Results for Saturday June 9, 2018.
Spangler & Irwin Dominate, Thirlby Wins at Checkered
Lake City, Michigan (Saturday, June 9th, 2018): The Lane Automotive Michigan Traditional Sprint series invaded the grounds of the Merritt Speedway this past Saturday evening. The Davison, Michigan based series brought in some of the best drivers of wingless sprint cars for their first and only visit to the 1/4 (0.250) mile dirt oval located just outside of Lake City, Michigan. There were six regular divisions in attendance as well including; the Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models, Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and the Allstar Performance Mini Wedges.
The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges kicked off the nights main events. First was the “Restricted” division which saw Pierson DeShano go to victory lane. Trevor Epplett, Jake Erickson, Keeton Cade, and Autumn Erickson completed the rest of the top five. Cameron Hendrickson won the “Un-Restricted” division of Mini-Wedges finishing ahead of Bryant Vandermark, Nathan Winters, Hunter Lange, and Brennan DeShano. Jake Erickson (Restricted), and Clay Lachcik (Un-Restricted) won the heat races.
The Cadillac News Lightning Sprints made their way onto the racing surface for a 20-lap A-Main feature event. Chuck Erickson and Dave Hall brought the field to chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Erickson jumped out to the early lead. However, on lap 2 Hall would make the pass to take the top spot away. Nothing would change until lap 11, where 2015 track champion Mack Erickson would work his way to the front of the field, and hang on from there to pick up the win.
This was Erickson’s first win of the season at Merritt in his Chaney Creek Construction #38. John Norder finished second. Scott Flees, Lindsey Erickson, and Bridgette Andras rounded out the top five. Norder, and Mack Erickson won the heat races.
The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds made their way out for their 25-lap feature event led by 4-time track champion Brent Banning and 2008 track champion Chad Bauer. Bauer would the lead after the drop of the green, and he would pull out to very substation lead. But there would be a late race caution which would see the 4-time track champion David Mielke take the lead away on lap 23 after starting 15th. Mielke saw the checkered flag as he exited the final turn, but he was challenged by a hard charging Collin Thirlby who went side by side with Mielke at the finish line and it was Thirlby getting the win, beating Mielke by 0.022 seconds.
This was first feature win of the year for the driver from Traverse City, Michigan, behind the wheel of his Thirlby Automotive / Diamond by CTR #47. Mielke settled for second. Bauer, Joe Rokos, and Dave Baker finished off the top five. Caleb Kill, Rokos, and Banning won the heats. Rokos also won the four-car dash. Mielke was the overall fast qualifier with a lap time of 14.346.
The feature event for the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models was next. Six-time track champion Eric Spangler and five-time track champion David Hilliker brought out the 20-car field for the 30-lap main event. Spangler jumped out with the advantage in the early going. The rest of the field would try, but there was no stopping Spangler as he would led every single lap in the caution free race.
Spangler picked up his second straight feature win at Merritt Speedway, behind the wheel of his Forbes Construction and Excavating / Mastersbilt Racecar #27. Steve Hilliker would finish in second. Two-time Tri-City Motor Speedway track champion Andrew Terrill, Two-time Sunoco American Late Model Series Champion Brandon Thirlby, and Greg Gokey capped off the top five. The heats were won by Gokey, David Mielke, Nick Kurtz, and Thirlby. Derrick Hilliker won the last chance race, Gokey also won the four-car dash. Kurtz was the overall fast qualifier with a lap time of 13.269.
Steve Irwin and Mike Burkin led out the field for the Lane Automotive Michigan Traditional Sprints 25-lap feature event presented by Allstar Performance. Irwin wasted little time in jumping out in front of the rest of the field. He would manage to hang onto the top position throughout the several cautions that happened throughout, but Irwin kept the lead all the way through until the end eventually getting the win. Mike Galadja Joe Bares, Joe Irwin, and Travis Lacombe rounded out the top five. Steve Irwin, Jay Steinbach, Burkin, and Galadja won the preliminary heat races.
The XLT Engineering Four-Cylinder “A” division rolled out next for a 15-lap feature event. Aaron Boyd and Craig Robinson started on the front row. Boyd took off with the early lead. He would remain there until on lap 3, the defending track champion Willard VanHaitsma maneuvered his way passed Boyd to take over the lead. He would never look back from there as he would be the first to checkered flag.
VanHaitsma, the native of Cadillac, Michigan earned his third win of the year in his J&H Salvage #00. 17-year old Danielle Robinson was the runner up. 18-year old Gabe Geselman, 19-year old Cheyanne Emery, and Russ Carrier completed the top five. Robinson was the winner of the heat race.
Next was the 15-lap main event for the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinder “B” division. Shane Forman and Jake Bell led the field down to the green flag. Once the race began, it was Ritchie Montgomery pulling out in front of everyone else. He would lead throughout the event, until on the final he would spin in the final turn, surrendering the lead and the win to 18-year Trent Matthews.
This was the first win of the year for Matthews, the native of Houghton Lake, Michigan driving his Houghton Lake Automotive #11m. Ty Papkey was the second place finisher. Katie Robinson, Bell, and Montgomery made up the rest of the top five. Rylee Knoll was the heat race winner.
The final race of the night was the 20-lap feature event for the Auto Value Pro Stocks. Doug Kittle and Josh Poley brought the field to the green flag. Tim Murphy would lead in the early going. However, the race was plagued by several caution within the first 6 laps. That allowed Nate Jones to work his to the front of the field after lap 5. He would hold the top spot until lap 16 where the defending track champion T.J. Erickson would fight his way pass Jones to take the lead away. Erickson would go on from there to pick up the win.
Erickson, who is a native of Traverse City, Michigan won his second feature of the season behind the wheel of his Culvers sponsored #19. He finished just ahead of Nate Jones who was forced to settle for second. John Robbins, Nate Murphy, and Jeremy Spencer rounded out the top five. Dale Kaake Jr., Nate Murphy, Jones, and Tim Tabaczka won the heat races. Spencer won the last chance race.
Merritt Speedway’s next event will be next Saturday June 16th for “Schools out Night”. It will be a full show headlined by the Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models and Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds. The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, and the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders will all compete as well. Plus, Merritt will welcome the M.O.R.A. mini outlaws. The Pit Gates will open at 3:00pm, Grandstands will open at 5:00pm. Qualifying for Late Models, and UMP Modifieds will begin at 5:45pm. Then after pre-race ceremonies, Invocation / National Anthem, The green flag is set to fly at 7:00pm.