Lake Odessa, MI (Friday, April 16, 2021) - After a long winter following an abbreviated season, a new chapter of Great Lakes Super Sprints (GLSS) racing begins Friday night in Lake Odessa, Michigan. For the first time in 2021, GLSS competitors will unload and hope for a trip to victory lane at I-96 Speedway. A track that former Champions have won big and lost big throughout the course of GLSS history.
A staple track in the GLSS schedule this season, the 360 Winged Sprint Car Tour will kick off the 2021 campaign at a track they’ll see eight times during their 23 race schedule. The 4/10ths mile oval has long produced high speed and exciting racing for GLSS fans and competitors and has served two-time and defending champion Jared Horstman well.
Last season, Horstman went to victory lane two-out-of-three times at I-96 enroute to his second career GLSS title. The only race he didn’t win in Lake Odessa he finished second to Ryan Ruhl, who would be the season championship runner-up. Ruhl’s history on big fast tracks has served him well with GLSS, adding to reason to keep an eye on the Coldwater, Michigan native.
During Ruhl’s last sprint car event, he ran the Smith Motorsports no. 71H 410 Winged Sprint Car with the FAST on Dirt Series at Atomic Speedway. The venture didn’t end well for Ruhl, who flipped several times destroying his chassis. Smith Motorsports, however, picked up a new sponsor in TC Powersports to help them rebuild and push forward with the GLSS season.
Another driver to keep an eye on this weekend is Elida, Ohio’s Max Stambaugh. With a new team this season behind the wheel of the NEFCO 5M, Stambaugh will be looking for the consistent speed he had last year at I-96 Speedway. ‘Mad Max’ never finished outside of the top five those three events in 2020. In fact, his worst finish at I-96 was fifth during the July 24th show.
Other drivers to watch during Friday’s season opener is 2019 GLSS Champion, Phil Gressman. The ‘Ohio Gas-Man’ Gressman nearly won the 2019 co-sanctioned event between GLSS and Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series at I-96. Gressman came home second in that event behind Sam Hafertepe, Jr.
2018 GLSS Champion, Dustin Daggett is also expected to be in attendance tonight. While Daggett didn’t get a GLSS win at I-96 last season, he has always been fast. Daggett seemingly ends up wheel-to-wheel with Horstman at I-96 battling for position throughout the evening. Last season, Daggett did go to I-96 Speedway Victory Lane during a Great Lakes Traditional Sprints show featuring non-wing 410 sprints.
I-96 has also all but ruined driver’s seasons; with high speeds comes high consequences when something goes wrong. Last season, Andrew Scheid lost the top of turn four and slammed the outside wall, flipping upside down and ending his week. Fans will also remember when 2016 Champion, Chase Ridenour clipped the turn one wall and flipped violently off the speedway. The crash sent Ridenour to the hospital to be checked out.
Grandstands open at 5:00 PM Friday night at I-96 Speedway with Hot Laps on track at 6:30 PM, Qualifying at 7:00 PM and the first race of the night at 8:00 PM. For more information on I-96 Speedway, check out www.i96speedway.com or find them on Facebook.
To learn more about the Great Lakes Super Sprints or any of the other Great Lakes Family of Sprint Cars, log onto www.GreatLakesSprints.com, or find Great Lakes Super Sprints on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter @GLSprints.
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Jim DenHamer