Port Royal, PA…….Damion Gardner got a chance to race in front of his sponsor Pat Kehoe on Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway, and the DG Racing – Pace Lighting #71 Eagle/Shaver finished the night sitting in victory lane to end the “Rotondo Weirich Eastern Storm.”
Darren Hagen got the jump on the field and rim-rode at the front of the field, distancing himself from the rest of the top-five over the first half of the race. Behind him, a great battle ensued between Gardner and Tracy Hines, as Dave Darland moved up from eighth to pass Jon Stanbrough for fourth.
After the halfway point, the challengers began to move in on Hagen, with Gardner applying a bit of pressure on the Hoffman Auto Racing #69. After completing lap 24, Hagen bicycled on the turn-three cushion, hitting the guardrail and stopping right in front of Gardner, who made contact with Hagen and kept going. Darland also hit Gardner, but the top-two continued on.
On the restart, Darland looked low on Gardner to no avail. Just a couple laps later, with a big run off turn-four on Gardner, Darland rapped the fence and dropped several positions.
From there, Hines could only whittle away at Gardner’s lead with no threat for the win as the Concord, California driver picked up his second AMSOIL National Sprint Car win of the season.
“I saw Hagen get down in there and get twisted up and get in the fence. It was a tough cushion right up by the fence. I don’t know if he saw me or not, but I know he was goin’ hard. I slid it in there and thought for sure I was gonna get him right in the side. I stayed in the gas and clipped the right-front wheel, and I actually was parked. I saw Darland come barreling in and he actually hit us and got us back going. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. We appreciate everybody here, and it’s great to win for Pat,” Gardner said.
Tracy Hines put a slide-job on Gardner midway through the race for second, but Gardner crossed him and over and held the spot. In the end, it was the difference, and Hines finished in the runner-up spot aboard the MP Environmental Services – Support Esophagus Cancer Research #4 DRC/Shaver.
“Hopefully the fans got to see a good race. I slid Damion once and couldn’t clear him. Then, we lost a spot to Darland and got it back late. I just appreciate this whole group and our sponsors. We have our stuff running good again at the end of this week, and pretty happy going on,” Hines said.
Stanbrough started from the pole but raced within the lead pack for all thirty laps, eventually rounding out the podium in the Roberts/Tate Racing – Leer Racing #21x DRC/Speedway.
“We want to win races, but this was another good race for us. We kinda got lucky there and got that yellow so I could adjust some things. I think we were as good as those guys at the end, but with the track being way up there on the fence, I did have enough to try anything. I just really appreciate Port Royal Speedway, and it was great being here,” Stanbrough said.
Robert Ballou took yet another Schroeder Torsion Bars “Hard Charger Award” by climbing from 14th to finish fourth in the MPHG Promotions – Behavior Consultants #81 Maxim/Ott, while Darland rounded out the top-five in the Jeff’s Jam-It-In Storage – AMSOIL #11 Maxim/Claxton.
Bryan Clauson started the evening by establishing the Track Record at 19.080 seconds before finishing sixth, which locked up the “Rotondo Weirich Eastern Storm” championship for his Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian #7 team.
AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: June 9, 2012 – Port Royal, PA – Port Royal Speedway
QUALIFYING: 1. Bryan Clauson, 7, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-19.080; 2. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-19.260; 3. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-19.264; 4. Damion Gardner, 71, DG-19.267; 5. Jon Stanbrough, 21x, Roberts/Tate-19.270; 6. Darren Hagen, 69, Dynamics-19.284; 7. Jerry Coons, Jr., 71P, Phillips-19.310; 8. Dave Darland, 11, Walker-19.327; 9. Jonathan Hendrick, 68, Hendrick-19.413; 10. Levi Jones, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-19.562; 11. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-19.568; 12. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-19.632; 13. Mark Smith, 1M, J&B-19.645; 14. Robert Ballou, 81, MPHG-19.646; 15. Bobby East, 2B, Benic-19.733; 16. Chad Layton, 7x, Middleswarth-20.013; 17. Trevor Utt, U2, Utt-20.060; 18. Kyle Moody, 175, Pietrofitta-20.258; 19. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, Black Jack-20.291; 20. Mark Bitner, 15, Bitner-20.373; 21. Daryl Stimeling, 30x, Stimeling-21.265; 22. Brian Ehrenzeller, 33, Leach-21.618; 23. Chase Stockon, 32, Stockon-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Jones, 2. Coons, 3. Clauson, 4. Gardner, 5. Smith, 6. Layton, 7. Thomas, 8. Ehrenzeller. 2:37.59
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Stanbrough, 3. Windom, 4. Ballou, 5. Schuerenberg, 6. Bitner, 7. Utt. 2:40.34
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Hagen, 3. Hines, 4. East, 5. Moody, 6. Hendrick, 7. Stimeling. 2:43.17
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Tracy Hines, 3. Jon Stanbrough, 4. Robert Ballou, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Bryan Clauson, 7. Hunter Schuerenberg, 8. Levi Jones, 9. Jerry Coons, Jr., 10. Chris Windom, 11. Mark Smith, 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Bobby East, 14. Mark Bitner, 15. Jonathan Hendrick, 16. Chad Layton, 17. Kyle Moody, 18. Darren Hagen, 19. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 20. Daryl Stimeling, 21. Brian Ehrenzeller, 22. Trevor Utt, 23. Chase Stockon. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-23 Hagen, Laps 24-30 Gardner.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Stanbrough-634; 2-Jones-624; 3-Darland-609; 4-Gardner-600; 5-Hines-599; 6-Clauson-528; 7-Windom-495; 8-Ballou-492; 9-Schuerenberg-485; 10-Hagen-478.
FINAL ROTONDO WEIRICH EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Clauson-255; 2-Jones-227; 3-Darland-211; 4-Gardner-210; 5-Hines-208; 6-Coons-200; 7-Windom-196; 8-Stanbrough-180; 9-Schuerenberg-174; 10-Ballou-165.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 23 – Wilmot, WI – Wilmot Raceway