Updated: Jun 1, 2021
Lake City, MI (Sunday, May 30, 2021) - A huge doubleheader weekend was on tap for the Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series Presented by Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. On Friday, mother nature interrupted those plans with the postponement of Event #3 at Tri City Motor Speedway. It was then on to Merritt Speedway for a two-day event, featuring a Four Car Dash for Cash, Heat Races, and Qualifying Features on Saturday, with the 50 lap weekend finale paying $10,000 to the victor on Sunday.
The action kicked off on Saturday with Brandon Thirlby putting his M14 machine at the top of the board as the Overall Fast Qualifier (14.027). It was then on to the 4 car "Dash for Cash", featuring the top 4 overall qualifiers going 4 laps for a quick $1,000. Cody Bauer shot to the lead and controlled all 4 laps to grab the quick payday. In heat race action to set the field for the 25 lap Qualifying Features, it was Travis Stemler, David Mielke, and Dona Marcoullier taking the checkers. The Qualifying Features then set the field for Sunday's 50 lap main event, with Brandon Thirlby and Chad Finley finding victory lane.
It was on to Sunday, with $10,000 on the line. Bauer and Marcoullier led the field to green, with Bauer putting his 19X machine out front early. It didn't take long for Marcoullier to work his way under Bauer, to take over the point in his 6M. Marcoullier would hold the top spot until a lap 20 caution for a fire under the hood of the #87 of David Mielke. Mielke brought his car to a stop in the infield off the main straightaway, to the attention of the safety crew. Mielke exited his machine safely, but his night was done. On the restart, Marcoullier once again establish himself at the front of the field, with Logan Nickerson and Bauer occupying the top three. A couple of minor cautions dotted the 50 lap event, but Marcoullier was up to the task on each restart. With a seemingly single lane race track throughout the event, passing was a premium. Marcoullier collected his first Challenge Series win of 2021, with Nickerson and Thirlby chasing him to the line to complete the podium.
"Our whole team has been clicking this year, we just haven't had any breaks on pill draws" commented Marcoullier from victory lane. "We've got these new Black Diamond races cars moving pretty good up here and I couldn't ask for a better crew."
Nickerson, who had his best Challenge Series finish of 2021, was pretty happy with his runner-up finish. "We had a good car, congratulations to Dona on the win, I wasn't getting around him," stated the youngster. "It was a good points night and we'll live to fight another day."
It's now a bit of a break for the Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series, before a big 4th of July weekend doubleheader at Tri City and Merritt.
The make-up date for the Friday event at Tri City has not yet been announced.
Story - Rich Frantz, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Randy Ellen