Duke is first 2024 PASS repeater

Ken Duke became the first repeat Pennsylvania Sprint Series winner of the season on Sunday night when he topped the IMCA RaceSaver main event at Selinsgrove Speedway. (Photo by Dan DeMarco)

By Frank Buhrman

SELINSGROVE, Pa. (June 2, 2024) – Ken Duke put all his experience to work, masterfully handling lapped traffic to hold onto the lead and become the first River Valley Builders Pennsylvania Sprint Series repeat winner of 2024, taking the 20-lap feature for IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Cars Sunday at Selinsgrove Speedway.

The hometown driver, a two-time PASS champion and 2019 IMCA RaceSaver national champ, fought off a determined bid by Nick Sweigart – also seeking to become the season’s first repeat winner – and came home first by 2.617 seconds, building most of that margin in the last couple of laps after overcoming a final challenge in race traffic.

The win was also the 24th in Duke’s career. He leads all active PASS competitors in victories.

The race went non-stop … there were no caution flags in any of the PASS racing Sunday … with Duke taking the checkered flag after six minutes and 41 seconds of incredible racing, and that made lapped traffic the defining factor.

Duke had taken the lead from fellow front-row starter Dustin Young. Sweigart moved to his preferred outside line and held off Saturday night’s Port Royal Speedway winner Austin Reed for third, then took second from Young and set his sights on the leader.

Once the back of the field came into sight, it was apparent that the crowd was going to see a classic show between inside-running Duke and outside-running Sweigart as they navigated lapping slower cars. On a couple occasions, that situation nearly gave Sweigart his golden opportunity.

In victory lane, Duke mentioned one instance, when two cars were battling for position in front of him, blocking attempts to pass and allowing Sweigart to close to within less than a car length.

But Duke’s experienced eye spotted the narrowest of openings, and he split the slower cars to keep the lead.

It was Duke’s sixth win at his home track, where he also leads all active drivers.

Sweigart finished second, more than a second and a half ahead of Reed. Drew Young, who slowly advanced from starting eighth, came home fourth and 2023 PASS champion Logan Spahr, driving his family-owned no. 14 while the Eshenaur no. 5 was taking a night off, was fifth.

Dustin Young, who had been part of the battling within the top five most of the night, fell out late with mechanical ills.

If there had been an overall hard-luck award, it surely would have gone to Andrew Boyer. After a good heat race run, he drew the worst re-start pill for the feature, then had his car break on the track as it was lining up for the main event.

A few drops of rain fell during the night, but it was not enough to interfere with the program, and that gave the River Valley Builders PASS tour its first successful two-race weekend of the year. In what has been a terribly wet season, PASS has now completed six of 11 scheduled programs.

Sunday’s race was the first of four straight at Selinsgrove over 12 days. Action resumes Wednesday night, when PASS will complement the Super DirtCar Big Block Modifieds, which will be making their first-ever appearance at the track. Then on Saturday, a once-a-year program will present the PASS sprinters, the winged super sportsman cars, and the roadrunner stocks. Finally, on Thursday, June 13, PASS will return to join the Appalachian Late Model Speedweek program.

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