Port Royal – Mike Wagner II of Harrisonville kicked off the 305 sprint Blue Collar Classic weekend at Port Royal Speedway with a win on Friday night
It was Wagner’s first Port Royal win of the season and the fifth overall of his career at the track.
He nearly gave the win away when he lost the lead to Jeff Miller Jr. on the ninth tour of the 20-lap main.
“I was just flirting with the inside wall a little bit and it gave me a bite,” said Wagner referring to contact with the wall when he lost the lead mid-race.
“The track was fast. I made a small mistake and it cost me the lead for a little bit.”
Shortly after track point leader Miller took the lead he took a dramatic ride up and over the right rear tire of Mifflintown’s Jake Waters, somehow landing on four wheels on the backchute but ending Waters’ night.
“There was a scuffle in front of me and Jeff Miller got into it, but he kept going. He had a really fast car as he always does. He probably deserved to win. I got pretty lucky,” Wagner said in victory lane.
“I started up front and the car was fast. This is my win at Port this year, so I’m happy about that.”
Wagner started on the pole and drove into the lead to start the 20-lap main event for the RaceSaver 305 sprints.
Zach Newlin of Millerstown drove by Brad Franks of Collegeville and into second at the start
Jeff Miller Jr. also drove by Franks and into third as Newlin looked under Wagner in turn four for the lead, but couldn’t make the pass. Miller would take second from Newlin shortly thereafter.
Miller drove by Wagner as they raced down the backchute to take the lead on lap eight after Wagner clipped the inside fence off turn two, dramatically slowing his momentum.
Waters slowed on the backstretch the next lap and Miller jumped his tire and got airborne but somehow came down and didn’t stop, allowing him to maintain the lead.
Miller’s luck came to an end on the restart however as he slowed to a stop in turn four with a blown tire.
“I almost got into him when his car broke,” said Wagner.
“It was really close. I’m glad it all worked out for me tonight.”
Wagner controlled the final 11 laps to score the win over Franks, Matt Heimbach, Paul Snyder and Tyler Bear. Bill Jones Jr., Jordan Thomas, Scott Frack, Scott Ellerman and Roger Irvine completed the top 10.
The 305 sprint heats for the 34 cars were won by Mike Esposito, Wagner II, Shawn Kirkpatrick and Miller Jr. The consolation was won by Nathan Gramley.
Grant Adams of Grantville grabbed the early race lead in the 20-lap main event for the limited late models before the caution flew with one lap completed. Rick Singleton drove by Todd Snook and into second on the restart.
Division kingpin Gene Knaub was making his way through the field from the seventh starting spot and he moved to fourth on the restart and a pass of Snook got him into third.
Singleton took a shot under the leader in turn two in lapped traffic but Adams held on. The caution flew on lap eight and then another yellow for a frontstretch crash on the restart again bunched the field.
Singleton went after Adams hard on the restart as the pair nearly made contact off of turn two. They were close again down the backstretch and into the third turn seconds later when they made contact again with Singleton slipping high off turn four allowing Knaub to take over second.
Singleton then stopped on the backstretch with 10 laps completed.
Adams, of Grantville, would hold off the challenges of Knaub over the final eight laps to score the $1,000 win.
Knaub settled for second ahead of Snook, J.R. Rodriguez and Brad Kling. Dave Leidy, Nathan Lasalle, Chad Latshaw, Ken Yoder and Dave Stamm completed the top 10.
“That was exciting,” said Adams. “We didn’t get to race much this year so to end the season with a win is good for us. It was a good race. I’m glad I came out on top.”
The limited late model heats for the 25 cars went to Knaub, Rodriguez and Adams.
The Blue Collar Classic concludes at Port Royal Saturday with a 25-lap, $1,000-to win feature for the 305 sprints, along with the final tune-up for the 410-sprints prior to the World of Outlaws sprint cars coming up Saturday. Oct. 25.
Miller Jr. and Bear are tied for the point lead heading into Saturday’s 305 sprint Port Royal finale.
305 sprints, 20 laps,: 1. Mike Wagner, II., 2. Brad Franks, 3. Matt Heimbach, 4. Paul Snyder, 5. Tyler Bear, 6. Bill Jones Jr., 7. Jordan Thomas, 8. Scott Frack, 9. Scott Ellerman, 10. Roger Irvine, 11. Eric Parker, 12. Shawn Kirkpatrick, 13. Justin Hoffman, 14. Ed Newhauser, 15. Ryan Lynn, 16. Mike Esposito, 17. Jeff Miller Jr., 18. Erin Statler, 19. Tyler Reaser, 20. Nathan Gramley, 21. Lance Newlin, 22. Jake Waters, 23. Jeff Geiges, 24. Zach Newlin
DNQ: John Haegele, Terry Schaeffer, James Pryde, Mike Alleman, Ryan Stillwaggon, John Bordlemay, Reed Thompson, Dave Guss, Jr., Anthony Fiore, Ken Duke