Merritt Speedway Awards Eight Feature Winners
Lake City, Michigan (Saturday June 16, 2018): Merritt Speedway hosted another stellar night of dirt track racing which awarded eight feature race winners. The long-awaited summer temperatures greeted the fans that made their way out to the fast 1/4 (0.250) mile dirt oval located on M-55 in between Lake City and Houghton Lake. The show was headlined once again by the High-Powered Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models and Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds. The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges all competed as well. Plus the speedway played host to the M.O.R.A. Mini Outlaws who made their first of two visits this season.
The Allstar Performance Mini Wedges kicked off the main events of the evening with 10 lap features for both the “Restricted” and “Un-Restricted” divisions. Trevor Epplett won the “Restricted” division feature finishing ahead of Dillion Liggett, 9-Year Old Claire Krajniak, Cole Shanteau, and 6-Year Old Peighton Crawford. Meanwhile, in the “Un-Restricted” division it was 13-year old Nathan Winters winning the feature over 12-year old Clay Lachcik, and 9-Year old Marshall Krajniak. Liggett and Lachcik won their respective heat races.
The M.O.R.A. Mini Outlaws took to the speedway for a 15-lap feature event. Freddy Krueger and Doug Roush brought the field to the green flag. Krueger took the early race lead. However on lap 2 it would be Roush taking the lead away. He would hold the top spot until lap 4 when it would be Dave Roush racing to the front of the field and taking the lead away. He would hang on from there to pick up the win. Roush also won the heat race.
Aaron Spearling and Ted Owens would lead out the 15-lap Main for the Lake City Materials Factory Stocks. It would be 13-year old Chase Burda who wasted no time jumping out in front of everyone else and leading the first circuit. The young driver would maintain control until lap 6. That was when the 2017 track champion Rick Spencer made the pass to take the lead away. That would turn out to be all the veteran would need to accomplish, as he went on from there to be the first to the checkered flag.
This was the second win of the year for the driver who calls Whittemore, Michigan home, driving his Spencer’s Auto Salvage #M65. Burda settled for second. 18-year old Brendan Powell, Will Stanley, and Spearling rounded out the top five. Spencer and 15-year old Bryan Cook won the preliminary heat races.
The Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models were out next for a 30-lap feature event. 6-time track champion Eric Spangler and Kory Maurice led everyone down to chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Spangler did not hesitate to jump out with the early race advantage. He would end up leading every lap of the caution free race.
Spangler, the 49-year old native of Lake City, Michigan scored his third win of the season at Merritt Speedway, in his Forbes Construction and Excavating / Mastersbilt Racecar #27. Nick Kurtz would be the runner up finisher. David Mielke, 2015-American Ethanol Late Model Tour Champion Rich Neiser, and Steve Hilliker capped off the top five. The heats were won by Kurtz, Spangler, and Mielke. Mielke also won the four-car dash. Kurtz was the overall fast qualifier with a time of 13.726.
Next was the 20-lap feature race for the Diesel Freak B-Modifieds division. They were led out by Nate Wilbur and Mike Shanteau. When the green flag waved, it Shanteau taking the early lead while everyone else battled for position behind him. Shanteau held the top position throughout much of the event, but he was challenged on lap 14 by the charging car driven by Mike Epplett who powered his way by for the lead. When the checkered flag waved, it was Epplett making the trip to victory lane.
This was the first win of the year at Merritt Speedway for the Muskegon, Michigan native who finished first in his #99. Shanteau finished second. Reid Sanders, 2017 track champion Cody Bauer, and Scott Payton completed the top five finishers. Scott Smith, Bauer, Epplett, and Dan Wierman won the heat races. The Last Chance race was won by Bill Delonge.
The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds hit the speedway for what was a 25-lap main event. Joe Rokos and 2008-track champion Chad Bauer started on the front row. Rokos took the early lead from the start. However, on lap 6 the 4-time track champion David Mielke who started seventh made the pass taking over the race lead. He would gain a commanding lead over the rest of the field and picked up the win.
The 26-year old from Gladwin, Michigan earned his second win of the year in the Krompetz Elevators / Rocket by Ruhlman #87. Bauer, Jeff Erickson Jr., Rokos, and Paul Johnson made up the rest of the top five. Rokos, and Mielke were the heat winners. Mielke won the four-car dash, and was also the fast qualifier overall with a lap time of 14.176.
John Lowes and Russ Carrier led out the next feature event, which was courtesy of the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinder “A” Division who went 15 laps. Jeremy McCracken took the lead in the early going. He would do a good job of holding the lead, but in the closing laps the defending track champion Willard VanHatisma would try to take the lead away. But there was no stopping McCracken as he would be able to hang on through it all and was indeed the first to the checkered flag.
McCracken, the native of Lake, Michigan picked up his first feature win of the year in the McCracken Racing #19. He finished ahead of VanHaitsma who was second. 18-year old Stan Sutten, 17-year old Danielle Robinson, and Matt Bouschor rounded out the top five. Robinson also won the heat race.
The Final main event of the night was the 15-lap feature for the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders “B” division. Rookie Mandie Downey and Ty Papkey kicked things off from the front row. Downey led the opening lap, but was soon challenged by Ritchie Montgomery who take the lead over on lap 2. He would lead until lap 10 where he would hit a safety tire causing him to spin, and brought out the caution flag. This would surrender the lead to 18-year old Trent Matthews who led from there all the way until the end.
Matthews from Houghton Lake, Michigan picked up his first feature win of the season. Rylee Knoll finished just behind in second. Katie Robinson, Zachary Swarts, and Downey rounded out the top five. Matthews and Montgomery were the winners of the heat races.
The next event for Merritt Speedway will be This Saturday June 23rd. The racing program will be headlined by the second visit from the American Ethanol Modified Tour presented by Allstar Performance for their second visit, bringing some of the best UMP DIRTcar Modified drivers in the Midwest to Northern Michigan. Also on the program will be the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models, Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, and the Allstar Performance Mini Wedges.