PORT ROYAL, Pa – Jeff Miller added to what has already been a fairytale season as he picked up his third Weikert’s Livestock 410 Sprint Car victory of the season Saturday at Port Royal Speedway.
Miller bested Anthony Macri by mere inches (.010 seconds) at the start/finish line in the closest margin of victory at Port Royal Speedway since the inception of electronic timing and scoring.
“They said earlier in the night that I had won two races in my rookie season and even then it didn’t seem real,” said Miller. “To be up here again is pretty special and this season has just been amazing.”
Open Wheel Madness 2 surely lived up to it’s namesake as 101 sprint cars across three divisions packed the Speedway pits to begin the night.
In the feature, Daryl Stimeling and Tyler Bear led the field to the green flag with Bear jumping out to the early lead. However, it would be short lived as Miller blasted past Bear on the outside of the track exiting turn 2 from his fourth starting spot to claim the lead and lead the opening circuit.
As Miller began to stretch his lead, it was three-time NASCAR champion and surprise attendee Tony Stewart making early moves. Starting from the seventh starting position, Stewart was up to fourth at the completion of the opening circuit.
Macri was also on the move. Rolling off from the eighth starting spot, Macri moved into sixth on lap six, just as Miller began to enter lap traffic on the backstretch with a nearly three second lead at his expense.
One lap later Stewart moved into third using the top of the speedway coming to the line and on lap eight he overtook Bear for second in turn’s one and two on the outside.
With Miller having issues clearing the lap cars, Stewart was chipping away at the lead. Meanwhile Justin Whittall had moved into third and Macri had worked himself up to fourth, passing Bear with 11 to go.
Stewart, running a Ford powered engine, was having a hard time clearing the lap car of Nicole Bower, but on lap 18 he finally cleared her and he closed to the tail tank of Miller, who was struggling to get around Anthony Fiore’s lap machine.
Stewart tried the bottom of the speedway, but couldn’t quite clear Miller as Miller rocketed around the top and momentum kept him in the lead. With three laps to go, Stewart maneuvered the middle of turns three and four to overtake the rookie to take the lead. However, just as he passed the flag-stand to lead the lap, Stewart banged wheels with Fiore, causing his left rear tire to go flat, handing the lead back to Miller
“I was having a terrible time getting around those lap cars and I knew those guys were coming,” said Miller. “Tony kind of threaded the needle and I wasn’t really sure what happened to him, but he had a quick car.”
As Stewart pulled off the speedway, Miller continued to rail the cushion. Still struggling to pass the lap cars of Fiore and Stimeling, Whittall and Macri were in hot pursuit and it wouldn’t be his last challenge for the lead.
On the white flag lap, Macri slid under Whittall to take the second position in turn’s one and two and used a head of steam down the backstretch to slide under Miller entering turn three. He pulled ahead of Miller and cleared him exiting turn four, but Miller crossed under him and the two cars briefly banged wheels coming to the checkered flag with Miller being deemed the winner by the closest of margins.
Macri, Whittall, Jared Esh, who was the night’s hard charger coming from the 18th starting position and Logan Wagner rounded out the top five. Wagner also overcame extreme adversity as he wrecked his Zemco Headers No. 1 in warm-ups and was forced to pilot his father’s car for the rest of the night to help protect his points lead.
“We rubbed wheels and I pinched him or whatever, but he didn’t really seem real happy with me,” said Miller of the dash to the checkered flag. “It was a racing deal. I’m not giving up for nothing, but I’m not going to destroy my car or his over it.”
For Macri, he was happy with the second and is hoping to use the momentum and recent surge of speed for the big races upcoming on the schedule. He also struggled with an ignition switch problem that halted momentum early in the night.
“This car is nothing shirt of a rocket ship,” said Macri. “If it wasn’t for me hitting the ignition switch twice during that feature I think the outcome might have been different. I’m feeling pretty good about the Tuscarora 50 right now to be honest with you.”
Doug Hammaker won the 358 sprint car feature while Landon Price was victorious in the 305 sprint car feature.