Good morning Merritt friends,
First up, I want to recognize an omission that was accidentally made last week. The same few people have ruled the Four Cylinder class for a while, but Austin Harnick has run up front and got the victory on August 12. Congratulations to him and the family on their triumph, and we’re sorry for missing that in last week’s thoughts.
This past Saturday night we hosted our annual open wheel spectacular, with both the winged and non-winged sprint cars at the speedway. One thing we’ve seen a trend on, is the lack of ‘open wheel’ fans in our area, or at least the struggle to draw them to the track to support a show like we had last Saturday, which also included our Late Models and Modifieds too. We’ve certainly tried hard to put up a big time schedule and have seen how things have shaken out through the year, and will be scheduling accordingly as we move forward into 2018.
21 Sprints on Dirt cars and 16 Michigan Traditional Sprints were on hand Saturday. The SOD feature was very entertaining, with lots of passing and exciting in general. Congratulations to Dan McCarron on picking up the win in his 22 car, over Steve Irwin and Ryan Ruhl. Irwin ran both the winged and non-winged races, and captured the MTS feature win after a great battle for the lead for much the race, beating Brian Smith and John Watson who finished second and third. We thank every driver who made the trip to Merritt and put on a really great show for the fans that were in attendance.
Brandon Thirlby got it done in the UMP Late Model division for the third time in 2017, topping Eric Spangler who was second, while Travis Stemler, Steven Hilliker and Kyle Roberts rounded out the top five. We look forward to seeing what our local drivers can do against the World of Outlaw invaders this weekend at the Keyser’s Shootout! Spangler captured the Friday night portion of last year’s event.
Chad Bauer has been fast all year long with 11-top-five finishes, and he was finally able to close the deal on Saturday with his first feature win of the season at Merritt. Chad sits just 10-points off the lead to David Mielke, who finished second on Saturday night, with Joe Rokos third. The UMP Modifieds will race both Saturday and Sunday this weekend as the point battle shakes out with incredible weekly racing.
Johnny Roberts got it done for the second time in 2017, in his 2A Lightning Sprint on Saturday, edging Andrew Scheid to the line after a late race caution, with Lindsey Erickson, John Norder, and Chuck Erickson rounding out the top five. Jordan Erickson experienced issues Saturday, allowing Lindsey to close the point gap down to just 13 heading into the end of the season.
Rick Spencer got his fourth victory on Saturday in the Factory Stock division, beating Mike Currie who had trouble in his heat race, and Richie Sutherland finishing third. Spencer now has command of the points battle in the division, with Jim Miller Jr. bowing out after capturing the last two championship titles in the division.
The Four Cylinder battle has really been exciting all season, and that continued again Saturday as we closed the night with their feature race. Chad Tomczak got the victory in his 84 machine, beating Austin Harnick and Danielle Robinson who came home second and third respectively. Seven-time feature winner Willard VanHaitsma had mechanical gremlins Saturday and was forced to retire early, which allowed Tomczak to draw within only 19-points of the lead.
The Mini Wedge action improved on Saturday night, with rain forcing our staff to lay out a track on the front stretch once again in a slightly reconfigured layout. The action was fast and furious, with Hunter Lange and Lillian Erickson getting feature wins. We’re pleased to host the Mini Wedge Association finale on Sunday, September 3, in conjunction with our tracks final night of point racing. We will not have wedges race on Saturday, September 2, as Crystal Speedway hosts their final race for the class that night The Wedges will race at Merritt this Saturday, August 26, and Sunday, September 3 for their last two nights at Merritt in 2017.
This weekend is the big one… the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series coming to Michigan for their first and only time in 2017 and we’re thrilled to be host. Keyser Manufacturing makes this race possible for outlaw fans in the State of Michigan and we thank them for their support of this annual special. With pretty much perfect weather forecasted, we can hopefully get the fan turnout and support to this event so that it may continue for years to come. The outlaws will race for $6,000-to-win on Saturday, along with our UMP Mods, Lightning Sprints, Factory Stocks, Four Cylinders and Wedges on Saturday night with races at 7. On Sunday, racing will begin at 6:00 p.m., with the featured race being the World of Outlaws Late Models 75-lap $15,000-to-win race, being joined by the UMP Mods, B Mods, Pro Stocks and Four Cylinders. Camping is free this weekend, so bring the party and make some memories! Lots of big names coming to Northern lower Michigan so don’t miss out. Let’s make it a weekend we can’t forget!
Saturday and Sunday, September 2 and 3 will close out the regular season at Merritt, with featured race action from the American Ethanol Modified Tour on Saturday, and the American Ethanol Late Model Tour on Sunday. Racing will begin at 7 on Saturday, and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday and will be capped off with fireworks. We will also be doing a collection, 50/50 raffle and other giveaways to raise money for Peni Lalonde, who is battling stage 4 cancer. Join us in helping her and the entire Lalonde family during this difficult fight.
While it appears to be behind us, if anyone has an issue with a check being paid, please give me a call - 616-291-4781. Thank you to everyone for your continued support of Merritt Speedway, and we’ll see you all this weekend for the big show of the season! Until then,