PORT ROYAL, Pa. — It's been his dream for some time now, he just gets to live it everyday. Justin Lawer of Elizabethtown had big dreams of working for a sprint car team. At just 14 years old, he joined his first team and helped out Jeff Halligan.
As soon as he got a taste of the grind, Lawer quickly realized it was something he want to pursue. He met Brian Brown when he was 15 and continued to keep in close contact with blackjack. Lawer bugged Brown constantly about it. Finally, when he was 17, an opportunity fell into his lap.
“Last year, around this time, he said, hey you want to come full-time? We talked for a little bit and here I am," said Lawer.
“Everybody in life deserves a chance and you know, I’m going to give you a chance. I just felt like, that’s all he needed. He knows what he wants to do and on one condition, he has to get the school work done. That’s the most important thing. This thing comes second. School work has to come first," said Brian Brian, driver of the #21 Brian Brown Racing.
Now at 18, Lawer just began his senior year of high school as he goes to school online while balancing being a full-time crew member this entire season and also moving to Missouri in January.
It's a rookie season on the road he won’t soon forget. The team picked up an Outlaw win at Knoxville, a track championship at Knoxville and eight total wins, so far in 2022.
“I’m used to the tracks around here but when you go out to all these places, all over," said Lawer. "Everything’s so much different. All the surfaces are different. You have to do things a lot differently. Make’s it interesting but it’s also fun getting to go to all those places."
The Tuscarora 50 capped off Juniata Fair week. The purse increased to $60,000 as the Pa Posse swept the first two nights. Anthony Macri won Thursday, Lance Dewease won Friday. So, who won Crown Jewel?
Can the newest and only driver to win five Port Royal track championships in a row, Logan Wagner win back-to-back Tuscarora 50s?
Macri looking for his first Tusky 50 title. To improve his starting spot he raced hard in the heat with Brown. They get together and he does a 360 down the backstretch and needed to change a flat left rear. Dewease, also looked to improve his starting spot but pulled off during the heat race.
And, sometimes you just need to be aggressive, Devon Borden and Chase Deitz go at it for the lead but Marks, from fourth, on the first lap. They pinch Borden out of the equation as Marks took the lead and heat race win.
Dylan Cisney led the field to green in the B-Main. Freddie Rahmer and Sye Lynch battled down the backstretch for the final transfer spot and Rahmer would secure it.
What a crowd and what a night at the speed palace. Cale Thomas paced the field but he wouldn't last long upfront. Danny Dietrich quickly took over the lead.
Five laps in, Cory Ellison came to a rolling stop and would not rejoin the field.
Talk about move makers, Macri and Dewease from 19th and 20th to 7th and 8th when the open red comes out with 20 laps down. Marks nearly passed Dietrich for the lead as the caution waved.
Crews and drivers get to work during a 10-minute open red.
When they get back to racing, with 23 laps left, Wagner down low, Dietrich was a little too high for his liking. Grabs the wall and gave the Zemco car the lead.
Two laps later, it's reported Rahmer’s rear end broke, he slid up the track collected Cisney. Then, Zeb Wise has nowhere to go and hits the No. 5. With the wing crushed, Cisney has a difficult time getting out. Wagner and Dietrich jump out of their cars to assist Cisney.
I caught up with Cisney after the race and he was in good spirits. The equipment did its job. He escaped without any burns. He's just a little banged up and sore.
After a delay cleaning up the track and refilling the fire equipment, Macri is once again on the move. Picked off Gerard McIntyre. Then, Marks and Dietrich and hunt began to catch Wagner.
Ten to go after a restart, Wagner took the middle lane. Macri stuck to the bottom and stayed right with him. Before the lap counted, Macri grabbed the lead coming out of four.
Celebrated with a couple of doughnuts as the concrete kid would win his biggest race of his career.
“If you want to be perfectly honest. It was the same exact set up as Thursday. I was acting like a little girl and I was in the lounge pouting and I thought I threw the whole night away. These guys and guys from other crews, obviously busted their butts to get the car back together. Everybody thrashed and it made my job easy. So, I don’t know. This is unreal. I don’t really have words for it right now but we’re going to go celebrate,” Macri.
Don’t celebrate too hard, you still have a few weeks left in the season.
In the non-qualifiers race, it started very interesting with cars all over the place and one nearly in victory lane.
Other than that, the excitement happened on the final lap. Lynch maked a last lap pass on Halligan to take the feature and secure his spot in the 2023 Tuscarora 50.
Can’t end without mentioning the sharks on the Outlaw tour. Jacob Allen held off his teammate Logan Schuchart and defending Gold Cup champ by .050 of a second for the Gold Cup and his biggest win of his career, yet. Man, the Shark Racing guys really kicking into high gear after Knoxville.