PORT ROYAL - "The Demon," Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif., possessed Port Royal Speedway Saturday night when he claimed the 2012 USAC sprint car Eastern Storm series finale in the circuits' first-ever visit to the historic oval.
In the 20-lap ARDC Midget feature, Trevor Kobylarz wired the field for the victory while Derrick Garman blazed to the front in the Miller's Auto Parts pro stock main to claim his second win of the year at the track in the division.
Polesitter Darren Hagen of Riverside, Calif., set the pace when action began in the 30-lap USAC Eastern Storm Finale, racing to stay ahead of third starter Gardner and second-starter Jon Stanbrough of Avon, Ind.
Sentinel photo by TIM SHUMAKER
Damion ‘The Demon’ Gardner races around turn four Saturday at Port Royal Speeday in the first visit to the track by the USAC?tour.
Hagen cruised around the cushion of the speedway lap after lap with Gardner gaining at times on his lead, especially after the pacesetter entered the backmarkers with eight laps down.
Fourth starter Tracy Hines powered into third two laps shy of the halfway point but would soon lose the spot to USAC veteran Dave Darland who began from the outside of the fourth row.
The front three cars of Hagen, Gardner and Darland then began darting in and out of traffic while working the high cushion all the time staying within a half-straightaway of one another and keeping fans in suspense about what would happen next.
And then Hagen's luck came to an end when he misjudged his entry into the third corner on the high cushion with 10 laps to go, slowing the non-stop pace he had been setting.
After loosing the handle on the car, Hagen spun in front of the field and nearly collected the eventual winner who made contact, stalled out and got a quick hit from Darland that re-fired his car in the blink of an eye allowing him to keep rolling into the fourth corner.
With Hagen's night done, Darland was ready to exorcise the Demon from Port Royal on the restart and he gave it a shot deep in the first turn only to come up short in an attempt at a slider.
Darland, of Lincoln, Ind., regrouped and took another shot at Gardner with about five to go only to smack the outside frontstretch wall and fall backwards.
After that, Gardner drove his Pace Lighting No. 71 to the $6,000 win over Hines who capitalized on Darland's slip to take over second.
Stanbrough crossed the line third followed by 14th starter Robert Ballou of Rocklin, Calif., and Darland.
Ballou earned the Hard Charger Award worth $100.
Sixth through 10th went to Brian Clauson, Noblesville, Ind.; Hunter Schuerenerg, Sikeston, Mo.; Levi Jones, Olney, Ill.; Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, Ariz.; and Chris Windom, Canton, Ill.
Mark Smith claimed at $175 bonus for finishing 11th as posted by the oval's push truck drivers for the highest finishing local driver in the event with accumulated speedway points this season.
Brian Clauson clinched the 2012 USAC Eastern Storm series title with his run, worth $1,000. He also took two victories in the series, at Grandview and New Egypt Speedways. Windom took the Eastern Storm win at Big Diamond.
Clauson set fast time over the 23-car field in qualifications with a lap of 19.080 seconds.
Heats went to Jones, Darland and C.J. Leary.
Kobylarz of Birdsboro started fifth in the ARDC Midget main and took the lead on the first circuit. The race was red-flagged for flips in the first turn with two laps completed. The incident involved Steve Buckwalter, Dave Shirk and Drew Heistand.
Alex Bright raced into second and finished there after starting seventh with Bruce Buckwalter Jr. finishing third followed by P.J. Garguilo and Brett Arndt.
Heats went to Kobylarz and Tim Buckwalter.
Garman started deep in 11th spot in the 15-lap pro stock main and methodically worked his way forward to take the lead after a tight race with John Heane. Heane had taken over from A.J. Stroup on the second lap and tried to run to his second win of the year.
But after Garman moved into second with five laps to go, he applied heavy pressure to Heane's machine before taking control with three laps to go.
It was his second win of the season as well.
Heane crossed second followed by Nate Fisher, Shaun Miller and Harold Ranck Jr. Heats went to Heane and Fisher.