Hello all. Hope your weekend was great! Last Saturday we had some beautiful weather, and our first ‘regular’ night of racing in several weeks. The racing was outstanding as well, but the fan count was a bit light from what we expected. Maybe too many specials? Anyway, hopefully we can turn that around moving forward for the final five weekends of racing.
All the divisions were pretty evenly split in regard to car count, allowing everyone to make their class’ A feature, with 106 cars on the property. Thanks to all the drivers who came and raced with us and put on a great show for the fans that did join us at the track!
The Mini Wedge track is coming along each week and the kid’s races have been better every week. Thanks to Jeff Cade for working on a rig for us to use to make the track better. It’s still a work in progress, but we won’t stop until it’s great, which will be including more water in the future. Congratulations to the two young ladies who won the features, Bella Erickson and Katie Robinson. If the trend sustains, Merritt Speedway will have some fast females in its future!
Pro Stocks raced for special payout and had a nice field of cars on hand, as TJ Erickson gets back into Lane Automotive victory lane for the third time this year, having to fight past and hold off Kevin Newberry and Rick Spencer who finished second and third. The B Modifieds also raced for an increased payout Saturday, and a class that I continue to really enjoy having at Merritt. 20 Cars started the feature, and Cody Bauer continues to show that he has everyone’s number right now, as he claimed another victory. Scott Smith came home with a solid second place finish with John Taylor and Archie Miles second and third.
The Lightning Sprint feature was a special one this week, with a first time Merritt winner getting the victory. John Norder won the race, and I know he and his family from my days of owning Berlin Raceway. I said last week that it’s always nice to see new faces in victory lane, and this was a prime example of that, with the entire family getting to celebrate together. Big congratulations to the Norder family! Hot on his heels was Jordan Erickson who finished second, and Scott Flees with another strong finish in third.
The UMP Modifieds have always had some of the best races at Merritt, and they definitely set the bar last week in what had to be the race of the year so far. Joe Rokos got the win, but had to work hard for it, with Chad Bauer right there in a race that came down to the last corner for the win. David Mielke also flexed his muscle and was in the mix for the win late in the race, while Dave Baker and Kyle Novak round out the top five, both also running strong.
Our crowd favorite Late Models were up next, putting on another really great entertaining and fast race. Brandon Thirlby has been on a tear as of late, and won the feature event in back to back weeks. There was lots of hard racing throughout the field, as Thirlby started sixth and had to work his way to the front. In racing, you’re bound to have controversy in some form or fashion, and we unfortunately had that take place on Saturday. Eric Spangler and Greg Gokey made contact on the race track a couple times, in what ultimately ended up with both the 27 and 32 cars around in turn 1 late in the race. The actions taken by the 32 during the caution, hitting another competitor’s car, has resulted in a one-week suspension (of Gokey). Racing is racing, but we don’t want to see cars torn up unnecessarily, and don’t permit actions such as this take place at Merritt Speedway. Hopefully everyone can remember this and move forward accordingly.
The Four Cylinders closed out the action on Saturday, with Willard VanHaitsma getting another victory after starting shotgun on the field. Chad Tomczak and Buddy Palahnuk rounded out the top 3. It was discussed on Saturday that the 00 of VanHaitsma had been told he could not compete at Merritt anymore due to the sheer speed of that car. After further review and when I talked to Willard today, we have decided that changing the rules of the game at this point in the season would not be advantageous for anyone. The Four Cylinders are truly my favorite Merritt division, and we want to see it continue to grow and thrive, and for all competitors to have a shot at winning the feature each week. We will continue to evaluate how to move forward in 2018 regarding this, but nothing will be changed or in place for the weeks remaining. We want to make it right for everyone involved.
This Saturday is our past champions recognition night, presented by Gilboe’s Lock & Safe. All former track champions get free grandstand admission, as well as a complimentary meal under our pavilion pre-race. We also honor the late Rod Ancel, former Merritt Speedway owner and promoter on Saturday night. The UMP Modifieds will race for $2,000-to-win and $200-to-start on Saturday! Also thanks to Gilboes Lock & Safe, the UMP Late Models will be racing for $1,400-to-win, $1,000 for second, $275-to-start and increased all the way! Full payout details, including the increased pay breakdown for our Factory Stocks on Saturday, can be found HERE.
Details regarding the 2nd Annual Keyser’s Great Lakes Shootout featuring the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models will be released soon. We would like to announce now, that the UMP Modifieds will be added to our lineup on Saturday, August 26. Make plans to join us for that huge weekend!
Looking forward to what will be a special night this weekend, and hopefully we can have a nice full pit area that will put on a show for a great crowd! Until then,