Records Another Top-5 in Makeup Feature On the Same Night
Port Royal, PA – June 1, 2022
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Jeremy Zarfos Photography
Jeff Halligan and the Risser Motorsports team have been waiting for the Weikert Memorial at Port Royal Speedway since the season began. Although they have performed well thus far, they felt things were just a tick off. They decided to make the trip to Selinsgrove Speedway to try some things and get one more race under their belt before the big weekend.
May 26: Thursday Thunder, Selinsgrove Speedway / Selinsgrove, PA
(20 cars, Qualifying 3rd Group 2, Heat 5th, A-main 11th)
Halligan’s No.45 was one of 20 cars pit-side Thursday night at Selinsgrove Speedway. Following qualifying, the field was divided into two 8-lap heat races to determine the starting lineup for the A-main. The heats line-ups were set straight-up by their qualifying times.
Halligan timed 3rd quickest in Group 2 and thus started inside row two of the second heat. A stumble on the start cost the Ephrata, PA driver two spots. He was able to settle into a rhythm but wasn’t able to recapture the lost positions and rode home 5th.
The 25-lap main event was run at a blistering pace set by Gio Scelzi. Scelzi took command from the start. Meanwhile, 10th starting Jeff Halligan was battling to hang on to a top-10 spot. The race remained green and went the entire distance, setting a new 25-lap track record of 7:12:535 for Scelzi. Halligan held on for an 11th place finish.
Following their first trip of the year to Selinsgrove Speedway, the team turned their attention to one of the marquee events that is circled on their calendar each year: The Bob Weikert Memorial at Port Royal Speedway.
Weikert Memorial Format
Although the lucrative event is sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions, the Weikert Memorial uses its own, unique format. Full details are included below, but here are the key points for the car counts at Port Royal Speedway’s event:
- single flight time trials, order determined by pill draw
- points awarded following time trials
- 10-lap heats, top 8 in each starting lineup is inverted 8 from time trials
- passing points awarded following heats
- top 10 in points after qualifying participate in a redraw for their A-main starting spot
- 11-20 in points after qualifying line up in A-main heads up by points
- remaining drivers race the B-main with the top 4 finishers tagging the back of 30-lap A-main
May 28: Weikert Memorial Night 1, Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
(41 cars, Qualifying 30th, Heat 1st, B-main 3rd, A-main 17th)
The Risser Motorsports / TheTreeCenter.com / Victory Auto of Lewistown / EMM Sales & Service / Jake’s Golf Carts, No.45 signed in along with 40 other cars at ‘The Speed Palace’ for night number one of the Bob Weikert Memorial.
Jeff Halligan was the 22nd driver to hit the track for time trials. His best lap of 17.073 was a tick slower than the team was hoping for and it landed him 30th overall in the results.
The invert for the 10-lap heat races put Halligan on the pole of the second heat. Jeff led flag-to-flag, winning the heat over Chris Windom by 0.533 seconds. Normally a heat win would be a ticket to the show but in the Weikert format it simply earns points.
Halligan’s point total following the heat was good, but not good enough to lock into the A-main. Instead, he started 6th in the 12-lap B-main and would have to race his way in by finishing in the top four.
Halligan fought hard to get into the 4th spot by lap 7, then grabbed some insurance by capturing 3rd on a lap 9 restart. The 3rd place finish gave the Risser Motorsports entry the 23rd starting spot in the night one finale.
In the 30-lap feature event, Halligan wasn’t able to make gains during the first half of the event but eventually slid his way inside the top-20 to a 17th place finish.
Following racing action, Halligan was awarded the Carquest Perseverance award by the All Star Circuit of Champions.
May 29: Weikert Memorial Night 2, Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
(44 cars, Qualifying 14th, Heat 1st, A-main 3rd)
Jeff and the Risser Motorsports team made the 90 minute trip back to their shop after Saturday night’s race and made the decision to change engines. An engine change would mean going into Sunday’s race with a bit of an unknown, but they knew they needed to take the risk because the one they had in was just off somehow. That was a mystery they would have to investigate further later, but for now the goal was to make sure they gave themselves their best shot at winning the Weikert Memorial.
The car count increased to 44 for Sunday’s show but the format remained the same. Two things are required for a team to position itself near the front of the main event field with a shot at winning: a qualifying lap in the top third of the field and passing multiple cars in the heat race. Any team who can even do one of those two things puts themselves in a decent position for the night.
Halligan received some early feedback on the engine change by way of his qualifying laps. He was the 41st car to hit the track. A dirt track dries out and loses grip as laps are run on it, so going out late in a single-flight time trial format is usually a prescription for a poor lap. It can be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
Not this time. Halligan ripped off a lap of 16.933, ranking him 14th quickest overall. Goal number one, complete.
The next step would be to move forward from his 5th starting spot in heat number two. Halfway through the 10-lap race, Halligan had gained one spot and sat in 4th. Then he caught fire, figuratively.
Halligan stormed to the lead on lap seven and held on for the win, earning the maximum points available to him. Goal number two, complete.
Halligan was now 4th in the overall point standings for the night and was locked into the redraw for one of the top-10 starting spots in the prestigious Weikert Memorial main event.
“We just bought this motor from (Mark) Coldren on Wednesday and put it in at 4am this morning.“, Halligan shared during his post-race interview on FloRacing.
It had been a late night following Saturday’s race. Halligan and the Risser Motorsports team traveled 90 minutes back to their shop, washed the car and changed the engine before getting some much needed rest for day number two of the Weikert Memorial.
The redraw turned up pill number five for Halligan, putting him inside row three for the 30-lap race. In the early going, he slipped back to 6th, then recovered to the 5th spot. He held that spot for nearly 20 laps. A caution with five laps remaining provided an opportunity.
In what seems to be becoming his trademark this season, Halligan saved his best for the closing laps. He restarted 5th with five laps remaining and drove into 4th one lap later.
Carrying a ton of momentum, Halligan dove under Tyler Courtney to claim 3rd with three laps remaining. With a head of steam, Halligan pulled alongside Brent Marks for 2nd but couldn’t get clear of the No.19m and had to fall in line behind him for one final shot. He was unable to mount another challenge and finished 0.807 seconds behind Marks on the podium in 3rd spot.
In honor of Bob Weikert, Jackson Motorplex (MN) and Huset’s Speedway (SD) had added $5,000 to the prize money for both the 2nd and 3rd place finishers, giving Jeff Halligan and the Risser Motorsports team an $8,300 pay day.
“I went for clean air in the middle on that restart and started making up ground, so I thought I’m just gonna stay here.”, Halligan explained of the late surge. “I have to thank Panther Chassis. This is kind of a new car in 410 racing. We’ve been working on it trying to get it a little better and I think we’re getting there.”
“All year long we’ve been really good late in races, which you obviously want to do, but we need to figure out how to get a little better earlier in the night too.“, Halligan said.
May 29: Completion of May 21st A-main, Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
(34 cars, Qualifying 3rd Group C, Heat 2n, A-main 4th)
The May 21st feature event that was suspended with 8 laps complete, was resumed following the Weikert Memorial. Jeff Halligan restarted 4th behind Justin Whittall, Brent Marks and Logan Wagner.
The final 17 laps were relatively uneventful. Halligan held his ground but was unable to advance. He went on to finish 4th behind Logan Wagner, Brent Marks, and Dylan Cisney, logging a second top-5 finish in the span of just over an hour.
Halligan and the Risser Motorsports team will be back at Port Royal Speedway on Saturday night, June 4th looking to grab their first checkered flag of 2022.
15 races, 0 wins, 5 top 5’s, 8 top 10’s, 10 top 15’s
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