PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Struggling through a summer of dissatisfaction, Lance Dewease studied himself and the transformational, high-tempo racing styles Kyle Larson and Anthony Macri.
“At Port Royal,” Dewease started, “it’s all about momentum.”
Slowly, even if it went unnoticed through the dominance of Larson and Macri, Dewease and the Donny Kreitz Jr.-owned No. 69k team were piecing things together. Dewease trained himself to break outdated habits and he needed to be more aggressive.
Dewease hadn’t won at Port Royal since March 14 when he took the checkered flag during Friday’s preliminary feature for the 53rd annual Tuscarora 50 at the half-mile track.
The Hall of Fame driver will be looking for his seventh Tuscarora 50 victory tonight.
“I think this one would be up there,” Dewease said. “Probably because we [weren’t] going into it as the favorite like we have in years past.”
It is widely known the No. 69k and Dewease will do anything in its power to make the bottom of the race track prevail. But this year, the top has been the path to victory. Larson and Macri combined to win nine of the 11 features at Port Royal heading into this week.
“Even last [Saturday] when we came third, watching the replay, there’s habits I needed to get out of that I’m used to doing that’ll cost me time here and there,” Dewease said. “It just seems like you have to run the top in one and two. It doesn’t matter if you’re any good you have to be up there. If you pass a car the wrong way in one and two the guy behind you gets so much momentum and eats you up the backstretch.”
Look no further than lap 25 of Friday’s 30-lap preliminary feature to understand Dewease’s return to victory lane. After biding his time and watching Larson and Macri slug it out, Dewease applied all of his findings and raced to the lead in a single lap.
Once Dewease got around Macri for second, he darted low while Larson ran alone in the top groove. The two rounded the backstretch side by side before Larson nudged ahead. But it all worked accordingly for Dewease, who saw more lapped traffic approaching.
Knowing Larson would high-ride, Dewease slung it into turn three and ripped it across the track in front of Larson.
“You have to go by them without losing the momentum,” Dewease said. “It’s a slide-job type passing. … One and two is all about momentum. If you pass a car the wrong way in [turns] one and two, it can eat you up going down the backstretch.”
For the first time in a while, Dewease set the pace and did so in a way he envisioned.
“I thought I did that tonight,” Dewease said. “I thought I really needed to be where I was every time I needed to be, in the right spot. Not lose a spot to a guy, or give a spot right back. And not hesitate.”
Dewease is looking for another solid 50 laps on Saturday night.
“If we can keep some pressure on them where they have to run really hard up there, maybe a little harder than they want,” Dewease started, “we can kind of put them in a situation where they are overusing their cars and make a mistake.”
“It’s still 50 laps. That’s what I always go back to. We’ve won the race more than anybody.”