PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Entering the 2019 season, one could argue that no driver in the pits was more determined to not let history repeat itself than Dylan Yoder.
Leading the point standings entering the final event of the 2018 racing season, Jeff Rine picked up the victory to Yoder’s second place finish, which allowed Rine to claim the championship in one of the closest of margins in the history of the Port Royal Speedway.
Obviously disappointed, Yoder could’ve easily packed up his trailer and went home. Already a 14-time winner at Port Royal in super late model competition, one could argue that he didn’t have anything left to prove.
However, he came back in 2019 with a goal in mind: win the championship. On the heels of three victories, eight podium finishes and 13 top-10 finishes, Yoder led the points from start to finish and picked up his first career River Valley Builders Super Late Model Championship title by a commanding 445 points.
“It’s always nice to win track championships and it says a lot about our team and it’s resolve to come back from last year’s heartbreak,” said Yoder. “We’ve had years where we won more races, but I think in terms of consistency this one was the top and was pretty special.”
Yoder opened up the season with a second-place finish, followed by finishes of sixth, third, eighth, back to back second place’s, fifth and once again second before finally landing in victory lane in late June. The following week Yoder was once again leading when a blown tire ended his night early.
He would be credited with 16th, which would ultimately be one of only three occurrences all season where his No. 24 finished outside of the top-10.
It would take Yoder roughly a month to park it in in victory lane a second time as he did again on June 20th, and he backed it up by winning the following weekend during the $2,500 Living Legends Dream Race.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even sure if he was going to run for points this season.
“We really wanted to head out to Eldora (Speedway) this year and it just so happened that their date lined up with an off weekend, so it allowed us to run for points,” said Yoder. “I’ll always be able to say going forward that we won the track title at Port Royal Speedway, so I’m really proud to have made this happen.”
He credits the unique track surface of the Juniata County oval for allowing him to make changes to the car that he normally wouldn’t other places and believes that the weekly competition the speedway presents make his season even more special.
“Port really slicks off a bit different than other tracks and that allows me to try things with the car that I normally wouldn’t be able to other places,” said Yoder. “And it seems like every week there is a bunch of invaders and past champions in the pits looking to capitalize on the payouts the track offers and be a part of this track. Those guys don’t make it easy on us, but that’s what makes us better too.”
While Yoder isn’t sure if he will return to weekly competition in 2020 to defend his title, he’s looking to returning behind the wheel next year. And even if he chooses not to defend his title, he’s extremely thankful to be able to put his name in the history books of the Juniata County oval.
“We might want to travel a little more next year, so I’m not sure what next season holds for us quite yet,” said Yoder. “But I’m really proud to represent a growing track like Port Royal as their champion and no matter what, we’ll always consider the place home anytime we pull in the pits.”