Ken Duke Wins At Port Royal
Ken Duke Wins At Port Royal
“It seems like forever since we won a race.”
For 2019 PA Sprint Series, Port Royal Speedway, Pennsylvania and IMCA/RaceSaver National Champion Ken Duke Jr. of Selinsgrove, that was an understandable thought. After scoring eight victories in that championship season, he only visited victory lane once in 2020, on July 11 at his hometown Selinsgrove Speedway.
There were plenty of good finishes – 12 top fives – but then only the one last year and none so far in 2021.
It made Saturday night’s Port Royal win special for the veteran racer in the Fairfield Auto Group/Apache Tree Service/Bud Godek Auto Body #67, the 17th victory of his PASS career.
“We got a good pill draw tonight (starting second in the feature),” Duke said in victory lane. “The track was to our liking – they did a great job with the surface here. We got lucky, we started on the front row, that makes things so much easier.”
Duke slipped past fellow front-row starter Rowdy Heffner in the second turn of the first lap and was untouchable in clean air, but some struggling in lapped traffic opened the door for an intense battle with Kassidy Kreitz of Sinking Spring, who actually took the lead on lap 13, only to have her pass erased when the race was stopped after Dom Melair’s car briefly erupted in flames due to mechanical ills. Melair was able to exit his car uninjured, but the restart put Duke back in front, and he was never again challenged; the final margin of victory was 2.76 seconds.
“That lapped traffic back in the pack was pretty dicey,” he said. “I was a little surprised – I shouldn’t have been – about how much I was slowing down getting through lapped traffic.
“When Kassidy stuck her nose in there, she had me dead to rights, and she pulled off the pass, and we were just really lucky the red flag came out, we got back out in front in clean air, and I felt pretty good about it at that point.”
Kreitz pulled off an amazing charge early in the race on the way to her career-best finish and nearly her first feature win. She moved from her 14th starting position to fourth on the first lap and was in second just a couple of laps later. Then she caught Duke in traffic, only to be victimized by the red flag.
Dave Grube II of York Springs, who hung in the top five throughout the race, finished third, with 2020 IMCA/RaceSaver and PASS Champion Garrett Bard of Wells Tannery, who also found his way through the pack from starting 12th, coming home fourth. Austin Reed of Etters completed the top five.
The rest of the top ten included Doug Dodson, Rowdy Heffner, Mikell McGee, Nick Sweigart and Jeffrey Weaver.
The tenth-place finisher also was the evening’s Penns Valley Meat Market Hard Charger, having come from the back row, 25th starting position. He picked up $100. Penns Valley Meat Market also sponsors PASS throughout the season at Port Royal.
Kreitz’s 12-position improvement was just one of several other strong performances throughout the PASS field.
Forty-five RaceSaver sprints were on hand for the “Open Wheel Madness” program, which also featured 410 and URC 360 sprints and had a total of 103 sprint cars on hand.
The crowded field made qualifying events fiercely competitive. Dodson, Sweigart, Justin Mills and Reed won the heat races, with Mike Alleman besting an incredible 22-car field for the B-Main. Devin Adams, who missed the feature by one B-Main position received a racing tire from Miller’s Racing Products as a consolation.
PASS returns to the Port Royal “Speed Palace” again next Saturday for a program also including 410 sprints and late models. The series then makes its second 2020 appearance at Selinsgrove Speedway on May 8.
For the latest schedule and other information, visit www.pasprintseries.com or the PA Sprint Series Facebook page.
Results from Port Royal Speedway, April 24
HEAT 1 – 1. 20-Doug Dodson; 2. 21-Andrew Boyer; 3. 3D-Dave Grube II; 4. 11M-Mikell McGee; 5. 97-Kenny Heffner; 6. 46-Mike Alleman; 7. 34C-D.J. Cassler; 8. 121-Steve Glover; 9. 19-Chris Kreider; 10. 03-Branstin Shue; 11. 11X-Bob Garvey; 12. 0Z-Zach Rhodes.
HEAT 2 – 1. 8-Nick Sweigart; 2. 95-Garrett Bard; 3. 8-Will Brunson; 4. 69K-Kassidy Kreitz; 5. 23M-Tom Wise; 6. 11W-Danny Wise; 7. 87-Austin Graby; 8. 18A-Alex Schmiedel; 9. 21M-Cassandra Minium. DNS – 44-Christian Rumsey; 10-Jake Waters.
HEAT 3 — 1. Justin Mills; 2. 1-Rowdy Heffner; 3. X-Josh Bricker; 4. 67-Ken Duke Jr.; 5. Drew Young; 6. 53W-Jimmy White; 7. 52-Jeffrey Weaver; 8. 51-Dave Graber; 9. 107-Colton Hoover; 10. 2-Erin Statler; 11. 1M-Paul Moyer.
HEAT 4 — 1. 34-Austin Reed; 2. 55-Dom Melair; 3. 54-Mike Melair; 4. 18-Ian Detweiler; 5. 12-Roger Irvine; 6. 25-Dustin Young; 7. 99-Devin Adams; 8. 88-Fred Arnold; 9. 31-Roger Weaver; 10. 911-Mike Wenrick; 11. 301-Chad Connor (DNF).
B-MAIN – 1. 46-Mike Alleman; 2. 11W-Danny Wise; 3. 53W-Jimmy White; 4. 25-Dustin Young; 5. 52-Jeffrey Weaver; 6. 87-Austin Graby; 7. 99-Devin Adams; 8. 121-Steve Glover; 9. 107-Colton Hoover; 10. 2-Erin Statler; 11. 34C-D.J. Cassler; 12. 31-Roger Weaver; 13. 0Z-Zach Rhodes; 14. 11X-Bob Garvey; 15. 03-Branstin Shue; 16. 1M-Paul Moyer; 17. 18A-Alex Schmiedel; 18. 51-Dave Graber; 19. 911-Mike Wenrick; 20. 19-Chris Kreider (DNF); 21. 88-Fred Arnold; 22. 21M-Cassandra Minium; DNS – 44-Christian Rumsey; 301-Chad Connor; 10-Jake Waters.
FEATURE – 1. 67-Ken Duke Jr.; 2. 69K-Kassidy Kreitz; 3. 3D-Dave Grube II; 4. 95-Garrett Bard; 5. 34-Austin Reed; 6. 20-Doug Dodson; 7. 1-Rowdy Heffner; 8. 11M-Mikell McGee; 9. 8-Nick Sweigart; 10. 52-Jeff Weaver; 11. 21-Andrew Boyer; 12. M1-Justin Mills; 13. 12-Roger Irvine; 14. 53W-Jimmy White; 15. 87-Austin Graby; 16. 23M-Tom Wise; 17. 54-Mike Melair; 18. X-Josh Bricker; 19. 97-Kenny Heffner; 20. 46-Mike Alleman; 21. 7-Drew Young; 22. 25-Dustin Young; 23. 11W-Danny Wise; 24. 8-Will Brunson (DNF); 25. 55-Dom Melair (DNF); 26. 18-Ian Detweiler (DNF). DNQ – 99-Devin Adams; 121-Steve Glover; 107-Colton Hoover; 2-Erin Statler; 34C-D.J. Cassler; 31-Roger Weaver; 0Z-Josh Rhodes; 11X-Bob Garvey; 03-Branstin Shue; 1M-Paul Moyer; 18A-Alex Schmiedel; 51-Dave Graber; 911-Mike Wenrick; 19-Chris Kreider; 88-Fred Arnold; 21M-Cassandra Minium; 44-Christian Rumsey; 301-Chad Connor; 10-Jake Waters.
Article & Photo credit: Frank Buhrman