BY DREW PELLMAN
PORT ROYAL — Simply put, if a sprint car race can impress Keith Kauffman, well, you’ve certainly accomplished quite a bit. Port Royal’s all-time leading feature winner — and everyone else in attendance for that matter — witnessed an early candidate for race of the year Saturday night at the Juniata County half mile in the 7th Annual Keith Kauffman Classic.
The feature showcased a duel between what has been two of the fastest cars at Port Royal the last couple seasons — Anthony Macri and Logan Wagner. Wagner earned the pole position by winning the All-Star Circuit of Champions dash, a quick four-lap race that set the top 10 starting spots for the 30-lap feature. Those four laps were very important for Macri, who advanced from 10th to sixth, allowing him to start the feature on the outside of the third row instead of back in the fifth row.
Wagner’s Zemco No. 1 got the jump on Parker Price-Miller at the start, and seemingly set sail with no challengers for the first few laps of the race. Macri got off to a quick start as well, moving from sixth to second by lap 11. From there, it was all about running down Port Royal’s four-time defending track champion. As he started to cut into the lead, it was at that point where everyone began thinking back to the race a few weeks ago that featured contact between the two drivers in the waning laps of a feature. Macri went on to win, leaving Wagner visibly upset. Macri was masterful in traffic, maneuvering his No. 39M to within striking distance by lap 18. Only one circuit later and Wagner all of a sudden found himself looking directly ahead at Macri’s tail tank.
Race over, right? Not in the least!
Wagner was forced to take a few laps to gather himself, but remained close enough to mount a counterattack when the opportunity presented itself a few laps later. The Harrisonville driver made his first move on lap 24, momentarily regaining the lead before Macri was able to use his momentum to pull a crossover move to return to the point. The same situation occurred again on the next lap, but this time it looked as if Wagner might have just enough to keep Macri behind him. Just then, the first yellow flag of the race was displayed for T.J. Stutts as his No. 11 rolled to a stop on the frontstretch.
If you’re new to sprint car racing, “clean air” is of the utmost important in situations like this. Since Macri was the leader at the completion of the last scored lap, he retained the lead for the restart. It was assumed — if not flat-out expected — that he could take advantage of the aforementioned clear air in front of him and drive away in the final five laps to take the victory. Wagner, however, proved that he wasn’t about to let that happen without a fight. As the duo came to the start/finish line with just two laps remaining, Wagner once again dove to the inside to take the lead with a slider. It was answered with another crossover from Macri, leaving the Dillsburg native with the advantage as the white flag was unfurled. Entering turn one for the final time, Wagner was setting up one last attempt at another slidejob. Macri, however, decided he was going to take the low line away to guard against that move, forcing Wagner to get on the brakes or risk crashing both cars.
Macri came around to the checkers to claim his third Port Royal victory of the season. Wagner finished second, and had nothing but praise for both Macri’s efforts and the race they had just put on for the fans. Lance Dewease charged from 10th to finish 3rd, Ryan Smith went 9th to 4th, and Mike Wagner rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th went to Lucas Wolfe, 21st-starting Danny Dietrich, Price-Miller, Jeff Halligan and Blane Heimbach.
Heats for the 42 sprint cars that were pitside went to Smith, Cap Henry, Price-Miller, Logan Wagner and Justin Whittall. Dietrich won the B-main, and was also hard charger in the feature. Mike Wagner was the quickest time trialer on the night with a lap of 15.416 seconds.
Briggs Danner won the USAC East Coast 360 sprint car feature over Steven Drevicki, Alex Bright, Carmen Perigo and Mark Smith.
Port Royal is back in action tomorrow (April 30th). The 410 sprints return, along with the super late models and 305 sprints for a 6 p.m. start.
BY DREW PELLMAN