Lake City, Michigan (Saturday, July 14th, 2018): The high powered Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models headlined the program this past Saturday at the Merritt Speedway. The Premiere division for “Michigan’s Premiere Dirt Track” took part in a special $2000 to win main event. The packed show also included race action from the Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges.
The first main event of the evening was the make-up Auto Value Pro Stock feature from June 30th. Kevin Newberry and Tim Murphy led the field of cars onto the racing surface to take the green flag. Murphy took the early edge in the event leading after lap 1. Newberry answered right back on lap two taking the lead for himself. He would hold the lead until Murphy would charge his way back to the lead on lap 12. Things would remain the same until the checkered flag waved and a hard charging Marc Super powered his way up to battle and wrestle the lead away from Murphy beating him to the finish line. Super earned his first win of the year in his Super Construction #9 after starting eighth. Newberry would finish in the second spot. Three-time track champion T.J. Erickson, Adam Erickson, and Jacob Flickinger rounded out the top five.
The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges held their respective “Restricted” and “Un-Restricted” feature events. In the restricted division it was Jack Erickson picking up his first feature win of the season in his #28 car. 12-year old Clay Lachcik found his way back to Merritt Speedway victory lane for his 2nd feature win of the year in his Stine Seed #1w. Keeton Cade (Restricted) and Lachcik (Un-Restricted) won the heat races.
John Matthews and Brian Baumgarten rolled onto the speedway leading the field of Diesel Freak B-Modifieds for a 20-lap A-Main. Baumgarten took the lead after the start. On lap four, however the defending track champion Cody Bauer blasted his way past to take over the race lead. That would turn out to be the last move he would have to make as he would lead the rest of the event. This was the first win of the year at Merritt Speedway for the 25-year old driver who calls Farwell, Michigan home, scoring the victory in his Bauer Construction / BMS. Reid Sanders was the runner up. Mike Nelson, Mike Shanteau, and Richie Sutherland completed the top five. Bauer and Nelson were the heat race winners.
The Cadillac News Lightning Sprints were out next for their 20-lap feature event led by Scott Flees and Chuck Erickson. The green flag waved, and the 2015 track champion Mack Erickson blasted off like he was shot out of a cannon as he worked his way up the lead on lap one after starting fifth. Erickson would see Johnny Roberts get within striking distance in the final circuits, but Erickson would maintain his way through it all to pick up the win. Erickson notched his second win of the year in is Chaney Creek Construction #38. Roberts finished second. John Norder, Flees, and Lindsey Erickson capped off the top five. Roberts and Lindsey Erickson scored the heat wins.
The XLT Engineering Four-Cylinder “A” division competed in a 15-lap feature event. Craig Robinson and Russ Carrier kicked things off from the coveted front row starting spot. After the opening lap, the leader was the defending track champion Willard Van Haitsma who charged to the front after starting fifth. However right after that on the second lap it was Danielle Robinson who would have the lead. VanHaitsma would re-gain the top position on lap four. But, it would turn out to be Robinson’s night, as she would patiently wait for her moment, which came on lap 12 when she would pass VanHaitsma in lap traffic and picked up the big win. The 17-year old driver from Mount Pleasant, Michigan won her first of the season in her Tommie Bauer Excavating #11. VanHaitsma was forced to settle for second. 19-year old Cheyanne Emery, 19-year old Stan Sutten, and Carrier made up the rest of the top five. Robinson also won the lone heat race.
This was followed by the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders “B” division which also held its 15-lap A-Main. Ritchie Montgomery and Katie Robinson brought the field of cars to life from the front row as they saw the green flag. Montgomery wasted no time jumping out front with the top spot. Montgomery would look strong in the early going, but on lap 8 Brad Robinson would manage to get by with the race lead. However, when the dust settled, it was Montgomery making the trip down to victory lane after taking the lead on the very final circuit. This was Montgomery’s second win in his #0. He finished just ahead of Katie Robinson who wound up in second. Brad Robinson, Daryl Davis, and 18-year old Trent Matthews finished out the top five. The heats were won by Davis and Bobby Fetters.
It was then time for the $2000 to win special event for the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models. Six-time track champion and three-time UMP DIRTcar Michigan State Champion Eric Spangler and Andrew Terrill brought the field down to chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Spangler pulled away with lead in the early going as everyone else shuffled for position behind him. Spangler commanded throughout the event, and despite some late race cautions he would continue to pick up yet another victory. This was the fourth win of the year for the 49-year old Lake City, Michigan driver behind the wheel of the Forbes Construction and Excavating / Mastersbilt Racecar #27. Terrill finished second. Nick Kurtz, David Mielke (who started 19th), and Alex Hupert rounded out the top five. Spangler, Kurtz, and Terrill won the heats. Kurtz also won the four-car dash. Mielke was the overall fast qualifier with a time of 13.565.
The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds were led out by four-time track champion Brent Banning and 2008 track champion Chad Bauer. Bauer took the advantage in the early stage of the race gaining an excellent distance between himself and the rest of the field. He would lead all the way until lap 18 where he would run into a lapped car and be forced to exit the race early due to heavy damage. That gave the lead to Joe Rokos who led the remainder of the event despite pressure from Paul Johnson. This was the first win of the season for Rokos, the 36-year old from Interlochen, Michigan in his Gilboe’s Lock n Safe / Impressive Racecar #77. Johnson was the second-place driver. Kyle Novak, Jeff Cade, and Caleb Kill made up the top five. Kill and Bauer won the heat races. Rokos also won the four-car dash. Kill was the overall fast qualifier with a 14.825 lap time.
The final main event of the evening belonged to the Auto Value Pro Stock division. It was Adam Erickson and Jacob Flickinger who had the pleasure of leading the field to the green from row number one. Erickson took the lead in the early going. He would hold the spot until lap 7, which would be where he would hit a lap car which caused enough damage for him to make an emergency visit to the pit area. This would give Jacob Flickinger a chance at the lead. He would show the way for the rest of the event despite some heavy pressure from the drivers behind fighting hard for every position they could. But Flickinger hit the correct marks and ended up making the visit to victory lane. The 20-year old from Gaylord, Michigan won his second feature of the season in his Golden Electric #08. Three-time track champion T.J. Erickson finished right behind in second. Rob Westergard, Richard Yaroch, and Nate Murphy capped off the top five. Murphy and Westergard won the preliminary heat races.
The next event for Merritt Speedway will be this Friday and Saturday July 20th-21st for the 30th annual Ed VanDuinen Wood Tic Weekend presented by Diesel Freak. The double header weekend will feature all eight regular divisions competing for huge payouts. The show will be headlined by the $4000 to win Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models, and the $2000 to win Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifeds. Also, on the program will be the $1000 to win for the Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, $400 to win Cadillac News Lighting Sprints, $1000 to win Auto Value Pro Stocks, $600 to win Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, $500 to win XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and the Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges. Friday night will feature the heat races for all the divisions, plus the special dash for cash events. All the A-Mains will be run on Saturday. Pit gates will open at 2:00pm, both nights the racing action is scheduled to start at 7:00pm.