---- — By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
PORT ROYAL -- A last minute decision turned into a $12,000 payday for Donnie Kreitz Jr. on Saturday night.
The 51-year-old veteran from Sinking Spring didn't even have the engine in his race car on Saturday morning. By nights end, he was standing in victory lane having led all but three of the 50 laps in the 46th annual Tuscarora 50 for the 410 sprint cars at Port Royal Speedway.
"I really like running this race and we were here on Friday night and we saw how nice the track was and how wide it was and we weren't even thinking about coming up here," Kreitz said.
By virtue of starting the feature, Selinsgrove's Blane Heimbach was crowned the 410 sprint car track champion as the two-day Tuscarora weekend closed out the season-long points battle at the speedway.
Kreitz, who won the Tuscarora 50 in 1993 and 1999, had not raced at the track in nearly four years.
He started on the outside pole thanks to the draw for the top-two finishers in each heat race.
He gained control of the feature at the drop of the green when he led teammate Ryan Smith into Turn 1. From there, the veteran showed he hadn't forgotten how to get around the big half-mile Juniata County oval.
By lap six, Kreitz had built a straightaway lead over Smith as he entered lapped traffic.
Dave Blaney, the All Stars points leader, brought out the first of four cautions on lap 6 when he the rear end broke on the car and he slowed to a stop on the backstretch.
The battle that was going on behind Kreitz was one for the ages in the history of the Tuscarora 50.
Brian Montieth, who started 21st, was rim-ridding the top-side of the race track and by lap 21, he had moved into third place.
Rain started to fall on lap 21, four laps shy of the half-way mark.
Danny Dietrich was also on the move, coming from 15th to sixth at lap 25.
"I don't think the rain affected the track at all," Kreitz said. "I was wishing it would have poured so that they would have to call the race."
The rain let up just before the end of the half-way fuel stop and returned on intermittent basis on lap 39.
Following the fuel stop, Kreitz again opened a straightaway lead and even kept his lead in lapped traffic.
"I was really worried when we went out in the feature," he said. "When they went out and watered the top of the race track, I knew they played into other guys' hands better than mine."
Montieth took the lead from Kreitz on lap 37 when he passed him on the frontstretch.
"It was a typical run for us here at Port, We were behind the eight ball all the way," Montieth said. "We haven't been good all year, I don't even know if we are still good, but we were still good tonight, but only on the top. I don't think anybody would have caught Donnie."
Montieth won his only Tuscarora 50 in 2010.
"When Brian went by me, my heart sank," Kreitz added. "I drove around for a lap or so and I tried to pick the pace up. We were lucky to get back by him."
Kreitz would retake the lead for good on lap 39, passing Montieth to the low side as they entered Turn 3.
Dietrich moved into third on lap 40 and then took second from Montieth on the following circuit.
T.J. Stutts spun in Turn 4 on lap 45 to bring out the fourth and final caution.
Kreitz would pulled away on the final restart while Montieth closed in on Dietrich for second, but neither drive could catch the veteran at the checkers.
Dietrich would hold off Montieth for second while Smith fell back to fourth and Lance Dewease finished fifth.
Sixth through 10th were Cap Henry, Tim Shaffer, Greg Hodnett, Mike Wagner and Danny Holtgraver, respectively.
Heats for the 40 410 sprint cars were won by Adam Wilt, Stevie Smith, Dewease and Wagner. Brian Leppo won the B Main while Shaffer set fast time with a lap of 16.827 seconds.
Devin Hart won the 12-lap pro stock feature.