Lake City, Michigan (Saturday August 11th, 2018): The American Ethanol Modified Tour presented by Allstar Performance made an impromptu visit to the Merritt Speedway this past Saturday night. The traveling cars and stars of the Lake Odessa, Michigan based tour made the trip to “Michigan’s Premeire Dirt Track” for their fifth event of the 2018 season. The tour was joined by the high-powered Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models, Cadillac News Lightning Sprints, Auto Value Pro Stocks, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges.
The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges held their usually feature events both for the “Restricted” and “Un-Restricted” divisions. Jake Erickson picked up his fourth win of the year in his #48 car in the Restricted feature event. Dillon Liggett, Landyn Neitling, Pierson DeShano, and Peighton Crawford were the rest of the top five. Erickson, and Neitling won the heats. Then, in the Un-Restricted feature it was Landon Kirt getting his second win of the year in his #33. Clay Lachcik, Kyron Deshano, Nathan Winters, and Brennan DeShano all finished in the top five. The winner of the heat race was Brennan DeShano.
The Cadillac News Lighting Sprints made their way onto the race surface for their 25-lap main event led by the front row of Dave Hall and John Norder. The green flag fell, and Norder pulled out to the early advantage. He would maintain the top position throughout much of the race. However, as the white flag was displayed signaling the final lap Johnny Roberts would take the lead away and go on to get the win. This was Robert’s third win of the year in his Pat’s Auto #2A. Norder was forced to settle for second. 2015-track champion Mack Erickson, Brendan Cascadden, and Lindsey Erickson rounded out the top five. The preliminary heat races were won by Cascadden and Mack Erickson.
Dave Crawford and Steven Lippner brought out the 15-lap A-Main for the Lake City Materials Factory Stocks. Crawford would take the lead after the first lap with the rest of field shuffling for positions behind him.18-year old Brendan Powell would eventually weave his way to the front of the pack becoming the new leader with 13-year old Chase Burda and 2017-track champion Rick Spencer in hot pursuit. When the dust settled it was Spencer who managed to make the pass for the lead and pull away with just enough distance, and brought home the checkerd flag. Spencer, a native of Whittemore, Michigan picked up his Sixth win of the season in his Spencer’s Auto Salvage #M65. Powell, Burda, Dwight Crawford, and Dave Crawford made up the rest of the top five finishers. Burda and Spencer won the heat races.
The 30-lap main event for the Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models rolled to the speedway with 1980-track champion and Michigan Motorsports Hall of Famer Steve Hilliker and Steve Nieuwenhuis on the front row in charge of bringing the field to green. Once the event began it was actually Nick Kurtz getting the jump on everyone taking the lead after the opening lap. Nothing would change until lap 7 when after a restart 16-year old Michael Luberda powered his way to the lead. The young driver would hold a steady lead until lap 18 when a charging 2-time American late model series champion Brandon Thirlby wrestled the lead the away, but Luberda would not give in and a great battle began between the two drivers trading the lead four times until Luberda was able to secure it and continued on to victory.
This was the Au Gres, Michigan driver’s first win of the year in his Outdoor Adventures R.V. Resorts / Club 29 Black Diamond Chassis #1w. Thirlby took second. Kurtz, Hilliker, and 6-time track champion Eric Spangler completed the top five. The heat wins went to Hilliker and Kurtz. Hilliker also won the four-car dash. Spangler was the overall fast qualifier with a time of 14.873.
In the XLT Engineering four-cylinder “A” division it would be Travis Skaggs leading in the early stage of the 15-lap feature race. He held on all the way until lap 12 when 17-year old Danielle Robinson powered her way by and took the spot for herself. She would go on to make the visit to victory lane. The native of Mount Pleasant, Michigan notched her third win of the season in her Tommie Bauer Excavating #11. Brad Britting, Skaggs, 19-year old Cheyanne Emery, and 14-year old Bobby Fetters finished out the top five. Robinson also won the heat.
Then, in the XLT Engineering four-cylinders “B” division Mike Hency led the first four circuits until 18-year old Trent Matthews was able to maneuver his way by for the lead. Matthews pulled out but by lap 8 Rylee Knoll charged up to challenge Matthews, and Knoll was able to get by, and he would be the driver to get the win. Matthews finished second. Hency, Katie Robinson, and Mandie Downey capped off the top five. Matthews also won the heat race.
The running of the NAPA Auto & Truck Parts 30 courtesy of the American Ethanol Modified Tour presented by Allstar Performance rolled out next with 2008 Merritt track champion Chad Bauer and 2017-tour champion Jacob Poel on the front row bringing the field to chief starter Randy Hose’s green flag. Poel wasted no time pulling out the top position. The action picked up again as Poel began working his way through lap traffic which allowed Bauer and 4-time track champion David Mielke to make up a lot of ground. Mielke, who has won the last two American Ethanol tour event did get around Bauer for second, but it would end up being Poel’s night as he would stand tall at the end of the night picking up the big $1500 payday. Mielke, Bauer, Paul Johnson, and Joe Rokos rounded out the top five. Mielke, Bauer, and Poel won the heats.
The Auto Value Pro Stocks ran a 20-lap feature event with Kevin Newberry and 2008 Pro Truck track champion Dick Stout starting things off on the front row. Newberry shot out in front of the field, taking the early advantage after the opening circuit. The early stages saw a great battle for second between Jacob Flickinger and Tim Tabacaka. Unfortunetly Tabaczka would break causing him to end his night early. Newberry would command the lead throughout the event would be the first to the checkered flag. This was the first win of the year for the 54-year old from Gaylord, Michigan in the Shirtworksracewear.com #57x. Flickinger was second. 3-time track champion T.J. Erickson, Stout, and Teri Lynn Murphy made up the rest of the top five. Erickson and Tabcaka were the heat winners.
The next event for Merritt Speedway will be this Saturday August 18th with the running of another full show. The race program will once again be headlined by the Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models. Also competing will be 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. The pit gates will open at 3:00pm. Grandstands will open at 5:00pm. Qualifying for Late Models will occur at 6:00pm, and after invocation/national anthem, the green flag is set to wave at 7:00pm.