2024 Keith Kauffman Classic at Port Royal Speedway

Recapping A Chaotic Night At Port Royal Speedway

Recapping A Chaotic Night At Port Royal Speedway

The first big Sprint Car race of 2024 at Port Royal Speedway had its share of bumps, bruises and hurt feelings on Saturday.

Apr 28, 2024 by Kyle McFadden

Port Royal Speedway’s first lucrative Sprint Car event of the year — Saturday’s $15,000-to-win Keith Kauffman Classic — followed a similar, disoriented script to the last big 410 race at the Speed Palace.

Like last October’s held-over Tuscarora 50, the Speed Palace’s Crown Jewel event that Brian Brown rose above the chaos to win, the most lucrative Sprint Car race from the weekend won by Anthony Macri had its fair share of unexpected twists and turns — starting with the opening-corner seven-car melee and ending, more or less, with race-long leader Chase Dietz falling out of the running.

Hall of Fame driver Lance Dewease had been among those collected in the wreck that, which all emerged OK, wiped out a quarter of the field in a flash.

“It was ugly going into one,” Dewease, 57, said. “I thought I was going to miss (Jeff Halligan) coming across the track really hard. And I thought I was missing him as he went across, then next thing I know, I’m wrecking. … At that stage, when you’re in the midpack like that, there’s nowhere for anybody to go.”

RELATED: Lance Dewease Remains Determined As Ever Entering Next Chapter

There was no way the Fayetteville, Pa., legend plus A.J. Flick, Austin Bishop, Callum Williamson, Gerard McIntyre, Steve Buckwalter and Jeff Halligan — the first proverbial domino to fall and trigger the wreck — could evade disaster on a track that pushed record speeds (Macri’s 15.089 quick-time in the trials vs. Brown’s track record 14.868 in 2018).

Halligan appeared to have been hit from behind entering the opening corner as his car veered butt-first toward the outside wall and swarm of cars shooting up the turn-one banking.


WATCH: Lance Dewease gives his point of view of Saturday's hard crash at Port Royal Speedway.

"It’s been a while” since Dewease endured a hit of that severity and because of that, he’ll sit out Sunday’s race at BAPS Motor Speedway he planned to partake in aboard Sean Dyson’s No. 20 machine that’s featured Macri and Justin Peck through the years. He should need no more than a few days to recover.

“We don’t tend to do that a whole lot,” said Dewease who this year has partnered with Brent and Barry Shearer to carry on his big-race-hunting efforts. “When we do it, we do it pretty good at times. It kind of stems back from running fourth in the heat and putting ourselves way back (to start 14th) where that stuff can happen. Realistically, it started up front, so you still could’ve been in it.”

RELATED: Why Lance Dewease Is Joining Forces With The Shearer Family

Not even Macri, the night’s winner, escaped without blemish. Sailing into turns one and two on lap 13 while hunting down leader Chase Dietz, the Dillsburg, Pa., driver miscalculated Aaron Bollinger’s corner entry. Contact ensued that sent Bollinger spinning and into third-running Logan Wagner.

Bollinger wrote to Facebook later Saturday night saying “the 39M drove through the side of us.” Macri responded with an apology.

“I’ve said it about 10 times: I feel terrible,” Macri said. “They obviously don’t think I feel that way. It’s just, he was running the top five laps in a row and I went to go slide him. He cut down to the middle and I had a head of steam. He was cutting down the racetrack in the middle. I got out of the gas and on the breaks as hard as I could. We made contact. And he crashed.

RELATED: Anthony Macri Returns To Winning Form With No. 39M Family Team

“I feel terrible. I don’t like busting anybody else’s equipment up, let alone my own. I know everyone is going to have their own opinion. I know it wasn’t intentional and I know I genuinely feel bad. I don’t know if there’s much more I can say about that.”

For Macri, his nation-leading sixth win of the year also didn’t come without drawing the ire of Wagner, the five-time track champion who, despite needing “a restart to get by those guys or lapped traffic,” had his best shot to deliver his first victory for the Kreitz Racing No. 69K team.

“Yeah, it’s really early in the race. I really have no comment on Macri’s move,” Wagner said. “I’d still be in the race if he drove a little more under control. It’s par for the course. With him, that’s the way it goes, the way it kicks back. But hey, hats off to this crew.

“We positioned ourselves. We started up front. We were running up front. It’s just Macri got into the lapped car and I had nowhere to go. It’s racing. Hats off to (crew chief) Davey (Brown), (owner) Donald (Kreitz) and the whole crew, man. They worked their butt off. We’re finally in position to strike. Yeah, we’ll move onto another race.”

RELATED: Logan Wagner To Drive Kreitz Racing No. 69K At Port Royal's Big Events

Wagner didn’t deny that the “super quick” conditions on Saturday added a wrinkle to a race in which closing rates came quicker than normal. But “super quick” isn’t the same as wildly quick, Wagner then stated.

“I mean, everyone has to compete in those conditions,” Wagner said. “Yeah, it’s just the way it is. Everything happens so quick in Sprint Car racing. That’s why we’re here. But it’s not overly quick. It’s just a miscalculation on his part. Ultimately led to my demise.”

All the aforementioned ruckus aside, Dietz, whose left-rear tire gave away on him leading through 16 laps, was in the minority of not needing to vent frustrations or explain himself for a wrongdoing.

“Everything was going pretty good all night long until that,” Dietz said. “I think we were in good shape up until that point. I felt like we were good enough that I don’t think anyone was going to get us until we messed up, or something like that happens. Just part of racing.”

Steadily expanding his racing pursuits through the years with his own 410 Sprint Car and Silver Crown team, Dietz has landed in one of Central Pennsylvania’s most coveted rides, the Zemco Racing No. 1Z this year to chase the Port Royal track title and its Crown Jewels.

Saturday’s demise was out of his control, and therefore he feels about good he’ll have more chances at big wins moving forward.

“Yeah, nothing felt funny there,” Dietz said. “I maybe thought coming through the middle of one and two there the left-rear slipped a bit as if it was getting low. By the time I thought about it, then it blew. It is what it is. These guys gave me a great car and we were able to get ourselves in position. That’s all we got to do.

“Like I said, if we keep putting ourselves in position, we’ll be fine. Tonight was the first night that we could show we could get ourselves in position there. We have the speed. We just have to keep dialing in at that time.”

Fortunately Saturday’s worst never exceeded hurt feelings, damaged race cars, and some bruises that hopefully will rectify itself in the days to come.

"Guarantee you, by the time I get home tonight, I’m not going to be able to move,” Dewease said. “My neck is already getting to where I can hardly move it right now. But that’s part of this game we all play.”