PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Mike Wagner has logged many great moments in his 30-plus years of racing, but few sweeter than the one he made Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway, the birthplace for most of those memories.
Wagner returned to his old-school self on Saturday, as the 1991 and 2011 track champion led all 25 laps from the pole to savor his first win since 2014.
It was his 12th career victory at Port Royal, worth $5,000 and coming via a 2.060-second triumph over Jeff Halligan.
“It feels pretty good,” said Wagner, who lauded his crew and family in victory lane and little about himself.
One of the first individuals who greeted Wagner was his son, Logan, a two-time Port Royal champion himself. The two embraced atop the newly configured victory lane as the crowd, already zestful, grew louder with cheers and affection.
Wagner started his night with an opportunistic pill draw, lining up second in his heat. He finished runner-up in the 10-lap heat, but more importantly, it positioned the veteran to eventually draw the pole for the 25-lap feature.
Wagner, running the top, raced out to a 1.7-second advantage four laps in but once his son, Logan, powered around Paulie Colagiovanni and T.J. Stutts, it appeared it wouldn’t be too long until a battle for the lead formulated.
The younger Wagner trimmed his father’s lead to 1.2 seconds by lap five, but on the following circuit a right rear tire gave way to bring out the yellow flag.
Stutts stayed within a few car lengths of Wagner when things got back underway and pulled alongside the leader with nine laps to go coming off turn four, but couldn’t make the move stick. Stutts eventually grazed the wall in the dwindling laps to finish third.
“I thought we should have run second,” Stutts said. “At one point I thought we were better than Wagner. … Third place tonight helps the bank account.”
Wagner grew his lead to a second by the time he hit lapped traffic with seven circuits remaining, and it only increased from there.
Lance Dewease motored from 16th to finish fourth while Colagiovanni finished fifth. Robbie Kendall, a heat race winner on Saturday, placed sixth.
Ryan Taylor, Jared Esh, and Dylan Cisney finished seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively, while Logan Wagner salvaged 10th.
Mike Wagner, Jeff Halligan, T.J. Stutts, Lance Dewease, Paulie Colagiovanni, Robbie Kendall, Ryan Taylor, Jared Esh, Dylan Cisney, Logan Wagner, Jeff Miller, Blane Heimbach, A.J. Flick, Nicole Bower, Kyle Reinhardt, Dan Shetler, Tyler Reeser, Lucas Wolfe, Gerard McIntyre, Kody Lehman, Joey Hershey, Drew Ritchey, Kevin Nouse, Tyler Bear.