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Nick Sweigart makes a daring last-lap pass to earn Keystone Challenge at Port Royal

Paul Wilson Photo

By Todd Heintzelman

PORT ROYAL, Pa.: Nick Sweigart went from third to first on the final lap to win the Keystone RaceSaver Challenge for the 305 sprint cars Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway.

As Zach Newlin and Doug Dodson raced for the lead, Sweigart, who started 12th, made a three-wide pass, blasting into the lead off turn two.

Newlin gave it one final shot with a slider in turns three and four, but it was Sweigart blasting off the top of turn four and beating Newlin back to the line by .862 for his second Port Royal win of the season. Dodson settled for third.

“It all played out there on the last lap,” Sweigart said. “Those guys ran a hell of a race the entire race. They were trying their best, and I was sitting back there in third and could see what I needed to do. It all worked out.”

“It’s hard to say what to do,” Newlin said. “Doug slid me and then (Sweigart) blows around us on the outside. I thought I could slide him in three and four, but I didn’t have enough to get in front of him. He must have drove one hell of a race, because he pulled 12. It was my race to lose, and I lost it. We’ve been running pretty crappy, so I’ll take second.”

“That was a lot of fun,” Dodson said. “It sucks to end up third, but racing and dicing and running close, I’m grinning to be a part of it. It’s great to be this competitive here for such a big race. We keep getting better here. Hopefully, we can click off a win soon. To be racing for the win in such a huge race is just awesome. I was in Germany all week and couldn’t help. They had a really nice piece ready.”

Newlin controlled the race after immediately taking the lead from his second starting spot. Third starter Doug Dodson closed in on Newlin when they started lapping cars.

Meanwhile, Sweigart was pounding the top and advancing forward from his 12th starting spot. He took third with 10 laps to go and quickly closed on the top two.

“I didn’t know how lapped traffic was going to play out,” Sweigart said. “I knew we were right there. We just needed something to go our way. I definitely had the car. The crew had it hooked up. It all panned out. This is awesome. This one was on my bucket list.”

Dodson pressured Newlin for the lead, but Newlin kept him at bay and put a lapped car in between them. But, the only yellow of the 25-lap feature flew with three laps to go.

Dodson and Newlin swapped the lead at each end of the speedway following the restart. Sweigart waited patiently in third until the final lap when he made the winning move, beating Newlin and Dodson. Garrett Bard and Christian Rumsey completed the top five.

National RaceSaver Champion, Pennsylvania State Champion, and Pennsylvania Sprint Series Champion Ken Duke Jr. raced from the 21st starting spot to finish sixth, earning the Hard Charger Award.

“We were not good earlier tonight,” Duke said. “In the heat race, I screwed up on the start. I made so many mistakes and it put us behind the eight-ball. We got it going a little bit in the B-main. I knew we’d be good in the feature, but I didn’t know we’d be that good. I wish there was a few more cautions. I’ll take it, 21st to sixth at Port Royal in biggest race of the year against the best competition in the country. I’ll take that any day.”

Kevin Adams, Kevin Nagy, Jeff Geiges and Jaremi Hanson rounded out the top 10. Dodson set overall quick time with a lap of 18.782. Heat races for the 50 cars were won by Nagy, Rumsey, Sweigart, Statler, Kepner and Scott Frack. Kyle Keen and Devin Adams won the twin B-mains.

Kassidy Kreitz took the lead from Drew Ritchey on the final lap to win the Founder’s Cup race for the 305 non-qualifiers. Ritchey led the first 14 laps before Kreitz’s inside move coming off turn four. She is a guaranteed starter for next year’s RaceSaver Challenge. It was her second win in the event. Ritchey, Jay Krout, Justin Clark and Wally Eshenaur completed the top five.

In the 25-lap feature for the Mason-Dixon limited late models, it was track champion Andrew Yoder dominating the event for his seventh win of the season. He earned $1,500.

Devin Hart came out on top of a torrid battle for second in the closing laps. Justin Weaver, Dillan Stake and Chad Myers completed the top five.  Trent Brenneman, Shawn Shoemaker, James Lichliter, Derick Garman and Ryan Zook rounded out the top 10.

Keystone RaceSaver Challenge 305 Sprint Car Feature, 25 Laps: 1. Nick Sweigart. 2. Zach Newlin. 3. Doug Dodson. 4. Garrett Bard. 5. Christian Rumsey. 6. Ken Duke Jr. 7. Devin Adams. 8. Kevin Nagy. 9. Jeff Geiges. 10. Jaremi Hanson. 11. Ian Cumens. 12. Kenny Heffner. 13. Jonathan Jones. 14. Erin Statler. 15. Dylan Proctor. 16. Jon Haegele. 17. Tim Tanner. 18. Brad Mellott. 19. Scott Frack. 20. Domenic Melair. 21. Cruz Kepner. 22. Ryan Lynn. 23. Larry McVay. 24. Kyle Keen

Founder’s Cup, 15 Laps: 1. Kassidy Kreitz. 2. Drew Ritchey. 3. Jay Krout. 4. Justin Clark. 5. Wally Eshenaur. 6. Mike Alleman. 7. Nathan Gramley. 8. Jared Zionkowski. 9. John Fiore. 10. Derek Hauck. 11. Will Brunson. 12. Dave Guss. 13. Fred Arnold. 14. Daren Bolac. 15. Chase Metheney. 16. Cassandra Minimum. 17. Jimmy White. 18. Matthew Kline. 19. Dave Graber. 20. Tylor Cochran. 21. Joe Kay. 22. Keith Prutzman. 23. Tom Humphries. 24. Roger Irvine. 25. Jake Waters. 26. Tom Carberry.

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