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2024 Port Royal Speedway Preview: Championship Favorites, Big Races & More

2024 Port Royal Speedway Preview: Championship Favorites, Big Races & More

Previewing the championship favorites and biggest races for weekly Sprint Cars and Dirt Late Models at Port Royal Speedway.

Mar 26, 2024 by Kyle McFadden
2024 Port Royal Speedway Preview: Championship Favorites, Big Races & More

With its impressive fairgrounds facility and one of the best half-mile racing products out there, Port Royal Speedway has developed the reputation as one of the premier weekly dirt-tracks in the country.

The Speed Palace, as the Pennsylvania clay oval is affectionately called, attempts to start their regular season for the third time on Saturday after previously scheduled dates of March 9 and March 16 were both canceled due to rain.

To get you ready for the 410 Sprint Car and Super Late Model season opener, now scheduled for March 23, we've put together a season preview that touches on championship favorites, drivers to watch, and important race dates at the Juniata River Valley speedway.

410 Sprint Cars

Biggest races: Keith Kauffman Classic on April 27, Kubota High Limit Racing Bob Weikert Memorial on May 25-26 paying $75,000-to-win, PA Speedweek on July 3, PA Speedweek Greg Hodnett Classic on July 6, Dream Race on Aug. 17, Labor Day Classic on Sept. 2, Kubota High Limit Racing Tuscarora 50 paying $56,000-to-win.

2023 winners: Devon Borden 5, Anthony Macri 2, Dylan Cisney 2, Tyler Courtney 2, Blane Heimbach, Brent Marks, Brian Brown, Jeff Halligan, Kody Lehman, Lance Dewease, Logan Wagner, Lucas Wolfe, Steve Buckwalter, Zeb Wise.

Track champions since 2010: Devon Borden (’23), Logan Wagner (‘22), Logan Wagner (’21), Logan Wagner (’20), Logan Wagner (’19), Logan Wagner (’18), Brock Zearfoss (’17), Doug Esh (’16), Lucas Wolfe (’15), Rick Lafferty (’14), Blane Heimbach (’13), Chad Layton (’12), Mike Wagner (’11), Chad Layton (’10).

Five Championship Favorites

No. 1z Chase Dietz

Emerging as one of Sprint Car racing’s more personable, outgoing drivers, the York, Pa., native has persisted through ride shuffling to land in one of Sprint Car racing’s most iconic seats, the Zemco Racing No. 1z. Dietz is full steam ahead toward the Port Royal title this year, which is intriguing because he’s cut his teeth at Lincoln Speedway (nine of his 14 career wins are at the 3/8-mile). He did finish second to Logan Seavey in his Silver Crown debut, which came at Port Royal, and then led laps at Eldora Speedway’s 4-Crown Nationals before finishing third, so clearly he has half-mile skill.


WATCH: Chase Dietz finishes second in his Silver Crown debut last June at Port Royal.

No. 5c Dylan Cisney

The Mayor isn’t just some corny nickname for the Port Royal native. Cisney, who really is the mayor of his hometown, holds the highest governing position within the borough. Now the 31-year-old after the highest rank at the track he loves the most. His eight career wins at the half-mile are the second-most among active drivers who’ve yet to also win a title at the track. Danny Dietrich, who’s won 10 times but has never been a Port Royal regular, is that driver ahead of Cisney.

No. 45 Jeff Halligan

The 26-year-old has steadily put himself alongside some of the best names to grace Port Royal victory lane these last four years, becoming one of five drivers to win at least one feature a season at the Speed Palace since 2020. Anthony Macri, Brent Marks, Lance Dewease, and Logan Wagner are the other four. Halligan doesn’t have the resources like those aforementioned heavy hitters, but he can certainly go pound-for-pound with the best of them. He’ll try to improve on last year’s fourth-place standing.

No. 5w Lucas Wolfe

The 2008 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year is nearly a decade removed from his lone track title at Port Royal aboard the Zemco No. 1z, a feat that came in 2015. If he races every event on the schedule this year (he competed in 19 of 21 races last year), and build on his first multi-win season since 2019, he and the Hollinger Motorsports with Allebech Racing No. 5W Old Milwaukee team should be right in the title mix. Wolfe’s 13 career Port Royal wins are sixth-most among active drivers.

No. 55 Mike Wagner

He finished second (to his eventual five-time champion son, Logan) in 2020. He finished second again in ’22. And again last year to Devon Borden. The Legend is as consistent as ever at 58 years of age. Entering his 39th season racing Sprint Cars, can he capture his third career title in as many decades? It would add to titles won in 1991 and 2011. Good to note he’s recovered from a back injury late last year that forced him to miss one of the 21 races at Port Royal, too.

Other drivers to watch: Lance Dewease will run a good amount of his races in his new-look No. 12 owned by Brent and Barry Shearer at Port Royal. … Of the track’s 25 races, Anthony Macri has Port Royal scheduled 12 times on his ultra-busy schedule. … Now racing Don Kreitz Jr.’s No. 69K, five-time track champ Logan Wagner is no longer racing weekly, but he’ll still race the bulk of his races at Port Royal. … Reigning track champ Devon Borden isn’t racing weekly this year as he expands his wings by traveling more. … Gerard McIntyre returns aboard the Port Royal-based, Brian Erhrenzeller-owned No. 33 after finishing fifth in the standings last year. … 2013 track champ Blane Heimbach, Justin Whittall, Kody Lehman, Rick Lafferty, Ryan Taylor, Steve Buckwalter, and TJ Stutts are drivers with feature wins at Port Royal since 2019.

Dirt Late Models

Biggest races: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on April 28, Appalachian Mountain Speedweek on May 18, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on Aug. 23-24 paying $50,000-to-win, Butch Renninger Memorial on Aug. 31 paying $7,333-to-win.

2023 winners: Gregg Satterlee 3, Hudson O’Neal 2, Michael Norris 2, Trever Feathers 2, Brandon Overton, Bryan Bernheisel, Dillan Stake, Drake Troutman, Rick Eckert

Track champions since 2010: Rick Eckert (’23), Colton Flinner (’22), Dylan Yoder (’21). Andy Haus (’20), Dylan Yoder (’19), Jeff Rine (’18), Mike Lupfer (’17), Andy Haus (’16), Mike Lupfer (’15), Mike Lupfer (’14), Terry Naugle (’13), Tim Wilson (’12), Scott Haus (’11), Scott Haus (’10)

Five Championship Favorites

No. 86 Austin Berry

The developing 28-year-old driver of Mifflintown, Pa., has built up his family-owned No. 86 team to take a shot at the title this year. Engine woes caused him to miss four of the 14 points races last season resulting in a 10th-place points finish. His lone Super Late Model victory came June 2021.

No. 24 Dylan Yoder

The 2021 track champion finished runner-up three times last year in a season that didn’t yield a victory at the Speed Palace, nor go his way. Engine setbacks, like Austin Berry, limited his season. If Yoder indeed returns to weekly racing at Port Royal, he’ll be a title force. His 18 wins are tied for 14th-most all-time and are third most among active drivers.

No. 4 Gary Stuhler

The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee is entering what’s believed to be year No. 48. A month away from turning 69, he doesn’t want to hang it up quite yet. Last year, his single-car operation couldn’t make all 14 points races. The two years before that, he fell just shy of the title, finishing second to Dylan Yoder in 2021 and Colton Flinner in ’22.


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WATCH: FloRacing's Dustin Jarrett interviews Gary Stuhler back in August 2020.

No. 0 Rick Eckert

Another National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee (and former Rocket Chassis house car driver, since that’s been a topic of convo recently), “Scrub” is likely the one to beat again at Port Royal. Though the reigning champ only won once last year, his title run had been marked by nine podium runs in 14 races.

No. 20 Trever Feathers

With backing and a car built by Shane McDowell of Team Zero Race Cars, the two-time winner at Port Royal last year figures to pick up where he left off. Should he, the former Winchester (Va.) Speedway champ will be up front, as he clicked off four top-twos his final six starts at the half-mile last year.

Other drivers to watch: Gregg Satterlee has the first two Port Royal races on his schedule, so maybe he’ll follow points if he feels like it? The Truth has 13 wins at Port Royal since 2020, the most of any driver. … Jeff Rine, whose 28 wins are 10th all-time at the Speed Palace, traditionally runs for the title but it’s unclear whether he will this year. … Last fall’s World 100 polesitter Mason Zeigler could be racing around his Pennsylvania home more. … Would-be Port Royal regular Drake Troutman is making his Rookie of the Year campaign on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. … Virginia’s Kyle Hardy racked up 20 multidivisional victories at nine tracks last year. … Appalachian Mountain Speedweek champion Tyler Emory has signed on to chase another title with the United Late Model Series, so it doesn’t look like he’ll race for Port Royal points. … Reigning Lernerville Speedway champion Michael Norris won twice at Port Royal last year. … 2021 feature winner Kyle Lee is a name to watch weekly at the half-mile.