Bristol, TN (Saturday, March 20, 2021) - The Friday night edition of the Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals included some glimmers of success for the Michigan contingent of drivers, but was also another night of disappointments, torn up race cars, and one trip to the hospital.
The night began with group qualifying for the Super Late Models. Travis Stemler came out of the gate appearing ready to put on a show for his fans, qualifying 6th fastest in his group with a 15.960, just two-one-thousandths-of-a-second off a top-five qualifying effort. Gladwin, Michigan's, David Mielke showed decent speed clocking in at 16.123, just outside of the top 10, qualifying 13th. Ionia, Michigan's Bryant Dickinson qualified just ahead of the other Michigan entry, Chris Nash. They came in 13th and 14th respectively.
In Heat Race action, the Michigan boys showed they could race around the fast half-mile of Bristol Motor Speedway, with Mielke holding down a 6th place finish, just two spots outside of an automatic transfer to the main event. Stemler also held down a 6th place run after starting inside of row two. Stemler had an issue getting into the first turn, which led to losing several spots down the backstretch. Nash found trouble in his heat race, coming home 10th pulling in prior to the finish. Dickinson came home in 7th during his heat race.
There was little improvement in the B-Mains. Dickinson and Nash were scheduled to appear in B-Main number one, but Dickinson did not answer the call. For Nash, he again was unable to complete the race and finished 10th. In B-Main number two, Mielke and Stemler started side-by-side in the second row, but couldn't quite hold on to transfer positions. Stemler came up just short, crossing the line in 5th. Mielke appeared to be on his way to 'the big dance', but engine troubles would find the 87 car as he ran second to Kyle Busch. Mielke would officially be scored in 11th.
It was a tough night in the modified divisions, with just two of the Michigan representatives punching their ticket into the show. Aj Ward and Jeff Reay finished second and third in B-Main number four, putting them into the big dance.
A concerning moment in B-Main number two when Chase Burda ended up sideways in front of the field and was hit hard in the driver's side of his number 18. Burda would eventually leave the infield care center and head for a nearby hospital with what they believed was a broken leg. As of Saturday morning, the Burda Motorsports Facebook page says the leg is not broken but rather heavily bruised.
Ward continued to show speed during his Modified feature event, but just didn't have enough time to work through the field. At the end of the 20 laps, Ward had managed to race his way up to 15th. Reay remained marred at the back of the pack, bringing home a 21st place run.
Tonight, $50,000 is on the line for the Super Late Models in Bristol during their 40 lap main event. Plus, 604 Late Models, Open Modifieds, Stock Cars, and Hornets will race during the program that begins at 5:00 pm. The Hornet program got underway at 9:00 am.
Friday 03/19 Results:
SUPER LATE MODELS:
4 – Travis Stemler – B-Main #2; P5
5* – Bryant Dickinson – B-Main #1; DNS
87 – David Mielke – B-Main #2; P11
354 – Chris Nash – B-Main #1; P10
2A – Chance Allen – B-Main #1; P16
12 – Jeffrey Reay – A-Main; P21
18 – Chase Burda – B-Main #2; P19
18K – Dale Kaake III – P23 Feature 2
20W – AJ Ward – A-Main; P15
42 – Craig Vance – B-Main #2; P18
711P – Scott Payton – B-Main #4; P13
Full Results: Race Monitor
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Mielke Brothers Racing