The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

July 5, 2014

Motorsports: Wolfe wins Speedweek at Port Royal

PORT ROYAL — Lucas Wolfe picked a good time to win his first-ever Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek race.

Wolfe, the 2007 Speedweek champion who became a father last week, set a track record in qualifying and then backed it up by winning for the first time ever at Port Royal Speedway on night eight of Speedweek.

Unofficially, Wolfe and defending Speedweek champion Greg Hodnett are tied atop the Speedweek points battle heading into tonight’s finale at Selinsgrove Speedway.

“Traffic was difficult and the air was really dirty,” Wolfe said. “I was on the bottom making up ground to Dave (Blaney).”

Blaney, the former World of Outlaws, champion led the first 20 of the 30-lap feature when his right rear tire exploded to bring out the first caution of the night.

“It’s tough to lose a battle that way,” Wolfe said of getting by Blaney for the lead. “It’s been a very successful week and we’ve been fast everywhere.”

Wolfe has set fast time in five of the seven races that have taken place over the last nine days as Thursday’s race at Port Royal was the only race of Speedweek to be rained out.

Blaney, who sat on the pole thanks to the inversion draw, jumped out to an early lead which grew to almost a straightway over Doug Esh when they entered lapped traffic on lap 6.

Blaney was slicing through lapped traffic as he was using all of the race track while Esh was closing in on him.

Wolfe, who started sixth, moved around Esh for second on lap 18 as the pair raced off Turn 4.

Wolfe was closing in on Blaney for the lead when the Blaney’s tired exploded.

Following the restart, as Wolfe pulled away from the field, Steve Smith, who started fifth, got around Esh on lap 21. The move came just after the second caution of the event came out for Logan Wagner who was running fourth at the time when he slowed on the back stretch.

With Wolfe leading the field, he had a decision to make as to whether to run the high side or low side over the final nine laps.

“It was a difficult decision,” Wolfe said. “The top was going to be difficult to use to clear lapped traffic and I got behind the lapped car of Davey Sammons and I ran the bottom as I figured that it would be difficult for them to get around me.”

Smith, who won Friday’s Mitch Smith Memorial on at Williams Grove, closed in on Wolfe over the final nine laps but fell a car length short at the finish line.

“We had a really good race car and Lucas did a really nice job once he got out there in clean air,” Smith said.

Esh would settle for third with Hodnett finishing fourth and Curt Michael, fifth.

Sixth through 10th were Mike Erdly, Brent Marks, Blane Heimbach, Danny Dietrich and Kyle Reinhardt, respectively.

Heats for the 34 sprint cars were won by Blaney, Kyle Moody, Esh and Nate Snyder. Reinhardt won the B-Main. Wolfe set a track record in qualifying with a lap of 15.168 seconds.

“It feels a lot faster than 127 miles per hour, I can tell you that,” Wolfe said of his record-setting time-trial lap. “I’d like to be the first to get into the 14-second bracket.”

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