PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Dirt racing legend Rick Eckert was fairly disappointed in himself after running one groove too low in his qualifying session Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway.
He kept a mental note, made a few adjustments, and was smooth sailing once the feature rolled around. Eckert, wheeling his cherry red No. 7 Super Late Model, led all 30 laps in the $3,000-to-win Northeast Ultimate Super Late Model Series in the first night of Bob Weikert Memorial Weekend at Port Royal Speedway and picked up his first win of the 2018 season.
Eckert started second and took the lead for good with a pass on the high side by pole-sitter Jason Covert on Turn 2 of Lap 1. The York, Pa., native bested Hall of Famer Gary Stuhler by 4.766 seconds. Dylan Yoder, Jeff Rine and nine-time World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz rounded out the top five.
“We’ve been OK, but not great. [Saturday], our car was really nice all night long,” Eckert, 53, said. “We made the right changes on it and it was nice all night long.”
Eckert is a full-time competitor in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series, but since the circuit is off Saturday and Sunday, the Pennsylvania native decided to make the trek an hour west of his residence. He’s currently fifth in the WoO standings with one top-five and seven top-10’s in 10 races.
The 53-year-old was never challenged the whole night and fended off two restarts on Lap 2 and Lap 18. Unlike NASCAR, dirt racing only has a one-way transponder. And since Eckert has just one crew member — a tire-changer on standby in the pits — there’s no one relaying him hand signals on his positioning.
“The problem is during the race, you don’t know that [you’re leading by a lot],” Eckert said. “Where the pit stands is, it’s dark. You can’t see your crew guys, you know what I mean? Normally when we run a race here, our guys are in the infield. … We only have one crew guy.”
Covert, Jared Miley, Dan Stone, Kyle Lee and Ross Robinson comprised the Top 10.
This story will be updated.