MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – For the majority of Friday’s 25-lap Pennsylvania Speedweek opener at Williams Grove Speedway, it appeared Lance Dewease wouldn’t be able to muster enough speed to overtake Brian Montieth for the top spot.
The high side was rolling and passing was tough early on. But on the race’s third and final restart, Dewease landed the decisive dagger and led the final 16 laps to claim his 99th career Williams Grove victory and 29th overall Pennsylvania Speedweek triumph.
After two sub-par restarts on laps seven and nine, Dewease executed the third and last one to perfection, landing a slide job on Montieth off turn two that positioned himself on the top to counter Montieth’s crossover off turn four.
Dewease earned a .931-second victory and a $5,000 payout over a hard-charging Kyle Larson, who scored his 14th straight finish inside the top two Friday night.
“It was a good night for us,” Dewease said. “It’s always good to get a win, but it’s always nicer when Larson is here.”
Dewease put himself in prime position from the onset, timing second overall out of 38 cars with a lap of 16.769. Rico Abreu scored quick time honors with a lap of 16.645.
Since Dewease qualified in the top four, he had to start fourth in his heat because of the Pennsylvania Speedweek format.
The nine-day, nine-race series puts the fastest cars in each heat in the fourth starting position, and if they can simply transfer, they’ll be draw-eligible.
While Larson won Dewease’s heat by 4.055 seconds, Dewease finished third and eventually drew the second starting position for the 25-lap main event.
Montieth raced out to a 1.366-second lead on Dewease before the race’s first stoppage on lap six, when Matt Campbell and Landon Myers tangled in turn two. Two laps later, another yellow flew, this time for a slowing Robert Ballou.
By that point, Dewease knew the third restart needed to be a good one, since his desired bottom groove had yet to come alive.
“After that one caution, I found the middle [lane] and put the wing back,” Dewease said. “The second restart I didn’t get a good jump and he got away. On that last restart, I got a really good run on him. … We were fortunate enough to get him on that last restart.”
Sure enough, Dewease timed the lap-10 restart flawlessly. He stalked Montieth for half a lap before he bolted his No. 69K deep into turn three, up the turn four banking, to overtake the preferred top lane and clean air.
Dewease then beat Montieth back to the stripe to lead lap 10 by .002 seconds.
That wasn’t the end, though. Like Wednesday night’s feature with the All Star Circuit of Champions at Port Royal, Larson emerged in the trickling laps.
After he got around Montieth for second with eight laps to go, Larson pulled to within three car lengths of Dewease with three laps to go.
But it wasn’t enough time for Larson to win from the fifth starting position.
“It was a solid night,” Larson said. “We qualified good. I felt good all night. Came up a little bit short there, but coming short to Lance is not too bad. I felt like I was better than him. Starting fifth, it’s tough to get going. I feel like you give up half the race to get to second, and by that time we’re in traffic.”
“I was able to come away with a lot [of notes],” Larson added. “We found a package that’s been working a couple weeks ago and we’ve been sticking to it. I want to get a win here really bad.”
Now, Dewease sits one win away from the century mark at Williams Grove, as well as one victory from tying Fred Rahmer’s all-time Pennsylvania Speedweek win mark at 30.
“One hundred is a number I’m trying to get to,” Dewease said. “Next week would be a nice one to win. But right now we’re worried about tomorrow night.”
When asked if it’d be hard to miss Selinsgrove if he happens to win at Lincoln on Saturday, Dewease said, “No, it won’t be hard at all. With Davey (Brown, chief mechanic), we only do back-to-back races with him. If we did Selinsgrove, that’d be three.”
Freddie Rahmer, Danny Dietrich, and Ryan Smith rounded out the top five. Anthony Macri, Brent Marks, Lucas Wolfe, Jeff Halligan, and Brock Zearfoss closed the top 10.
Robert Ballou came home 17th, one lap down, and Montieth finished 18th, eight laps down.
Abreu placed 20th, his night ended prematurely after running into T.J. Stutts while battling for sixth on lap nine.
Five full-time Speedweek competitors failed to qualify for Friday’s feature: Sammy Swindell, Logan Wagner, Cale Thomas, Dylan Cisney, and Jared Esh.
Swindell timed third overall, but drivetrain issues forced the three-time World of Outlaws champion to retire early from the evening.
Pennsylvania Speedweek continues Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway.
1. 69k-Lance Dewease, 2. 57-Kyle Larson, 3. 51-Freddie Rahmer, 4. 48-Danny Dietrich, 5. 72-Ryan Smith, 6. 39m-Anthony Macri, 7. 5m-Brent Marks, 8. 24-Lucas Wolfe, 9. 45-Jeff Halligan, 10. 3z-Brock Zearfoss, 11. 99m-Kyle Moody, 12. 91-Kyle Reinhardt, 13. 0-Rick Lafferty, 14. 55k-Robbie Kendall, 15. 75d-Chase Dietz, 16. 55-Mike Wagner, 17. 12-Robert Ballou, 18. 21-Brian Montieth, 19. 25-Tyler Bear, 20. 24r-Rico Abreu, 21. 11-T.J. Stutts, 22. 27s-Adrian Shaffer, 23. 1w-Matt Campbell, 24. 19m-Landon Myers.
DNQ: Mark Smith, Nicole Bower, Logan Wagner, Justin Whittal, Dylan Cisney, Steve Buckwalter, Doug Hammaker, Troy Fraker, Chad Trout, Jared Esh, Brett Michalski, Sammy Swindell, Cale Thomas, Kody Lehman.
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