The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 28, 2013

Motorsports: Esh's pass leads to Weikert Memorial win


Daily Item

---- — By Shawn Wood

For The Daily Item

PORT ROYAL -- Joe Montana and Dwight Clark might have had "The Catch." Lancaster's Doug Esh has "The Pass."

Esh, in his first season driving for owners Tom and Fran Chiappelli, blew by Brad Sweet and four-time and defending All-Star champion Tim Shaffer going into Turn 3 on lap nine to score his first-ever Bob Weikert Memorial win at Port Royal Speedway on Saturday.

"It's pretty awesome to take off with two of the best guys in the country," Esh said of Sweet and Shaffer. "When I saw Brad getting into trouble and Tim getting around him -- and I was kind of coming to Tim -- I thought we had a shot (at winning). You don't get an opportunity much and I was on his (Shaffer's) bumper and I just had to make the pass."

Sweet, of Grass Valley, Cal., who is running a 17-race schedule in the Nationwide Series for Kasey Kahne Racing, jumped out to an early lead from the pole position after winning the dash.

Shaffer, of Aliquippa, closed on Sweet and passed him for the lead on lap six.

"It kind of stinks as we took the lead and we were pretty good. I just got a little jacked up there and I didn't move to the top quick enough and a couple of guys got by me," said Sweet, who finished second. "We were able to hang with them and chase them down, but it was one lane on the top and we weren't able to get the lead back."

Esh, who started fourth, made it a three-car battle for the lead on lap seven, and, two laps later, he got a good run off of Turn 2 and made the pass for the lead as he drove to the low side of Turn 3.

"It's just amazing to come out here with a new team, new car and a lot of changes," he said. "It's an honor to be here to beat some of the best in the country."

Dale Blaney, of Hartford, Ohio, who stated sixth, raced to a solid third-place run.

"The track usually slows down a second as the race goes, but it didn't slow down; it just seemed like it got faster," Blaney said. "It's a cool place; I love coming here."

Blaney had a shot at Sweet for second on the lap 16 restart.

"I was hoping that I could have pulled of the pass coming off two as it was going to be hard for me when I got down to Turn 3 to get anything done, but you never know," he said. "(Sweet) could have slipped a little bit, but we gave it a shot. We were pretty equal once we got strung out a bit."

Shaffer had a top-three run end on lap 11 when he tried to squeeze by the stopped car of Ryan Taylor on the backstretch but clipped his car and damaged the nose wing.

Logan Schuchart, piloting a replica Weikert's Livestock No. 29 sprint car, set a track record in qualifying with a lap of 15.376 seconds.

"The other week we won here, lap 18 was our fastest lap of the night and I think it's the new clay that they put on the track," Esh said. "It's widening out a bit, and as it starts widening out, you carry so much momentum here, you can run around here and never lift off the gas like you are qualifying. It's wicked fast."

Danny Lasoski and Cap Henry rounded out the top five.

Sixth through 10th were Mike Wagner, Lance Dewease, Jac Haudenschild, Steve Buckwalter and Blane Heimbach.

Kyle Larson put on a show after making the field through the B-main. He started 22nd to was as high as seventh before having break issues that caused him to spin on lap 16. He would finish 17th. The team changed an engine after time trials.

Heats for the 39-car field went to Buckwalter, Greg Hodnett, Dewease and Dylan Cisney. Danny Holtgraver took the B Main.