Race Weekend Central

This Weekend in Dirt: Zeb Wise Stops Outlaws & Posse Alike at Port Royal

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Already crowned the All-Star Circuit of Champions titlist, Zeb Wise continued his career year Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway (Oct. 7), besting Lance Dewease to win the Nittany Showdown, his first career World of Outlaws victory.

Wise, the polesitter, lost the lead to Dewease early in the going but rebounded on lap 19 of the 30-lap feature to use the high side to retake control of the race. Wise, along with Tyler Courtney (who finished second Saturday after winning Friday’s feature) derailed the expected storyline of the evening, besting both the Outlaw regulars and the Pennsylvania Posse.

2023 NITTANY SHOWDOWN RACE RESULTS

David Gravel made up some ground on series points leader Brad Sweet with a fourth-place finish, but still trails by 68 markers as the Outlaws season winds down.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: James McFadden triggered a meme-worthy incident late in Saturday’s Last Chance Showdown, triggering an on-track incident in turn 3 that not only saw him wreck out racing with teammate Buddy Kofoid, but also take out fellow Australian Kerry Madsen.

Kofoid eventually finished last in Saturday’s feature.

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

Speaking of Kofoid, he definitely ran afoul of the local Posse drivers Saturday night, incurring some heated gestures from Port Royal regular Justin Whittall after Whittall slapped the wall racing hard with Kofoid for position. 

On the one hand, I do appreciate the Port Royal social media team being quick to the draw to provide clarity for race fans not at the track. But on the other hand, passing judgement on a visiting driver’s conduct with a national touring series visiting feels a bit amateur hour. For all Port Royal does right this whole exchange felt beneath the track.

There’s no getting around it, the Nittany Showdown this weekend was a tour de force for ASCoC tour regulars, as Wise and Courtney were absolutely the class of the field.

That’s notable in itself given that it was a down year for the ASCoC tour (defending champ Courtney was unable to defend his title after a midsummer injury sidelined him and only two drivers made more than 35 series starts). And while some of this may be explained by a Port Royal racetrack that proved harder to pass on than usual, I couldn’t help but wonder if the High Limit Racing Series had something to do with it. The Outlaws are going to be facing more invaders with more seat time as that tour continues to establish itself.

Maybe it was just a bad weekend, maybe it was the fact that the Nittany Showdown’s $15,000-to-win finale paled in comparison to the rain-delayed Tuscarora 50 feature that ran Thursday and featured a major upset win by Brian Brown, but the reality is the wrecks and incidents really made this weekend’s racing choppy. The Last Chance Showdowns both Friday and Saturday felt reminiscent of a late NASCAR restart.

This weekend definitely marked the start of chilly weather in our neck of the woods. Credit to Gravel for being on the money with his merchandise trailer.

Dirt Racing’s Hero(es) of the Weekend

Courtney may not have been able to defend his ASCoC championship this year, but he’s certainly carrying himself like a champ on and off the track. Courtney’s win Friday night was his first Outlaws triumph in two years and was a statement win for a driver that’s now apparently fully recovered from his back injury suffered at Eldora earlier in the summer.

More telling though, was the same sportsmanship he displayed when he officially handed the ASCoC championship over to Wise last month was back again at Port Royal.

Dirt Racing’s Victim(s) of the Weekend

Unfortunately, while Courtney’s recovered Port Royal left another driver to deal with a back injury. Mike Wagner fortunately was able to get out of his car under his own power after enduring a heat race crash on Friday.

Unfortunately, the adrenaline wore off fast and Wagner had to be transported to the hospital. As was seen on social media Saturday, this wreck packed a wallop.

As discussed earlier, Madsen endured a nasty wreck courtesy of the Kofoid/McFadden incident Saturday night, but that wasn’t his only tumble on the weekend. Hunter Schuerenberg slowed on track during Friday’s Last Chance Showdown and left Madsen nowhere to go. Two flips in two nights is as bad a weekend as a sprint car driver can ask for.

Speaking of Schuerenberg, he also endured two incidents during the weekend, bowing out of Saturday’s feature early after a frontstretch tangle with Donny Schatz.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Monday morning (Oct. 16) again at Port Royal Speedway, this time for the Short Track Super Series Speed Showcase. Streaming coverage can be found on Flo Racing.

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