PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Lance Dewease watched Kyle Larson and Anthony Macri transform the style of racing that pens checks at Port Royal Speedway, and he began to look himself in the mirror.
Trusty tactics worth 113 wins across four decades weren’t cashing in, so Dewease and the No. 69k camp, powered by sprint car masterminds Don Kreitz Jr. and Davey Brown, dug deeper. On Friday with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions, Dewease stormed back to victory lane and emphatically turned the tide, driving past Larson and Macri on the bottom with five laps to go to bag the Night Before the 50 prize.
Dewease tallied a 2.484-second victory over Macri and Larson, who led the opening 25 laps before fading to third, 3.2 seconds off the pace.
“We were really good all night,” Dewease said. “We unloaded and we were really good. I can’t complain one bit. We had speed the whole night. I could pass cars the whole night. We were pretty good here last Saturday. We were pretty good here a couple of months ago when Kyle [Larson] won and I ran second from 10th. We’ve definitely gained on it here and hopefully we can get in a position to have a shot at it tomorrow.”
It’s Dewease’s fifth win of the season, 114th in his career at Port Royal, and second at the track this year. Six months separated the first win on March 14 to Friday, but none of that seems to matter now heading into the $53,000-to-win Tuscarora 50 on Saturday.
While Macri and Larson were the two fastest cars off the truck, Dewease showed throughout he had the best car when it mattered. After timing sixth overall, he raced from fourth to a 1.9-second heat win. In the dash, he went from fifth to second in four laps and started fourth in the feature.
Larson started on the outside of the front row and, like the three previous times he won at Port Royal this year, raced into clean air and set a swift pace. After Paul McMahan brought out the race’s only caution on lap four that wiped away Larson’s 2.1-second lead, the next 26 laps went green and brimmed with excitement.
Macri gave Larson all he could handle for the opening 20 laps, trying to befuddle him in traffic with numerous slide-job attempts. But right as Macri needed to go, he realized he used too much tire up trying to keep pace with Larson.
“I know I’m better than most here in lapped traffic,” said Macri, a six-time winner at the speedway this year. “When it was my time to pounce, soon as I did that, I started spinning the tires real bad. I just wasn’t being real smart, not driving the right part of the racetrack.”
Dewease, meanwhile, hung around long enough to keep pace, yet save his best for last. With six laps to go, Dewease drove by Macri off turn four for second and darted past Larson on the bottom of turns one and two for the lead.
In a half of lap, Dewease went from potentially watching Larson and Macri beat him yet again to now regaining power. It’s a testament to Dewease’s countless hours of study, dissecting every corner of the race on film to see where he needs to make gains and attack given the more aggressive style of racing Port Royal is hosting this year.
“I thought I did that tonight,” Dewease said. “I thought I really needed to be where I was every time I needed to be, in the right spot. Not lose a spot to a guy, or give a spot right back. And not hesitate.”
Larson, on the other hand, couldn’t duplicate his torrid pace for 30 laps like he did in his previous three wins at the track this year. On Thursday, junked his primary car and Paul Silva deployed a new piece for Friday, but that wasn’t the fallout, Larson said. He simply wasn’t strong enough in traffic.
“I think they were that much better than we were,” Larson said. “Once we caught traffic, like a clean track, I thought I had OK grip. Struggled off the corners, so then it magnified once I got to traffic and I felt like that’s where they were really better than us. That’s where they were able to move around.”
Dylan Cisney and Rico Abreu rounded out the top five.
Logan Wagner won his third straight track title with his 16th-place effort.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 69K-Lance Dewease ; 2. 39M-Anthony Macri ; 3. 57-Kyle Larson ; 4. 5C-Dylan Cisney ; 5. 24-Rico Abreu ; 6. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 7. 26-Cory Eliason ; 8. 5-Brent Marks ; 9. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 10. 17-Ian Madsen ; 11. 70-Cale Thomas ; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 13. 51-Freddie Rahmer ; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney ; 15. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 16. 1-Logan Wagner ; 17. 98-Jared Esh ; 18. 99-Skylar Gee ; 19. 11T-TJ Stutts ; 20. 11-Zeb Wise ; 21. 55-Mike Wagner ; 22. 39T-Justin Peck ; 23. 21-Brian Brown ; 24. 42-Sye Lynch ; 25. 13-Paul McMahan ; 26. 18-Gio Scelzi ; 27. 25-Tyler Bear  Lap Leaders: Kyle Larson (1-24), Lance Dewease (25-30)