PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Cory Eliason rode his California roots and a race car dialed in off the truck to the Tuscarora 50 preliminary night win on Thursday at Port Royal Speedway with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions.
Eliason overtook polesitter Tony Stewart on lap 12 and led 19 of 30 laps to earn a 2.114-second victory over Kerry Madsen. It’s Eliason’s fourth win of the season with the series and third over the last nine races.
“We were fast right out of the gate,” Eliason said. “It was nice we had a baseline. We started with something and we only had to make small adjustments from qualifying to the heat race to the dash to the feature. It’s good. There’s more confidence in my driving because the car isn’t going to handle way differently. It’s going to be relatively the same.”
A rain shower earlier in the day and excessive humidity levels provided loads of grip in the racing surface, as lap times of 15.9 were carried from time trials into heat race action. Madsen started the night with a quick time of 15.841 and Eliason timed third overall, behind Kyle Larson, with a lap of 15.902.
Eliason pounded the top to power from fourth to a 1.150-second heat win over Logan Wagner.
“California mentality,” said Eliason, who finished second in the first dash to Stewart to eventually start third. “I started right in on it and just rode through it.”
After James McFadden and 10th-starting Larson both flipped on separate occasions off the turn-three cushion, before the feature could get one lap in, Stewart set the pace up front and maintained well enough to keep Brian Brown and Eliason in check.
Stewart clung to a one-second lead four laps in before Brown, running third at the time, brought out the caution on lap six. The ensuing five laps went Stewart’s way, but a slip-up off turn four on lap 11 allowed Eliason to set up the race-winning down the frontstretch and into turn one on lap 12.
“We had a really good car,” said Stewart, who managed third. “I had the wing too far back in one and two but no far enough back in three and four. With this crowd and Pennsylvania, if you can run in the top three at Port Royal, it’s a pretty damn good night.”
Eliason raced out to a three-second lead by lap 16 and was never really challenged the rest of the way. He did, however, dodge two close calls. On lap 19, Wagner spun not too far ahead of Eliason and collected Spencer Bayston and Tyler Bear, which covered a lot of ground in turn two.
Eliason had to avoid that and then coming to take the white flag he had to yank his car left at the last minute to miss Brock Zearfoss, who had stopped in turn three with a flat tire.
“I nearly plugged it,” Eliason said. “I was like, ‘Oh no.’”
Eliason staved off Madsen on a green-white-checkered finish to take the $6,000 payday. Madsen, meanwhile, got by Stewart in the late going to take second.
“I was really happy to come in here, get quick time and a [second place] finish,” Madsen said. “A long weekend yet [to come]. We’ll keep tuning our car and hopefully get ourselves in a good position for Saturday night.”
Gio Scelzi and Tyler Courtney completed the top five. Aaron Reutzel, Ian Madsen (from 24th), Anthony Macri (from 16th), Brent Marks (from 23rd) and Lance Dewease rounded out the top 10.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 26-Cory Eliason ; 2. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 3. 14-Tony Stewart ; 4. 18-Gio Scelzi ; 5. 7BC-Tyler Courtney ; 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 7. 17-Ian Madsen ; 8. 39M-Anthony Macri ; 9. 5-Brent Marks ; 10. 69K-Lance Dewease ; 11. 13-Paul McMahan ; 12. 5C-Dylan Cisney ; 13. 70-Cale Thomas ; 14. 11T-TJ Stutts ; 15. 25-Tyler Bear ; 16. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 17. 24-Rico Abreu ; 18. 72-Shane Stewart ; 19. 1-Logan Wagner ; 20. 39-Spencer Bayston ; 21. 24W-Lucas Wolfe ; 22. 21B-Christopher Bell ; 23. 21-Brian Brown ; 24. 57-Kyle Larson ; 25. 9-James McFadden ; 26. 51-Freddie Rahmer  Lap Leaders: Tony Stewart (1-12), Cory Eliason (13-30)