Lake City, Michigan (Sunday, July 22nd, 2018): This past weekend was the 30th annual Ed Vanduinen WoodTic presented by Diesel Freak at the fast 1/4 (0.250) mile semi banked dirt oval of Merritt Speedway in Lake City, Michigan. Nearly 170 race cars entered the gates of “Michigan’s Premiere Dirt Track” to compete in what is always one of the most prestigious racing events in the entire wolverine state. The program featured all eight regular divisions, headlined by the High-Powered Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models and Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds. The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges were in attendance as well for two-day race weekend.
The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges held two programs over the weekend. On Friday night Jake Erickson won the Restricted division feature, with Troy Yetter, Lillian Erickson, Autumn Erickson, and Amelia Erickson made up the top five. Jake Erickson also won the heat race. On Sunday evening, Cole Shanteau won his first feature of the season over Jake Erickson, Lillian Erickson, Autumn Erickson, and Amelia Erickson who all finished in the top five. In the Un-Restricted division on Friday night, Bella Erickson won her first main event of the year. Landon Kirt, Nathan Winters, Clay Lachcik, and Bryant Vandermark completed the top five. Winters won the heat. Then, on Sunday Vandermark won the feature (his first at Merritt) Winters, Kirt, Erickson, and Lachcik rounded out the field. Lachcik won the heat.
The Lake City Materials Factory Stocks $600 to win A-Main was led out by Jake Thompson and 16-year old Dale Kaake III. Thompson pulled away with the early race lead for the 20-lap event. Thompson would hold the top position until shortly past the halfway point, when 13-year old Chase Burda gained the lead after charging up from sixth. However, it would not be long until the 2017 track champion Rick Spencer would move up to challenge the young driver, and Spencer would indeed complete the pass and go on from there to get the win. The Whittemore, Michigan notched his fourth win of the year in the Spencer Auto Salvage #M65. Burda took second. Thompson, Tim DeGroft, and 18-year old Brendan Powell finished off the top five. Doug Kittel won the Last Chance race. Spencer and DeGroft won the heat races.
The Cadillac News Lightning Sprints entered the speedway for their $400 to win 20-lap feature event. Dave Hall and Rusty Havens kicked things off from the front row. Havens jumped out front with lead after the first circuit. Havens would lead through the first several laps. John Norder started seventh and began to weave his way through the field and would eventually take over the lead from Havens but would then see the 2015 track champion Mack Erickson in his rear view, Erickson had made his way up from starting 13th. Norder would prevail and pick up the win. The 33-year old from Hudsonville scored his second win of the year in his Biggby Coffee #42. Erickson finished second. Chuck Erickson, Havens, and Scott Flees capped off the top five. Mack Erickson and Lindsey Erickson won the preliminary heat races.
The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds rolled out to go after the special $1000 to win 20-lap A-Main. Scott Smith and 2017 track champion Cody Bauer led the field down to the green. Bauer would emerge as the leader, after a battle with the Smith in the early going. Bauer would maintain his spot in front of the field, but a hard charging Chris Cahoon was hot on Bauer’s trail in the late stages of the race. When the dust settled, Bauer would be the one to go to victory lane. This was the second win at Merritt Speedway this year for the 25-year old driver from Farwell, Michigan. Cahoon had to settle for second. Mike Shanteau, Smith, and Josh Loomis rounded out the top five. Mike Vandermark Jr. and Chad May won the Odd/Even Qualifiers. Kyle Galgoci won the Last chance race. Vandermark, Shanteau, and Bauer picked up the heat wins.
Collin Thirlby and 2008 track champion Chad Bauer brought out the $2000 to win Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modified 35-lap main event. The green flag waved signaling Bauer and Thirlby to begin the drag race into the first corner. After the first several circuits, the four-time track champion David Mielke powered his way to the front of the pack taking over the lead. He would gain a great advantage over the rest of the field and he would go on to victory lane. Mielke, the 26-year old from Gladwin, Michigan picked up his fourth win of the year in his Krompetz Elevators / Rockey by Ruhlman Racecar #87. Bauer, Joe Rokos, Thirlby, and Jacob Poel (who started 19th) completed the top five. Mielke and Rokos won the Odd/Even Qualifiers. Bauer won the four-car dash. The heat races were won by Mielke and Rokos. Four-time track champion Brent Banning was the overall fast qualifier with a time of 14.461.
The high-powered Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models made their way out to square off in the special $4000 to win 50-lap main with Greg Gokey and David Mielke bringing the thundering heard of cars down to chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Mielke took off with the early advantage and led the first several laps. Nick Kurtz would jump up the lead position after getting a great restart after a caution. However two-time American Ethanol Late Model Tour champion Dona Marcoullier would charge by Kurtz to take over the lead. Marcoullier would go on from there to score the victory and big payday. This was the second win of the year for the 34-year old Houghton Lake, Michigan native, behind the wheel of his Northside Towing / XR-1 Rocket #6m. Mielke finished runner up. Kurtz, five-time track champion David Hilliker, and Gokey made up the rest of the top five. Kurtz and Marcoullier won the Odd/Even Qualifiers. Kyle Borgman won the last chance race. Gokey won the four-car dash. Mielke, Travis Stemler, Kurtz, and Mike Vandermark Jr. won the heats. Kurtz was the overall fast qualifier with a lap time of 13.782.
Ashley Vanauken topped the field in the XLT Engineering $500 to win feature event. She started on the front row along with Jeremy McCracken. Vanauken would find her way to the lead and hang on to pick up the win, her first of the season in the Bay Video #27. 17-year old Danielle Robinson finished in the second position. Matt Limron, 19-year old Cheyanne Emery, and John Lowes finished off the top five. McCracken won the heat race.
In the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders “B” main event it was Rylee Knoll notching his first WoodTic win and fourth overall of the year in the Vile Inc. Graphics #07. Knoll worked his way through the field after having to start tenth. 18-year old Trent Matthews took the second place finish. Katie Robinson, Mandie Downey, and Shane Forman rounded out the top five. Knoll also won the heat race.
The final event was the $1000 to win Auto Value Pro Stock 25-lap main event. Chad Spencer and Jacob Flickinger led the field to green flag. Flickinger would lead through the early stages of the event until Nate Murphy would rise to the occasion and make the pass for the top position. Murphy, who calls Coleman, Michigan home picked up the win. Flickinger had to settle for second. Chad Bieri (started 15th), Kevin Newberry, and Spencer completed the top five. Michael Luberda and Murphy scored the heat wins.
The next event for Merritt Speedway will be this Saturday July 28th which will see the return of the American Ethanol Modified Tour presented by Allstar Performance. The Lake Odessa, Michigan based tour will bring some of the best UMP DIRTcar Modified drivers to northern Michigan. They will also be joined by the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models, Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Auto Value Pro Stocks, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, and XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders. The Pit gates will open at 3:00pm. The grandstands will open at 5:00pm, and the show will start promptly at 7:00pm.