Lake City, Michigan (Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018): The grandstands of the Merritt Speedway were packed with a stellar crowd to celebrate the Independence Day holiday with enjoying a night filled with fireworks and lots of passing on the fast 1/4 (0.250) mile dirt oval located on M-55 east of Lake City and west of Houghton Lake. The show was headlined by an unprecedented $5000 to win race for the Diesel Freak B-Modifieds presented by Quarter Master. The specials didn’t stop there as the high-powered Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models competed for a special $2500 to win, and the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders raced for a $600 to win prize. The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges were all in action as well.
The night’s main events began like usual with the running of the Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges for both the “restricted” and “unrestricted” divisions. Dillon Liggett conquered the field in the restricted division finishing ahead of Lillian Erickson, Claire Krajniak, Cole Shanteau, and Pierson DeShano who made up the top five. In the Un-restricted division, Brennan DeShano made the trip to victory lane as the winner. Kyron DeShano was second. Marshall Krajniak, Jeff Gohr, and Bryant VanderMark were the top five. Shanteau (restricted) and 12-year old Clay Lachcik (un-restricted) won their respective heat races.
The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds rolled out onto the speedway for the big $5000 to win 35-lap A-main presented by Quarter Master. Greg Smith of Montague and 15-year old Austin Harnick of Clare led the 24-car field down to chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Smith jumped out with the early edge. He would pull out to a strong lead. However on lap 10 he would see Scott Payton charge to the front of the field and take over the lead. Smith would answer back on lap 12 and take command of the top spot. But after a late race caution with 4 laps remaining, Payton would power his way past on the restart and he would go on to score the big payday.
For Payton, the 36-year old native of Gaylord, Michigan this was his second feature win of the year in his Henkels and McCoy contractors / Longhorn Chassis #711. Defending track champion Cody Bauer was the runner up. Myron DeYoung, Chance Allen, and Jacob Flickinger rounded out the top five. Mickey Carman Jr., Bauer, Allen, Harnick, and Payton won the preliminary heat races. John Taylor and Terry Shank won the two last chance b-mains.
The 20-lap Auto Value Pro Stock feature event was out next with Joe Fisher and Kevin Newberry leading the way down to the green. Newberry wasted no time in taking the lead after the drag race into the first corner. On lap 3 it was Fisher who found himself in the lead. Then on lap 5 Jacob Flickinger would make the pass for the lead spot after starting fifth. Flickinger would see some great competition in the late stages of the race from Rick Yaroch, and the defending track champion T.J. Erickson, but when the dust settled it was Flickinger getting to make the trip to victory lane.
This was the 20-year old from Gaylord, Michigan’s first win of the season in his Golden Electric #08. Yaroch finished second. Erickson, Rob Westergard, and Marc Super completed the top five. The heat wins went to Westergard and Flickinger.
Andrew Terrill and 6-time track champion Eric Spangler led out the 35-lap $2500 to win main event for the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models. Once the green flag was out Terrill jumped out with the early race advantage as everyone else shuffled for position behind him. Terrill would maintain his possession of the lead until lap 12 when Spangler made the pass by him while the two battled in lap traffic, but Terrill would retaliate with a pass of his own on Spangler to take the lead back on lap 13. Terrill would go on from there to pick up the victory.
Terrill the 28-year old from Sanford, Michigan picked up his first win of the year at Merritt Speedway in his Cieslinski Electric / Rocket Chassis #4t. His finished ahead of Nick Kurtz who took second. Rich Neiser finished third after starting seventh, Spangler, and David Mielke finished off the top five. Thirlby, Mielke, and Greg Gokey scored the heat victories.
The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds were out next for a 25-lap feature race. Dave Baker and Collin Thirlby kicked things off from the front row. Thirlby blasted off with the lead after the opening circuit. Thirlby held the top position all the way through lap 10, when he would see a challenge from the 4-time track champion David Mielke who worked his way up after starting third. Mielke would take command from there going on to be the first to the checkered flag.
This was the 26-year old Gladwin, Michigan native’s third win of the season at Merritt Speedway in his Krompetz Elevators / Rocket by Ruhlman Racecar #87. Joe Rokos finished just behind in second. Thirlby, Baker, and Kyle Novak rounded out the top five. Mielke and Paul Johnson won the heat races.
Up next was the 15-lap main for the Lake City Materials Factory Stocks who were led out by Justin Kuhl and Marty French. The green flag waved, and it was 2016 track champion Jim Miller Jr. weaving his way out in front of the field after lap 1 from his third starting position. Miller would maintain the edge until the final five laps where he become engulfed in a great three car battle with 13-year old Chase Burda and the 2017 track champion Rick Spencer. The three drivers would stay right by each other in the closing laps with Miller holding the lead. But, on the final lap Burda would pull off the perfectly timed pass to get by Miller and Spencer and brought home the big win.
This was the first win in the factory stock division for the 13-year old driver who calls Lapeer, Michigan home in his Rob’s Service #18. Miller was forced to settle for second. Spencer, 18-year old Brendan Powell, and Aaron Spearling capped off the top five. Burda and Spencer scored the heat race victories.
The XLT Engineering four-cylinders $600 to win A-Main was next with 19-year old Cheyanne Emery and 19-year old Stan Sutten bringing the field to the green. However it was the fourth place starter Ryan Hamm who took the lead in the first trip around the dirt oval. That would turn out to be the only move Hamm would have to make as he would lead throughout the event despite several cautions and a good battle with defending track champion Willard VanHaitsma for several laps.
This was the Muskegon, Michigan drivers first win of the year at Merritt Speedway in his #7h. VanHaitsma took second. Ashley Vanauken, 17-year old Danielle Robinson and Dillon Gentry completed the top five. Gentry and Don Sevenski were the preliminary heat race winners.
The final main event of the night belonged to the XLT Engineering four-cylinder “B” division who came out for a 20-lap feature event. Katie Robinson and Ty Papkey started at the front of the field. Robinson took the lead on lap 1, but was answered right away by Rylee Knoll who took the lead away on lap 2. Knoll would gain a good advantage over the rest of the field, and despite several cautions, the young driver held on to make the trip to victory lane.
This was the second feature win of the year for the native of Lake, Michigan driver in his Vile Inc. Graphics #07. Limron finished second. Robinson, Papkey, and Shane Forman rounded out the top five. 18-year old Trent Matthews picked up the heat win.
The next event for Merritt Speedway will be This Saturday July 7th. It will be Lightning Sprint night where the Cadillac News Lightning Sprints division will be racing for an increased payout. The show will also include the Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models, Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Auto Value Pro Stocks, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges. The make-up features for the Factory Stocks and Lighting Sprints from June 30th will begin the nights show.
The Pit Gates will open at 3:00pm, grandstands will open at 5:00pm, qualifying for the UMP DIRTcar Late Models and Lightning Sprints will take place at 6:00pm then after the Invocation/National Anthem, the green flag is set to wave at 7:00pm.