SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Danny Dietrich had an ace up his sleeve when it came to his domination of Sunday night’s Pennsylvania Speedweek feature at Selinsgrove Speedway.
Dietrich and his No. 48 Gary Kauffman Racing team selected a harder-compound tire just before the main event, and when all was said and done that tire carried him to victory lane.
The Gettysburg, Pa., veteran led 27 of 30 laps in the Jan Opperman/Dick Bogar Memorial at the half-mile dirt track, but it was in the second half of the race that Dietrich shined.
After regaining the lead from Rico Abreu on lap 16, Dietrich steadily stretched his lead out to 5.115 seconds during the second half of the race, taking the checkered flag unchallenged for his 11th Speedweek victory — perhaps his most dominant yet.
“Last minute, my guys busted their butts and got a medium tire on this right rear (corner),” Dietrich tipped in victory lane. “We weren’t sure if that would be the right ticket, the right combination, but I think the harder tire showed there at the end. We were so good. I couldn’t believe how well it ripped the top and how it would go to the bottom when I needed it to. The car was just so much fun to drive.
“We actually had this thing sitting around since East Bay (Raceway Park) in February, and we figured what better time to put it on than tonight, with the speeds this place has got,” Dietrich added. “This place is a little hard on tires, but it worked out for us.”
While Dietrich’s prowess showed through traffic in the second half, he was quick to add that the opening laps were critical, otherwise the tire strategy might not have worked out as well as it did.
“I wanted to make sure I got the jump (to the lead), especially with the harder tire,” Dietrich noted. “I knew clean air would help and I wanted to get a little heat in it quicker so I wouldn’t be sliding all the way across the track. A harder tire is a little easier to seal over sometimes, and we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.
“The track cleaned off around the bottom; I don’t know if it rubbered up, but all I know is there was a spot off turn two where the outside fence comes in a little bit … and a couple times I had to be careful not to tag it, but I just got on there and let her eat,” Dietrich continued. “We’re good right now and, hopefully, we can stay good the rest of the week.”
Sunday’s victory catapulted Dietrich to a 43-point lead over Kyle Larson in the PA Speedweek standings with six races remaining, leaving him well in command so far as he pursues a second series title.
But it was a harder right-rear tire that unlocked the gate to victory lane for Dietrich at Selinsgrove — a decision that could go a long way toward sealing that crown for the No. 48 team.
Pennsylvania Speedweek continues Monday night at Lincoln Speedway with a $7,000-to-win, 410 sprint car-only program at the three-eighths-mile oval.
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