Lake City, MI (Wednesday, June 10, 2020) - Merritt Speedway opened its gates this past Saturday Night to kick off the month of June with an action-packed racing program. The Soaring Eagle UMP DIRTcar Late Models headlined the event racing for $2000 to win. Joining them were the Auto Value Pro Stocks also racing in a special event paying $500 to win. The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, XLT Engineering Four-Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini Wedges all competed as well.
The Allstar Performance Mini Wedges took part in a special event before the start of the main racing program on Saturday afternoon. The Restricted (Restrictor Plate) division saw A.J. White from St. Joseph, Michigan pick up the win. Leilynd Strehlke, Peyton Cunningham, Addy Wade, and Tucker Warner completed the top five finishers. Then in the Un-Restricted (No Restricter Plate) division it was Landyn Neitiling who went to victory lane. Keeton Cade, Rylie Jones, Zayden Buskirk, and Hunter Evans rounded out the top five. The heat races were won by Warner, and Strehlke (Restricted) and Evans (Un-Restricted).
Andrew Steele and Nate Murphy led out the Auto Value Pro Stocks $500 to win 20-lap main event. The early stages would see several caution flags thrown. However once things got back on track it was 17-year old Austin Harnick who worked his way up through the field to grab the lead after starting sixth. The young Clare, Michigan native scored his second feature win of the year behind the wheel of his Outlaw Suspension Technologies #15h. Kendall Morrison finished second. Nate Murphy, Kyle Hunt, and TJ Gilbert made up the rest of the top five. Mike Husted, Harnick, and Morrison won the heats.
The XLT Engineering Four and Six Cylinders made their way onto the racing surface for their 20-lap A-Main, Richie Montgomery and Nick Williams started on the front row. The race would be mired by multiple caution flags due spinouts, wrecks, debris, and other causes. This forced the event to be called due to time limit on lap 9, giving the win to the driver with the lead at that moment in this case it was Nick Jenema. The Wyoming, Michigan driver notched his second win of the season at Merritt Speedway in his Steve’s Tire #44. Mike Currier was the runner up finisher. 13-year old Katie Robinson, 2019-track champion Cheyanne Emery, and Robert Hankinson capped off the top five. The Last Chance Qualifier was won by Brandon Nichols. Dylan Vermilyea, Robinson, and Chris Wassmann picked up the heat race wins.
The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds rolled out for their 25-lap feature event led by 4-time track champion Brent Banning and Caleb Kill. Kill took the lead in the early going. But there was no stopping Jeff Erickson Jr. he powered his way to the lead after starting fifth. He would go on to bring home the win. This was the 31-year old Muskegon, Michigan native’s second win of the year in his Salon One / Elite Chassis #1E. 2-time track champion Chad Bauer finished just behind in second. Kill, Joe Rokos, and Banning finished off the top five. Erickson and Rokos won the heats.
Dona Marcoullier and 2019-track champion David Mielke would lead out the $2000 to win Soaring Eagle Casino UMP DIRTcar Late Models for their 40-lap main. The green flag waved and the battle for position began. Marcoullier took the lead early. He would see pressure from Mielke throughout the race, but when the dust settled it was Marcoullier visiting victory lane. The 35-year old driver from Houghton Lake, Michigan scored his first win of the season in the Dennis Craft Construction / Club 29 Black Diamond Chassis #6m. Cody Bauer would be the runner up finisher. Mielke, 6-time track champion Eric Spangler, and Logan Arntz rounded out the top five. Michael Luberda won the last chance qualifier. Bauer, Chad Finley, Mielke, and Arntz were the heat winners. Arntz was the fastest overall in qualifying with a 13.653 lap time.
For Marcoullier, the win came amid the same week in which his girlfriend, Sarah Klein was found to have a brain tumor. Marcoullier posted on his Dona Marcoullier Racing Facebook page that he hadn't planned on racing that weekend, but Klein made it clear he needed to be at the track. Klein's tumor was succesfully removed and she is home resting.
The Lake City Materials Factory Stocks ran a 20-lap feature event. Ty Papkey and 2-time
track champion Rick Spencer brought the field down to the green flag. Spencer would take command of the race in the early going. Spencer would fend off a challenge from Rob Brillhart for most of the event. There would be a late race caution, causing a restart to happen on lap 17. This was when the hard charging Jake Thompson who started tenth and had worked his way up to third would burst up the front of the field and make the pass to get by Spencer and score the win. Thompson a native of Birch Run, Michigan picked up his first win of the year in the Diffin Farms #50. Brillhart was second. Spencer, Papkey, and Richie Sutherland completed the top five. Rylee Knoll won the last chance qualifier. Ryan Nethers, Sutherland, Vern Buskirk, and Brillhart won the heats.
Thompson's win came during the same week in which his grandfather, Michigan racing legend Jay Woolworth, passed away. During a memorial service held at Auto City Speedway and Event Center, Thompson had honored his late grandfather with a massive burnout and set of donuts. Thompson honored his Woolworth with a special photo in victory lane.
The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds were the last feature of the evening and competed in a 20-lap race with Jeff Kohn and Josh Loomis on the front row. The night belonged to Loomis as he took the lead early on and there would be no stopping him. He would go on from there to win the race to the checkered flag. This was the 31-year old from Weidman, Michigan’s first win of the year in the Loomis Racing #11. Gary Vandermark finished second. Austin Wonch, Chance Allen, and Jeff Reay made up the rest of the top five. Allen also won the last chance qualifier. Vandermark, Reay, and Myron DeYoung won the heats.
Next up for Merritt Speedway is the first weekend of competition for the Lane Automotive Allstar Performance Merritt/Tri-City Challenge Series Supported by American Ethanol. The event will feature a $5,000 to win main event for the DIRTcar UMP Late Models on Saturday, June 13th.
The Motor City Racing Promotions (MCRP) Timing and Scoring officials along with the MCRP Safety Team will be on hand throughout the entire season at Merritt and Tri-City Motor Speedway. Join the MCRP conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #MCRP. Learn more about their services by logging on to www.motorcityracing.co
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Story by - Brian Osborn, Merritt Speedway
Additional Contribution - Zach Hiser, Motor City Racing Promotions
Photos - Motor City Racing Promotions