Cory Eliason Strikes First During Night One of Tuscarora 50 Opener with All Star Circuit of Champions

By- Justin Snyder

Port Royal Speedway- PORT ROYAL, Pa. (Sept 10, 2020)- Cory Eliason kicked off the 2020 racing season at Port Royal Speedway with a victory during opening day back in March. If Thursday night’s performance is a sign of things to come, he just may end the season in victory lane at the Juniata County oval as well.

Eliason bested Australian invader Kerry Madsen and the legendary Tony Stewart to pick up the Ollie’s Bargain Outlets All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 night one opener presented by Ted Reitz of the 53rd Annual Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal Speedway during the 166th Annual Juniata County Fair.

The win was worth $6000 and came on an incredibly fast racetrack that saw a handful of drivers get upside down and suffer flat tires throughout the duration of the feature.

“They don’t call this place ‘The Speed Palace’ for nothing,” exclaimed Eliason. “It was a blast here tonight and definitely a lot different than what we saw on Monday during the Labor Day Classic. The kind of track we had here tonight is kind of my forte and we were fast right out the gate tonight.”

After a pair of red flag incidents for James McFadden and Kyle Larson halted racing action without the completion of a lap, Stewart and weekend invader Brian Brown led the field to the green flag, with Stewart getting the jump and leading lap one.

Eliason, who started third, dropped to fourth on the opening lap but he quickly regained the position a lap later by getting around Madsen and he slipped under Brown entering turn 1 on lap three to move into the runner-up position.

By lap five, Eliason was all over the rear bumper of Stewart and two laps later he shot under underneath the leader to take the point entering turn one. However, the pass was negated when third place running Brown blew a right-rear tire and got into the outside guardrail to bring out the caution.

On the return to green, Stewart got a great restart and jumped back out to the lead but Eliason quickly showed he was to be denied. On lap 10 he closed to the bumper of Stewart again and the two raced side by side heading to the flag stand two laps later with Stewart holding the narrowest of advantages.

However, the momentum was enough for Eliason to pounce as he slid under Stewart to take the top spot and lead lap 13.

“You could get a good run and roll the bottom and that curb up top in three and four was very much like Tulare in California and that’s where I could make up my ground early,” said Eliason. “Tony kind of was showing me the way out there in three and four and I knew I had to lock it in and get him where I could as soon as possible.”

Eliason hit lap traffic at the halfway point and with a commanding lead of 2.345 seconds, he had nearly got tangled up in a wreck when track point leader Logan Wagner got into the fence exiting turn 2 and got upside down. He collected Spencer Bayston and Tyler Bear, but Eliason was able to evade any contact to stay in front.

On the restart, Stewart showed his nose through the middle in turn’s one and two, but Eliason was just too strong as he blasted off the cushion to lead the way once again.

Seventh place start Gio Scelzi had found something on the top of the speedway and after cracking the top-five earlier, he moved past Lance Dewease for fourth with 11 laps remaining. Three laps later Rico Abreu was bitten by the tire bug though as he slowed with a flat left-rear to bring out the caution.

Stewart tried the bottom again on the restart, but Eliason again powered off the top of the track to blast out to a hefty advantage. It looked like he was going to coast home to a commanding victory, but Brock Zearfoss slowed after he blew a right-rear tire in turn three and nearly collected Eliason as he was coming around for the checkered flag.

“You know I thought we were going to lose one there as I came around and saw Brock right in the middle of the track and I had nowhere to go,” said Eliason. “I just turned the car sideways and hoped there’d be enough room to get by and thankfully there was.”

The late caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, but Eliason was not going to be denied as he cruised home to the checkered flag by a 2.114 second advantage. Madsen was able to slide past Stewart for second on the white flag lap, while Scelzi and Tyler Courtney filled out the top-five.

Aaron Reutzel, Ian Madsen, Anthony Macri, Brent Marks and Dewease made up the top-10. Ian Madsen earned $500 as the hard charger (+17) courtesy of Valley Supply Inc.

“We worked on a few things tonight, but nothing major,” said Eliason. “Obviously our main focus is Saturday night as that’s where the big money Is on the line, but this is a nice way to start the weekend and I’m looking forward to two more nights here at Port Royal.”

For Madsen, he knew in clean air Eliason would be hard to catch and was just happy to escape night one with a podium finish. He also set quick time earlier in the night and received $200 courtesy of Packer’s Concessions.

“I don’t know that we could’ve done much different as Cory was just really good and tough to pass,” said Madsen. “I was just kind of biding my time out there and luckily I got a late restart to get by Tony and I just needed more time and help if we wanted to get Cory.”

Heat races were won by Brown, Eliason, Dewease, Stewart and Christopher Bell, while Stewart and Brown won dash races. Freddie Rahmer picked up the B-main victory.

All Star Results- 1. Cory A-Main (30 Laps)1. 26-Cory Eliason [3]; 2. 2M-Kerry Madsen [4]; 3. 14-Tony Stewart [1]; 4. 18-Gio Scelzi [7]; 5. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [6]; 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel [11]; 7. 17-Ian Madsen [24]; 8. 39M-Anthony Macri [16]; 9. 5-Brent Marks [21]; 10. 69K-Lance Dewease [5]; 11. 13-Paul McMahan [13]; 12. 5C-Dylan Cisney [23]; 13. 70-Cale Thomas [20]; 14. 11T-TJ Stutts [18]; 15. 25-Tyler Bear [26]; 16. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [19]; 17. 24-Rico Abreu [8]; 18. 72-Shane Stewart [17]; 19. 1-Logan Wagner [14]; 20. 39-Spencer Bayston [22]; 21. 24W-Lucas Wolfe [15]; 22. 21B-Christopher Bell [9]; 23. 21-Brian Brown [2]; 24. 57-Kyle Larson [10]; 25. 9-James McFadden [12]; 26. 51-Freddie Rahmer [25]

Lap Leaders: Tony Stewart (1-12), Cory Eliason (13-30)

Non Qualifiers- Kyle Reinhardt, Brian Montieth, Skylar Gee, Sye Lynch, AJ Flick, Kyle Smith, Tony Fiore, Robbie Kendall, Michael Walter, Danny Dietrich, Mike Wagner,Tyler Walton, Kyle Moody, Jared Esh, Greg Wilson, Nicole Bower, Brett Michalski, Ryan Smith