Sweigart rides high side to Port Royal PASS victory

Nick Sweigart took the top side of the track to the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car checkers in Saturday’s PASS main event at Port Royal Speedway. (Photo by WRT Brian Rhoad)

By Frank Buhrman

PORT ROYAL, Pa. (April 20, 2024) – Two weeks ago, Nick Sweigart committed to the high side of Port Royal Speedway’s racing surface, and while his racing line thrilled the crowd, he needed some late attrition among other front-runners for it to result in a fourth-place finish in the River Valley Builders Pennsylvania Sprint Series makeup of the 2023 Keystone RaceSaver Challenge.

This Saturday night was very different.

Hanging high, and hitting the wall once, the Myerstown veteran shot from his sixth starting position into second on the opening lap, then got past early leader Ken Duke at the beginning of lap three.

From that point on, Sweigart was atop the Speed Palace leaderboard and despite his critical appraisal of his driving over the last half of the race, he held his lead in traffic and scored a 2.159-second victory over defending PASS champion Logan Spahr, who took the runner-up spot from Duke on the final circuit of the 20-lap feature.

The feature ran non-stop and was completed in less than seven minutes. Only three of the 26 starters failed to finish, including Fred Arnold, who stopped within sight of the checkered flag on the final lap.

It was Sweigart’s first PASS victory since the 2021 Founders Cup race for Keystone RaceSaver Challenge non-qualifiers (a race that doesn’t count in Sweigart’s career totals), after which he left RaceSaver competition, only to return midway through last season. Officially, the win is Sweigart’s 10th with PASS and the first for the Williams team. It was his sixth career win at Port Royal, where Penns Valley Meat Market sponsors the series. He is the leading active driver in Port wins in a RaceSaver sprint.

In victory lane, Sweigart thanked the Williams family multiple times for allowing him to return to IMCA RaceSaver/PASS competition. He also thanked the team for giving him such a strong car.

And it was strong, also taking the win from fifth starting position in his heat race. This week several drivers committed to the high line, and some were rewarded with good finishes, but on a track that had already held up under 170 green-flag laps prior to the PASS feature, no one could match Sweigart.

In a 25-lap feature, Spahr might have had a chance. Starting seventh, he wasn’t an early mover but came on late, splitting Kruz Kepner and Mike Melair for third with one late-race pass and then edging Duke for second at the end.

Duke, who committed to running the bottom, was consistently strong all night and finished third, with race-long top-five runners Kepner and Melair fourth and fifth.

With 40 RaceSaver teams in attendance, qualifying was tough. This Saturday, the River Valley Builders PASS tour makes its first stop of the season at Selinsgrove Speedway.

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