By Richie Murray
Port Royal, Pennsylvania (June 17, 2021)………Big track, big speed and big thrills. That’s what the half-mile of Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway routinely presents when the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship pays a visit to the scenic dirt oval for the penultimate race of Eastern Storm on Saturday night, June 19.
Three past Port Royal Eastern Storm feature winners are in Saturday night’s field, and all are Eastern Storm champions themselves: Chris Windom, Brady Bacon and Robert Ballou. In fact, all three won at Port Royal, captured the Eastern Storm title and the USAC National Sprint Car title in the same season at one point in their career.
Windom (Canton, Ill.) won at Port Royal in both 2017 and 2018, both years in which he captured the Eastern Storm title. The 2017 USAC National Sprint Car champ hasn’t finished outside the top-two in his last three Port Royal starts, adding a 2nd in 2019. Windom was also 10th in 2012.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) was victorious at Port Royal in 2014, winning the Eastern Storm crown that year before adding a first USAC National Sprint Car title as the cherry on top. The now three-time USAC National Sprint Car champion finished 2nd at Port Royal in 2016, 3rd in 2017, 4th in 2013 and 7th in both 2015 and 2019. His time of 2:32.57 set in 2019 is the 8-lap USAC National Sprint Car track record at Port Royal.
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) had an Eastern Storm for the ages in 2015, sweeping the series, including the stop at Port Royal en route to a dominating Eastern Storm championship and was the king of the USAC National Sprint Cars at season’s end. Ballou also took 4th place finishes at Port Royal in 2012, 2014 and 2018, as well as an 8th in 2016.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) possesses the one-lap USAC National Sprint Car track record at Port Royal of 18.105, set during his Eastern Storm and USAC National Sprint Car championship season of 2019, a night in which he earned his best career finish at the track, a 3rd in the feature. Leary added a 5th in 2016 and a 10th in 2018.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) has twice been a fast qualifier in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition at Port Royal in both 2014 and 2017. The reigning USAC Silver Crown champ finished a best of 2nd in 2017, and added a 5th in 2019, 7th in 2014, 7th in 2018 and 8th in 2015.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) was the fastest qualifier at Port Royal in 2016 and finished as the runner-up in the feature during 2015 Eastern Storm, adding that to his resume along with a 4th in 2019, 5th in 2013, 6th in 2014, 6th in 2018 and 7th in 2017.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) has twice been a runner-up finisher at Port Royal with the USAC Sprints, earning 2nd place results in both 2014 and 2018 and was 8th in 2013 and 2017. KTJ also notched a top qualifying lap at Port Royal to set fast time in 2018.
Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) is in the midst of his first Eastern Storm tour since 2016. He’s earned a pair of 10th place finishes at Port Royal with the USAC National Sprint Cars in both 2013 and 2015. Isaac Chapple (Willow Branch, Ind.) slotted in the 10th spot for his best Port Royal run in 2016. Matt Westfall was a best of 14th in 2018 at Port Royal.
A number of USAC East Coast Sprint Cars’ best have performed well at Port Royal. Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.) has won the last two USAC EC features in 2020 and in April of 2021. With the USAC National Sprint Cars, Bright finished 13th back in 2017.
Three-time USAC East Coast Sprint Car champion Steven Drevicki (Reading, Pa.) finished 2nd behind Bright back in April’s EC race. Drevicki was 20th in the 2019 USAC National Sprint Car race at Port Royal. Briggs Danner (Allentown, Pa.) garnered the 3rd spot with the East Coast series back in April of this year.
Mark Bitner (Columbus, N.J.) was the first USAC East Coast Sprint Car winner at Port Royal during the 2018 season. He made the field for the first USAC National Sprint Car feature at Port Royal as well in 2012, finishing 14th. Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.) was 9th with the USAC National Sprint Cars at Port Royal in 2016 while Timmy Buckwalter (Douglassville, Pa.) recorded a 9th in 2018. Mark Smith (Sunbury, Pa.) was 11th in the first Eastern Storm visit to Port Royal in 2012. Chris Allen Jr. (Old Bridge, N.J.) finished 5th with the East Coast series in April.
Among those making their first Port Royal Eastern Storm appearances are multi-time Pennsylvania USAC National Sprint Car winner in 2021, Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.). Thorson, the 2016 USAC National Midget champion, is currently the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars in 2021.
Fellow Rookie and a top-ten resident in the current standings, Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.), will make his first visit as well along with 2018 USAC National Midget champion Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.); 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champion Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.); 2018 USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion Charles Davis Jr. (Buckeye, Ariz.); 2021 AMSOIL USAC CRA Sprint Car winner Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.); first-time Eastern Storm competitor Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.); Pennsylvanians Nash Ely (Sinking Spring, Pa.) and Tom Savage (Red Lion, Pa.) and more.
Saturday’s Eastern Storm event at Port Royal features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, 410 Wing Sprint Cars and an EMMR Exhibition.
Pits open at 4pm EDT on Saturday with front gates opening at 4pm and qualifying at 7pm. Adult admission tickets are $25, students age 13 to 18 are $10 and children 12 and under will be admitted free. Pit passes are $35.
All Eastern Storm events will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.