GARRETT BARD WINS AT KEYSTONE RACESAVER CHALLENGE
wo weeks ago his car was junk, destroyed in a wicked crash at this same track, but after nonstop work by a family-and-friends team, Garrett Bard returned his mount to Port Royal Speedway Saturday and won the Ninth Annual Keystone RaceSaver Challenge, the signature event and season finale for the PA Sprint Series.
Overcoming a stout and nearly successful challenge from Ohio’s Justin Clark, Bard drove a still somewhat battered-looking CG Racing Engines/Barnett Self Storage #95 into victory lane and explained.
“When we put this car together, our goal was just to make the race, because we knew that would give us the Port Royal (points) title,” Bard said. “We knew our first laps in this car would be our time trial laps, and I had no idea what to expect, and I went into the first turn, and it didn’t even turn at all, and I was like this is completely different – the set-up that we had, that we put on this, wasn’t very close to our other car, so just to be standing here, after everything, it’s so awesome.”
“I know starting second really helped,” he continued. “My car felt really good. When I got to traffic I had different issues at different times – it seemed they wanted to race me a little harder than I’d thought. I couldn’t get on the brakes very well; it seemed almost like I had to pump them up – they weren’t doing too good.”
“Then we had that caution, and as soon as I let up, I saw Justin, and I knew he was right there. And then I looked at the scoreboard and it said lap 11, and I said, ‘Man, I could have sworn we were a lot farther along than this.’ And then we had a caution two laps later, and (I saw) it was counting down. That helped me feel a lot better, because I realized that I’d only get to traffic on about my last lap.”
Traffic certainly was not Bard’s friend Saturday. After taking the lead from fellow front-row starter Robbie Bartchy and building a healthy margin over first Christian Rumsey and then Clark, Bard began to lose that lead when he hit traffic just past lap 10, and by lap 14 Clark was in a position to challenge, but Jason Roush spun in turn two – just ahead of the leaders – and Bard once again had a clear track on the restart.
As the winner noted in victory lane, another caution two laps later gave him a chance to rebuild his lead, and traffic in the final two laps of the 25-lap event failed to provide Clark enough of an opportunity.
For Clark, the runner-up finish was vindication along with disappointment at not getting the win. Another trip to Pennsylvania earlier in the season had resulted in a second-place that was lost when the #78 failed post-race inspection.
Rumsey ran strong all race and came home third, ahead of Jared Zionkowski and 2019 IMCA/RaceSaver national champ and PASS champ Ken Duke Jr., who swapped the fourth spot back-and-forth in the final laps. Duke was the only frontrunner making successful use of the low groove on the daytime-then-evening “Speed Palace” surface.
Rounding out the top 10 were Devin Adams, Bartchy, Doug Dodson, Greg Dobrosky and 2019 Keystone winner “Nitro Nick” Sweigart.
Adams was the event’s Penns Valley Meat Market Hard Charger, coming from 16th starting spot to sixth.
The win was Bard’s 10th of the season with PASS, and he has multiple wins in both the Laurel Highlands Sprint Series and Allegheny Sprint Tour as well. He is now the 2020 IMCA/RaceSaver national champion, the Pennsylvania state champion, PASS champion and Port Royal champion – all in the driver from Wells Tannery’s first full season racing full-sized sprint cars.
Six heat races were run for the 55-car field, and they were won by Bartchy, Dodson, Rumsey, Domenic Melair; Bard and Jacob Gomola. Incredibly competitive B-mains were won by Sweigart (over 18 other cars) and Kassidy Kreitz (over 17).
In the first B-main, former Keystone winner Jake Waters lost a qualifying spot to engine trouble with two laps remaining, and the flames from his motor caused concern, because Waters was badly burned in an incident several years ago. Fortunately, he was not injured.
In the second B-main, veteran Ryan Lynn, fresh from being inducted into the new PA RaceSaver Hall of Fame, grabbed a qualifying spot at the checkered flag from hard-luck rookie Branstin Shue.
The most serious incident in the feature came on the initial start when Larry McVay got into the first-turn wall and then rolled his #83. He was not injured, either.
A long list of sponsors came on board for this year’s Keystone, providing awards for hard charger, hard luck and longest distanced traveled, plus most of the 25 feature laps had a sponsor – that money went into increasing the overall purse.
In a season shortened by COVID-19 restrictions, PASS still managed to run 27 features, with 14 drivers taking feature wins. Besides Bard, multiple winners were Sweigart and Dodson, with three wins each.
PASS will held an awards banquet in January. Plans already are underway for the 2021 schedule, which likely will begin in large March or April.
For the latest series news, visit www.pasprintseries.com or the PA Sprint Series Facebook page.
Results from Keystone RaceSaver Challenge at Port Royal Speedway, October 24
HEAT 1 – 1. 29B-Robbie Bartchy; 2. 23-Nathan Gramley; 3. 44-Dave Brown; 4. 10-Jake Waters; 5. 19-Tyler Cochran; 6. 21-Drew Boyer; 7. 107-Colton Hoover; 8. 5B-Will Brunson; 9. 92B-Donnie Wise. DNS – 27J-Luke Shostkewicz.
HEAT 2 – 1. 20-Doug Dodson; 2. 78J-Justin Clark; 3. 3D-Dave Grube; 4. 36-Jaremi Hanson; 5. 71-Josh Spicer; 6. 1H-Rowdy Heffner; 7. 16-Jim Morris; 8. 34C-D.J. Cassler; 9. 25K-Matt Kline (DNF).
HEAT 3 – 1. 1R-Christian Rumsey; 2. 41Z-Jared Zionkowski; 3. 11M-Mikell McGee; 4. 8-Nick Sweigart; 5. J9-Jareld Harris; 6. 78C-Dakota Schweikart; 7. 19-Kruz Kepner; 8. 78-Dale Schweikart; 9. 44V-Daren Bolac.
HEAT 4 – 1. 55-Domenic Melair; 2. 67-Ken Duke Jr.; 3. 99A-Devin Adams; 4. 03-Branstin Shue; 5. 2-Erin Statler; 6. 00-Jason Roush; 7. 53W-Jimmy White; 8. 23M-Tom Wise; 9. 56Y-Drew Young.
HEAT 5. 1. 95-Garrett Bard; 2. 9S-Rick Stief; 3. 5-John Walp; 4. 16-Ian Detweiler; 5. 25-Dustin Young; 6. 77J-Jeff Geiges; 7. 88-Fred Arnold; 8. 2H-Cody Hauck; 9. 72-Dave Guss.
HEAT 6 – 1. 4J-Jacob Gomola; 2. 88D-Greg Dobrosky; 3. 83-Larry McVay; 4. 69K-Kassidy Kreitz; 5. R6-Reed Thompson; 6. 26-Ryan Lynn; 7. 46-Mike Alleman; 8. 34-Austin Reed; 9. 83K-Kristina Pratt.
B-MAIN 1 – 1. 8-Nick Sweigart; 2. 36-Jaremi Hanson; 3. 19-Kruz Kepner; 4. 71-Josh Spicer; 5. 78-Dale Schweikart; 6. 107-Colton Hoover; 7. J9-Jareld Harris; 8. 5B-Will Brunson; 9. 19-Tyler Cochran; 10. 21-Drew Boyer; 11. 1H-Rowdy Heffner; 12. 16-Jim Morris; 14-25K-Matt Kline; 15. 92B-Donny Wise; 16. 44V-Daren Bolac; 17. 27J-Luke Schostkewitz; 18. 78C-Dakota Schweikart; 19. 10-Jake Waters (DNF).
B-MAIN 2 – 1. 69K-Kassidy Kreitz; 2. 00-Jason Roush; 3. 18-Ian Detweiler; 4. 26-Ryan Lynn; 5. 03-Branstin Shue; 6. 77J-Jeff Geiges; 7. 25-Dustin Young; 8. 46-Mike Alleman; 9. 2H-Cody Hauck; 10. 23M-Tom Wise; 11. 2-Erin Statler; 12. 53W-Jimmy White; 13. 88-Fred Arnold; 14. 83K-Kristina Pratt; 15. 34-Austin Reed; 16. 72-Dave Guss; 17. 56Y-Drew Young; 18. R6-Reed Thompson (DNF).
FEATURE – 1. 95-Garrett Bard; 2. 78J-Justin Clark; 3. 1R-Christian Rumsey; 4. 41Z-Jared Zionkowski; 5. 67-Ken Duke Jr.; 6. 99A-Devin Adams; 7. 29B-Robbie Bartchy; 8. 20-Doug Dodson; 9. 88D-Greg Dobrosky; 10. 8-Nick Sweigart; 11. 44-Dave Brown; 12. 55-Domenic Melair; 13. 69K-Kassidy Kreitz; 14. 4J-Jacob Gomola; 15. 3D-Dave Grube; 16. 5-John Walp; 17. 23-Nathan Gramley; 18. 36-Jaremi Hanson; 19. 71-Josh Spicer; 20. 19-Kruz Kepner; 21. 9S-Rick Stief; 22. 11M-Mikell McGee; 23. 18-Ian Detweiler; 24. 78-Dale Schweikart; 25. 26-Ryan Lynn (DNF); 26. 00-Jason Roush (DNF); 27. 83-Larry McVay (DNF).