, Rico Abreu, Devon Borden
B-Main Winner: Ryan Timms
Night 8 — Williams Grove Speedway
MECHANICSBURG — It was back to Williams Grove for the Mitch Smith Memorial to kick off July. Paying $15,000 to the winner, this race each year is known as the “Crown Jewel of Speedweek.” And for the third consecutive race — and fourth in five nights — it was Brent Marks picking up the top prize. When the Myerstown driver pulled the 1 pill out of the bag in the feature redraw, you just got the sense that the Speedweek momentum had officially shifted from Macri to Marks. Macri — who started 7th — made a valiant effort to delay Marks’ fourth straight celebration on the final lap, but it wasn’t to be as his last-ditch slider fell short. After Marks and Macri came another strong from Rico Abreu, Dylan Norris and Danny Dietrich. Sixth through 10th went to Robbie Kendall, Troy Wagaman, Jr., Freddie Rahmer, Ryan Smith and Justin Peck. Marks increased his Speedweek point lead over Macri to 80 points heading back to Port Royal with two races to go.
Car Count: 32
Fast Time: T.J. Stutts
Heat Winners: Dylan Norris, Rico Abreu, Robbie Kendall, Troy Wagaman Jr.
B-Main Winner: Kyle Reinhardt
Night 9 — Port Royal Speedway
PORT ROYAL — When Port Royal’s second feature of the week took the green flag, you got the sense that Brent Marks was going for the knockout punch. Not only had he already won four races this Speedweek, but there were a few potential records on the horizon. No driver had ever won four Speedweek shows in a row, and none had ever won more than five in a single week. Marks started the feature from the fourth position and wasted no time in getting to the front. In fact, by the time the first caution came out on the second lap, the No. 19 was already at the point. With Marks well in command, we’ll fast forward to lap 16 — the moment the Speedweek title was for all intents and purposes wrapped up. Anthony Macri, who had banged the outside guardrail in turn 4 earlier in the race came to a stop with a shredded right rear tire. Once the 39M arrived in the work area, a fuel leak was also discovered. That resulted in the second DNF in two Speedweek races at the Speed Palace for the Macri Motorsports team. A caution with just one lap to go gave Logan Wagner the chance at Marks that he was looking for, but his last-ditch attempt fell just short. Logan and father Mike Wagner settled for following Marks to the finish line — his fifth win of the week to tie Stevie Smith’s 2015 record aboard Fred Rahmer’s No. 51S machine. After that came Rico Abreu, Justin Peck, Danny Dietrich, Lucas Wolfe, Blane Heimbach, Ryan Smith, and Dylan Cisney.
Car Count: 33
Fast Time: Mike Wagner
Heat Winners: Logan Wagner, Rico Abreu, Ryan Smith, Ryan Timms
B-Main Winner: T.J. Stutts
Night 10 — Selinsgrove Speedway
SELINSGROVE — 23 cars signed in for the Speedweek finale honoring the trio of Jan Opperman, Dick Bogar and Ralph Heintzelman. It was the end of a long, hot, grueling week and there was only one thing left to decide. Could Brent Marks set the record of wins in a single week? It looked that way early on, as he passed leader Steve Buckwalter on lap 6 for the top spot. Danny Dietrich though, who won twice in Ohio Speedweek, had other ideas. The familiar No. 48 found the low side of the Snyder County half-mile in turns three and four and began tracking down the leader. With three laps to go, Dietrich made his move. It turned out to be a winning one for the Gettysburg driver, his first of the week. Marks, who certainly wasn’t accustomed to being passed all week, had to settle for second. He did, however, manage to not finish off the podium in any race — an incredible statistic, indeed! Justin Peck was third, Michael Walter II powered through the field for fourth and Rico Abreu completed the top five. Blane Heimbach, Dylan Cisney, Devon Borden, Ryan Timms, and T.J. Stutts rounded out the top 10.
Car Count: 23
Fast Time: Brent Marks
Heat Winners: Brent Marks, Devon Borden, Steve Buckwalter
B-Main Winner: None
Final PA Speedweek Points:
1. Brent Marks — 1,424 — 5 wins
2. Justin Peck — 1,171
3. Anthony Macri — 1,070 — 2 wins
4. Danny Dietrich — 983 — 1 win
5. Lucas Wolfe — 874
6. T.J. Stutts — 864
7. Rico Abreu — 806 — 1 win
8. Freddie Rahmer — 786
9. Ryan Smith — 722
10. Devon Borden — 602