Lake City, Michigan (Saturday, July 7th, 2018): Merritt Speedway held its third race night in seven days this past Saturday night where the speedway saw 11 feature winners make the trip to victory lane. It was “Lightning Sprint” night at the fast 1/4 (2.50) mile semi banked dirt oval, where the Cadillac News Lightning Sprints ran for a special payout. The Lake City, Michigan power plant hosted eight divisions in total. Along with the lighting sprints were the high-powered Soaring Eagle Casino 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 night began with the make-up feature event from June 30th for the Cadillac News Lightning Sprints who went 20-laps. Paul Erickson and Scott Flees led the field down to the green flag. Lindsey Erickson would fly to the front of the field and take the lead after lap 1 after starting fourth. She would go on from there to pick up the win after leading every single lap in the race. 2015 track champion Mack Erickson finished second. John Norder, Brendon Cascadden, and Bridgette Andras rounded out the top five.
Next it was the 15-lap make up feature for the Lake City Materials Factory Stocks who were led out by Logan Proctor and Dave Crawford. However, after the fall of the green it would actually be 13-year old Chase Burda jumping out in front of the pack of cars. He would hold that position until lap 3 when the defending track champion Rick Spencer weaved his way to the front of the field. Spencer would command the lead until 16-year old Dale Kaake III took the top spot at the white flag signaling one lap to go. But Spencer would not be denied as he charged back ahead in time for the checkered flag to get the win. Kaake, Burda, Crawford, and Brendan Powell completed the top five.
The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges held their “Un-Restricted” and “Restricted” feature events. In the “Restricted” division it was Pierson DeShano making the trip to victory lane for his 4th win of the year. He finished just ahead of Cole Shanteau who was second. Dillon Liggett, Troy Yetter, and Keeton Cade made up the rest of the top five. Landon Kirt was the winner of the “Un-Restricted” division getting his first win of the year. 12-year old Clay LaChcik was the runner-up. Olivia Workman, Bella Erickson, and Brennan DeShano were the rest of the top five. The heat race winners were Pierson DeShano (Restricted) and Brennan DeShano (Un-Restricted).
The 20-lap A-Main feature for the Auto Value Pro Stocks rolled to the speedway led out by Tim Tabaczka and Tim Murphy. The drag race into the first turn began after the drop of chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Jordan Erickson would charge to the front of the field after the opening circuit after starting third. He would hang on until lap 4 where the defending track champion T.J. Erickson made the pass for the lead. That would turn out to be all he needed to do, as he would go on all the way from there to pick up the victory.
This was the third win of the season for the 26-year old driver from Traverse City, Michigan behind the wheel of his Culvers #19. Jacob Flickinger scored the second-place finish. Murphy, Marc Super, and Rick Yaroch rounded out the top five. Teri Lynn Murphy and T.J. Erickson won the heat races.
The 15-lap feature for the XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders was next. Aaron Boyd and 19-year old Stan Sutten brought the field onto the race track. 17-year old Danielle Robinson stormed ahead of everyone else to take the lead on lap 1. She pulled out to a convincing lead. However, the defending track champion Willard VanHaitsma weaved his way through the field after starting sixth and was able to catch Robinson and battle for the lead and when the checkered flag dropped it was VanHaitsma getting the win. VanHaitsma, the 60-year old driver from Cadillac, Michigan notched his fourth win of the season in his J&H Salvage #00. Robinson was forced to settle for second. Jeremy McCracken, 19-year old Cheyanne Emery, and Boyd finished off the top five. VanHaitsma also won the heat race.
The XLT Engineering Four-Cylinder B division competed in a 15-lap main event. Mike Hency and 18-year old Trent Matthews kicked things off from the front row. Matthews went to work taking the advantage on the first lap. He would hold the lead until lap 4 when he would see Rylee Knoll charge by taking the lead away. Knoll would lead on from there and take home the checkered flag. This was Knoll’s third win of the season and second in a row, driving the Vile Inc. Graphics #07. Matthews finished in second. Bobby Fetters, Hency, and Shane Forman capped off the top five. The lone heat race win went to Katie Robinson.
The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds took to the racing surface for their 20-lap feature race. Scott Smith and Scott Payton brought the field to the green. Smith grabbed the early race advantage, but Payton would answer him back on lap 2 pulling away with the lead as the stout field continued the position battles behind him. The defending track champion Cody Bauer was charging towards the front of the field soon after, but he would shockingly spin out bringing out the caution flag which forced him to re-start at the rear. Payton would hang on from there to collect the win.
The 36-year old driver Gaylord, Michigan scored his third win of the year in his Big Boys Tv / Longhorn Chassis #711. Josh Loomis was the runner up finisher. Reid Sanders, Smith, and John Taylor completed the top five. Mike Shanteau, Taylor, and Sanders won the heats.
The 30-lap main for the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models was next led by Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Famer Steve Hilliker and Andrew Terrill on the front row. Hilliker took the lead after the opening circuit. A long battle would begin with both Terrill and the 2015 UMP DIRTcar national rookie of the year Nick Kurtz who both tried everything they could to get around the veteran driver Hilliker, always with striking distance. However, when the dust settled it was indeed Hilliker making the journey to victory lane.
This was the first win of the year at Merritt Speedway for the 58-year old driver from Midland, Michigan behind the wheel of his Midland Steel / Mastersbilt Racecar #21s. Terrill took second. Kurtz, Wade Witherspoon, and 16-year old Michael Luberda Jr. made up the rest of the top five. The heat victories went to Kurtz, 6-time track champion Eric Spangler, and Bobby Timmer. Spangler won the four-car dash, and Kurtz was the overall fast qualifier with a time of 13.497.
Anthony Whitehead and Dave Hall brought out the 25-lap main event for the Cadillac News Lighting Sprints who went head to head for a special payout. Whitehead took command of the lead in the early going. It would be on lap 4 when John Norder powered his way by taking the top position away after starting Tenth. Norder would hang on from there to get the feature win.
Norder, the 33-year old driver from Hudsonville, Michigan picked up his first win of the season in his Biggby Coffee #42. He finished ahead of Johnny Roberts who finished second. Brendon Cascadden, Lindsey Erickson, and Whitehead rounded out the top five. 2015 track champion Mack Erickson and Roberts scored the heat race wins. Lindsey Erickson was the overall fast qualifier with a time of 14.145.
The final feature of the night belonged to the Lake City Materials Factory Stocks. Dave Crawford and Aaron Spearling had the pleasure of starting the 15-lap race from the coveted front row. The green flag waved, and Crawford jumped out immediately. He would lead for the first nine laps until the defending track champion Rick Spencer worked his way by Crawford for the race advantage. Then, on lap 11 the hard charging Jake Thompson worked his up to battle with Spencer, and officially took the lead. Thompson went on from there to get the victory.
This was Thompson’s second win of the year in his S&S Auto Parts #50. He beat out Spencer who finished in the runner up position. 2016 track champion Jim Miller Jr., 13-year old Chase Burda, and Crawford finished out the top five. 2015 track champion Jim Miller Sr., and Thompson won the heats.
The next event for Merritt Speedway will be This Saturday July 14th. It will be “late model night” featuring at special $2000 to win feature event for the premiere division, the Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models. Also, in action will be the Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges. Plus, the night will see the second visit from the M.O.R.A. Mini-Outlaws. The Pit gates will open at 3:00pm, grandstands will open at 5:00pm. Qualifying for the UMP DIRTcar Late Models, and UMP DIRTcar Modifieds will take place at 6:00pm. Then, after pre-race ceremonies, Invocation/National Anthem, the green flag is set to fly at 7:00pm.