The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Motorsports

September 9, 2011

Taylor seeks his first Port Royal title

PORT ROYAL — Twenty-three-year-old Ryan Taylor of Perkasie is looking to clinch his first-ever track title this weekend as the season wraps up for the Port Royal Speedway with the 44th annual Tuscarora 50 on Saturday night.

The fifth-year sprint car driver, who is in his second season racing at Port Royal, holds a 60-point lead over former track titlist Mike Wagner of Harrisonville.

Mike Erdly, Elizabethville, the 2006 track champion, is 125 points out of the lead.

“Over the winter we gamed planned to just run Port Royal this year because that is what we could afford to do,” Taylor said. “I want to race the 50, but the Friday night race worries me because it’s the Twin 20s and a lot can happen.”

Heavy storms have brought nearly 10 inches of rain over the last five days to the area and, according to public relations director Shawn Brouse, “as of Wednesday night, we are on with high hopes given the somewhat promising forecast just released an hour ago.

The web site will have any upto- date details that need to be released. I’m very hopeful for two days of racing at this point.”

The speedway has lost 10 dates to weather this season, including the fifth annual Dream Race, which is running tonight, and the 60th annual Labor Day Classic, which will not be made up.

Tonight’s Night before the Tuscarora 50, featuring Twin 20s for the 410s and include the pro stocks, is honoring living legends Keith Kauffman, the track’s all-time winningest driver, and car owner Walt Dyer.

“I don’t really keep track of records or know a lot of my accomplishments,” Kauffman said of being honored. “It’s pretty neat. I don’t know how to put all that in words, it’s very nice of them and I appreciate it.”

Kauffman, Mifflintown, scored his 129th win at the track back on June 11. The 2004 inductee into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame is sixth in points.

One of the drivers that Dyer gave a chance to was Lance Dewease, Fayetteville, who scored his 93rd career win at Port Royal on May 21.

“He meant a lot to the sport, I don’t think people realize how long he was in it as a car owner,” Dewease said of Dyer.

“He’s a great guy for the sport who really supported the sport and he gave me the big chance to move up in my career. I am very fortunate for that.”

Dewease, currently fifth in the 410 sprint car points at Port Royal and the points leader at Williams Grove, is one of three drivers — Fred Rahmer, Salfordville, and Doug Wolfgang, Sioux Falls, S.D., the others — to have won the Tuscarora 50 four times. No driver has ever won the event five times.

“You can’t win the race in the first 25 laps, but you can lose it if you overheat the tires,” Dewease said on the difficulty of winning the event. “The track gets a lot slicker and slows down over the last 20 to 15 laps of the race. Last year, tire conservation was critical.”

Except for a stretch following his warm-up accident in the Pennsylvania Speedweek Saturday event at the speedway, Taylor has been in the points lead for the majority of the season.

He and his family make a nearly three-hour tow each Saturday night and that doesn’t leave Ryan time to celebrate if he scores a win.

“I have an agreement with my dad, Barry,” he said. “Dad drives the rig to the track so I can be relaxed and ready to race and I drive it home.”

Taylor got his second career win at the track on April 2 and he won again on Aug. 13. He has raced asphalt go-karts, Slingshots and 358 modifieds before getting into a 410 sprint car when he turned 18.

“I’m humbled to be where are I am at right now,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome is, it’s going to be good. I’m really excited to finish the year off and move on to other races and tracks. We’ve already accomplished one of our goals and that was to get more than one win and our other goal was to finish top-three in the points.”

Taylor finished ninth last season in the points and scored a win in his rookie year at the speedway.

There have been 12 different 410 winners this year at Port Royal with Greg Hodnett, Thomasville, and Justin Henderson, Sioux Falls, S.D., the only drivers to repeat. There were eight different winners in the first eight features to begin the year.

Tonight’s activities get underway between 5 and 6 with a pre-race autograph session in the infield featuring Kauffman, Dyer and Kauffman car owners and Dyer drivers. The twin 20-lap features will pay $3,333 for the Kauffman 20 and $4,610 for the Dyer 20.

One-lap time trials start at 7.

Tonight’s twin 20 winners are guaranteed starters in Saturday’s Tuscarora 50. A $2,000 bonus will go to one driver if he or she, can sweep tonight’s features.

If a driver is not able to do so, the bonus will moved to the Tuscarora 50 if either twin winner can win the race.

Phoenixville’s Brian Montieth, the current four-time 410 champion at the Lincoln Speedway is the defending winner of the Tuscarora 50.

Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow, Okla., is the defending Night Before The 50 winner.

Sunday is the rain date for the Tuscarora 50 at 6:30 p.m., featuring sprints only. In the event of tonight’s rainout, all contingency money and prizes and the Living Legends honors will default to Saturday. 

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