Good afternoon friends,
Today we start on a sad note. On opening night, we held a raffle fundraiser for Deb and Steve Bowman, and if you were in attendance last Saturday, you heard the news just before our moment of silence. Sadly, longtime Merritt employee and loyal fan Steve Bowman passed away last Thursday, and we would like to express our deepest condolences to the entire family.
Saturday was a challenging day, with rain in and out of the forecast pretty much every day during the week leading up to it. At about 5:30 on Saturday, all the clouds closed in on the track and it seemed to rain heavily in every direction in a 5-mile-radius around Merritt. Fortunately for us, we only got a few very light sprinkles and were good to go, and even the crowd filled in decently when we hit feature time.
All the divisions put on very good racing again, as we’ve grown accustom to seeing. Three of our defending champions got lucky with ideal front row starting spots in the feature, with Eric Spangler, David Mielke, and Chad Tomczak all claiming victory Saturday. Battles for those top spots though, and truly throughout the field in all classes was darn impressive. It is always fun to see the fans perk up in their seats when the Late Models or Modifieds come onto the race track, since they know they’re about to see one fantastic race with the best drivers in the state. Dona Marcoullier, Nick Kurt, and Chad Finley have all had two great runs, and Kyle Novak, Paul Johnson, Andy Galgoci and Joe Rokos got their seasons at Merritt started with strong finishes.
Tip of the cap to the new B Modified division, bringing the crowd to their feet and causing them to make the most noise of any race all night. Cody Bauer had to climb his way up from deep in the pack and with a late race caution, was in position to snatch the lead, which he did and held onto until the checkered flag flew. Defending Lightning Sprint champ and opening night winner Andrew Scheid had to get around former Merritt champion Mack Erickson, and fend off hard chargers including Jordan Erickson late in the race, before ultimately capturing the week two win.
The Pro Stock class, with a very solid 26 cars on the property for $1,000-to-win, put on an action-packed event. While there were a few more cautions than what anyone would’ve wanted to see, it was really nice to have that many drivers racing in that class. The trucks to this point two weeks in seem to be fitting very equally with the cars, with no real competitive advantage either way. Congratulations to Nate Murphy on picking up the NAPA Auto & Truck Parts Pro Stock Feature win. And as noted about, Chad Tomczak claimed the Four Cylinder feature win, over a fast Buddy Palahnuk, Willard VanHaitsma, Austin Harnick, and Scott Boyd.
Mini Wedge Teams: After consulting with some of you, we plan to have a meeting Saturday to discuss if you would like to race every week, instead of bi-weekly this year. Also, we will plan to continue racing the restricted and non-restricted divisions provided enough total racers show up weekly, and we’ll have trophies for both groups each week. Also, we are continually working on the track to make it smoother and smoother for them to have a nice race surface. Stay tuned.
Next Wednesday, the 3rd Annual Showdown will roll off featuring a huge $10,000-to-win for the American Ethanol Late Model Tour! Also racing next Wednesday is the American Ethanol Modified Tour and Boyne Machine Merritt Four Cylinders, both racing for $1,500-to-win! The biggest question we’ve received is: What NASCAR driver is coming? This year, we are not paying to bring in a big name NASCAR driver like we have in years past. It was an honor to have Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Ken Schrader, and Kenny Wallace at the track over the last couple years. But after listening to feedback from our fans and seeing attendance figures, we’ve decided to put the money into the payout for our drivers on the track.
With that said, we are really excited about this race and hope to see all of you on hand for what should be a memorable event and one of the largest in the tracks 49-year history! Tickets are lower than they have been in the previous two years, at $18 for adults and $8 for kids 6-12. All tickets are general admission and will be for sale on the day of the race beginning at 4:00 pm. You may also get your tickets in advance, this Saturday, at the souvenir trailer. We will also be hosting an open practice next Tuesday, June 13, with cars on track from 6 to 9:00 p.m. where drivers can get a feel for Merritt Speedway and run some laps prior to Wednesdays races.
I look forward to seeing you all this weekend for the Showdown Shakedown featuring $800-to-win for the Lightning Sprints, as well as a tune up for the Late Models and Modifieds as they get ready to race on Wednesday night for the Merritt Showdown!