by JacobHord, @HordRaceWatcher

Mother Nature thwarted Port Royal Speedway’s first few attempts of getting their 410 season going, but finally, on Saturday afternoon, the Posse were able to take their first laps around the half-mile in Juniata.

Jeff Halligan and Lynton Jeffery paced the field to the green flag for the 25 lap, $6000 to win feature event. They didn’t make it to the frontstretch before the red flag came out. Halligan made contact with Jeffery’s left rear tire, spinning Jeffery in front of the field, with multiple other driver’s piling in. 

The second attempt at the start was much better. Devon Borden, who now started third, rocketed to the lead on the opening lap, but that was overshadowed by Danny Dietrich going from the sixth row to second place on that first lap. 

Borden put his right rear tire on the wall in turns one and two, while Dietrich kept his left front tire near the inside wall. Borden had a small .383 second lead, but the yellow would come out again with two laps completed. 

Borden and Dietrich ran the same lines on the restart, this time Borden gapping Dietrich a little more, .727 seconds ahead of the Gary Kauffman Racing #48 car. On lap five, Dietrich cut Borden’s lead to .508 seconds, and carved out a couple more tenths on lap six. 

As the leaders crossed the line to start lap seven, they were nose-to-tail going into turn one. Borden was able to hold onto the lead down the backstretch, and then blocked Dietrich’s low line in turns three and four. Dietrich had another run going down the backstretch on lap eight, but with Borden going low in turns three and four, Dietrich couldn’t make the pass. 

Borden’s lead held steady around .3-.45 seconds as the laps clicked by. Meanwhile, the battle for third, fourth, fifth and sixth was heating up between Halligan, Billy Dietrich, Chase Dietz, and Lance Dewease. Halligan and Dewease were slowly reeling in Borden and Dietrich as the laps winded down. 

With six circuits remaining, Borden’s lead was down to .290 seconds, but Dietrich missed his line, allowing Borden to pull away and gap Dietrich by half a second. The race seemed to be Borden’s, but a caution with three laps to go changed everything. 

On that restart, Dietrich darted to the bottom once he got past the cone on the front stretch, going lower than Borden. Dietrich was able to squeeze himself between the inside wall and Borden to make the pass for the lead, and it was like Dietrich had a rocket attached to his car after that. He ran away from Borden. 

“I can’t give all the details away,” Dietrich said about the penultimate restart. “It pretty much came down to experience, just having experience on tracks like this. And that doesn’t mean you’re going to do it right every time. I was able to execute what I was trying to do pretty perfectly, which rarely happens.”

Dietrich was slated to take the checkered flag, but the caution came out one more time on the last lap, so Borden, Halligan, and Dewease would get one more shot at Dietrich. Dietrich was too good, though and ran away with the win on that one lap shootout. It was Dietirich’s second win of the young season. 

“I got really really lucky on that first start, getting through a hole in that crash. I consider it luck because I really didn’t do anything deserve that. I don’t like being on anyone’s tail coming to the green. We got lucky through that, and the next start, we let it rip. Everyone ducked to the bottom and I thought, ‘Well, I’m gonna go to the top.’ I’m either going to sit and go nowhere, or I’m going to come out smelling like a rose, and we came out smelling like a rose,” race winner Danny Dietrich said about the start of the race. 

“I ended up making more mistakes just trying to pressure him [Borden] into making a mistake. You’re here to win. The difference between first and second is doubling your pay. I needed to calm down at times and make sure that if we did catch lapped traffic, which we didn’t, that I was close enough to capitalize on a mistake. A couple times I made a mistake when I got really close to him. I had to talk to myself a little bit and tell myself to quit doing that, because if he makes a mistake, I’m not close enough to capitalize. As a driver, you have to be a little bit patient and talk to yourself and improve yourself,” Dietrich said. 

As mentioned, this was Dietrich’s second win of the 2024 season to go along with seven other top five finishes (eight after his race at Lincoln on Sunday). Unlike the 2023 season, it hasn’t taken Dietrich long to get the momentum built for the 2024 season. 

“It’s really nice. We’ve ran second enough the last year or two. It feels good to get this win here, and get two wins under our belt, and consistently be up front. I’m real happy with how our season has started, we’ll just try to keep it rolling going into tomorrow [Sunday],” concluded Dietrich.