Dona Marcoullier Uses Experience to Win CHS 40

Updated: Jun 2, 2019

Lake City, MI (Sunday, May 26. 2019) - An impressive field of 41 cars made their way to Lake City, Michigan’s, Merritt Speedway for a chance at a $4,000 payday and a celebration in Victory Lane with the American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT). Among the field of seasoned AELMT veterans, were a host of Merritt Speedway regulars, and national tear drivers looking to steal the show.

The night started as always with American Ethanol Qualifying. Group one was lead by Dennis Erb, Jr with a 14.437 over Travis Stemler and Jeremy Lange. Group two saw Rusty Schlenk take the top of the board with a 14.740 over Frank Heckenast, Jr. and Nick Kurtz. In group three, Logan Arntz set the pace with a 15.246 over Steven Hilliker and Rich Bell. The final group ended with Dave Baker at the top of the charts with a 15.149, Brandon Thirlby and Dona Marcoullier behind him. Erb would be awarded the Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants Fast Qualifier Award.

Then on to Heat Race action to begin setting the field. Hot off his first career AELMT feature win from Gas City, Travis Stemler picked up Michigan Corn Growers Association Heat Race One over Erb, Jr Jason Player, Jr., and Herb Reich. In Zoye Vegetable Oil Heat Race Number Two, Nick Kurtz went to victory lane over Schlenk, Heckenast, Jr, and Eric Spangler. Lane Automotive Heat Race Number Three saw Rich Bell pick up the win, ahead of Hilliker, Andrew Terrill, and Chad Finley. In the final heat race, the Zeigler Ford Heat Race Number Four, Marcoullier was victorious over Thirlby, Rob Anderzack, and Dave Baker. The top four cars from each heat transferred in to the show, with the top two going to the redraw.

The field would be complete after two Last Chance Qualifiers, with the top two from each going to the show. Dusty Moore and Josh Knoll punched their ticket to the show in POET BioFuels LCQ One, while David Mielke and Rich Neisser would transfer through Zeeland Farm Services LCQ 2. Merritt Speedway officials invoked their option to add additional starters with Kyle Roberts, Joe Godsey, Michael Luberda, Kyle Novak, and Mike Staszak starting on the tail.

In the 40 Lap, $4,000 to win CHS 40, it seemed as though track position would be everything to win, on a night when passing was nearly unseen leading up to the main event. Rusty Schlenk and Brandon Thirlby would lead the field to the American Ethanol Green Flag, and the race, was quite literally, on. Thirlby used momentum off the top of turn two to power around for the lead on the opening lap. Thirlby appeared to be opening up a gap on second spot Schlenk, when suddenly the CJ1 found new life. As the leaders neared in on back markers, Schlenk made his move to the inside of Thirlby’s M14, and took the top spot just before the halfway point. Thirlby started to slide back to third place running Travis Stemler when Schlenk would have problems with backmarkers. The pair went side-by-side for the lead, behind a pair of side-by-side back markers - Thirlby would find the fast line around the bottom, and edge pack ahead of Schlenk. As they did that, it allowed Stemler and Dona Marcoullier to reel them in. Thirlby began to try and put lapped cars between he and Schlenk, but with 11 laps to go, the caution flew for a single car spin that allowed Schlenk to get right back behind Thirlby.

On the ensuing restart, the entire feel of the race changed when fourth starting Marcoullier took Thirlby and Schlenk three wide down the back straightaway, and jumped to the lead into turn three. Schlenk would find a way around Thirlby and the dash to the finish was a good one. Two single car spins with seven laps to go would not phaze the two time AELMT champion, and Marcoullier went on to Victory Lane. Schlenk brought home second, Thirlby third, Rich Bell Fourth, and Travis Stemler rounded out the top five.

Next up for the AELMT is a rescheduled trip to Montpelier, Indiana’s Montpelier Motor Speedway, on Saturday, June 1st. Keep up with the AELMT on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Log onto for more information, including schedule, results, and more.

Unofficial Results:

CHS 40:

1. 6M Dona Morcoullier

2. CJ1 Rusty Schlenk

3. M14 Brandon Thirlby

4. 21B Rich Bell

5. 2 Travis Stemler

6. 28 Dennis Erb

7. 99 JRFrank Heckenast Jr

8. 79 Nick Kurtz

9. 87 Rich Neiser

10. 42 Chad Finley

11. 21S Steven Hilliker

12. 15 Dave Baker

13. 4T Andrew Terrill

14. 34 Herb Reich

15. 87M David Mielke

16. 27 Eric Spangler

17. 8 Rob Anderzack

18. 75 Dusty Moore

19. 24N Kyle Novak

20. 16 Mike Staszak

21. 41 Jason Playter Jr

22. 113 Kyle Roberts

23. 1W Michael Luberda

24. 21A Logan Arntz

25. 14G Joe Godsey

26. 87K Josh Knoll

Michigan Corn Growers Heat Race #1:

1. 2 Travis Stemler

2. 28 Dennis Erb, Jr

3. 41 Jason Playter, Jr

4. 34 Herb Reich

5. 75 Dusty Moore

6. 1W Michael Luberda

7. 16 Mike Staszak

8. 00 Rob Lewis

9. 02 Jeramy Lange

10.44g John Goodrich

Zoye Vegetable Oil Heat Race #2:

1. 79 Nick Kurtz

2. CJ1 Rusty Schlenk

3. 99JR Frank Heckenast, Jr

4. 27 Eric Spangler

5. 1X Greg Gokey

6. 14G Joe Godsey

7. 24N Kyle Novak

8. 14R Jeff Roth

9. 73 Steve Nieuwenhuis

10. 23 Preston Deshano

Lane Automotive Heat Race #3:

1. 21B Rich Bell

2. 21S Steven Hilliker

3. 4T Andrew Terrill

4. 42 Chad Finley

5. 113 Kyle Roberts

6. 87K Josh Knoll

7. 19X Cody Bauer

8. 21A Logan Arntz

9. 41P Jesse Playter

10. 31G Sammy Epling

Zeigler Ford Heat Race #4:

1. 6M Dona Marcoullier

2. M14 Brandon Thirlby

3. 8 Rob Anderzack

4. 15 Dave Baker

5. 87M David Mielke

6. 87 Rich Neiser

7. 04 Wade Witherspoon

8. 10 Brett Miller

9. 03 JC Witherspoon

10. 20 Kory Morrice

11. 23 Brad Wade

POET BioFuels LCQ #1:

1. 75 Dusty Moore

2. 87K Josh Knoll

3. 113 Kyle Roberts

4. 1W Michael Luberda

5. 21A Logan Arntz

6. 16 Mike Staszak

7. 02 Jeramy Lange

8. 41P Jesse Playter

9. 31G Sammy Epling

10. 44G John Goodrich

11. 19X Cody Bauer

12. 00 Rob Lewis

Zeeland Farm Services LCQ #2:

1. 87M David Mielke

2. 87 Rich Neiser

3. 14G Joe Godsey

4. 10 Brett Miller

5. 24N Kyle Novak

6. 04 Wade Witherspoon

7. 23W Brad Wade

8. 14R Jeff Roth

9. 20 Kory Morrice

10. 03 JC Witherspoon

11. 23 Preston Deshano

12. 73 Steve Nieuwenhuis

13. 1X Greg Gokey


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