Late Race Passes Decide Player Hater at Winston
Rothbury, MI (Saturday, April 3, 2021) - The first event of the 2021 Michigan racing season is now in the books. Race fans from all across the state converged on Winston Speedway for the Player Hater Wild West Shootout Presented by Lane Automotive. A condensed yet competitive field of Super Late Models and IMCA Modifieds waged war on the Speedway Saturday afternoon.
A $3,000 prize awaited drivers at the end of the 50 lap afternoon shootout at Winston. While just 16 cars checked in for a shot at the cash, the field had potential winners scattered all throughout it; including Travis Stemler, Dona Marcoullier, Brandon Thirlby, Chad Finley, and others. The full house of fans were on their feet as Stemler and Finley led the field to the green flag.
Stemler quickly jumped out to the lead, showing that he again was going to be a force to deal with all day long. Finley quickly acclimated himself with the second spot while the rest of the field settled in. The first caution flag of the day came just four laps in when mechanical trouble found Garrett Wiles’ number 16. Thirlby also encountered trouble during that caution and both drivers retired from the event.
When the green flag flew again, Stemler again marched away from Finley and the rest of the field, putting over a straightaway between he and second place. The race appeared to be Stemler’s to lose as he started to put on a clinic at the northern Michigan speedway. As Stemler’s domination began to put fans to sleep, the caution flag flew once again when Ryan Vanderveen spun himself into the infield in turn three. This brought the field back together once again.
On what would be the final restart of the night, Houghton Lake native, Dona Marcoullier took full advantage of his restart to slide into the second spot, dismissing Finley to third. He then began his aggressive yet brief attack on Stemler. His charge only lasted for a hand full of laps before Marcoullier seemingly began to fall off as Stemler marched away. Then, with five laps remaining, Marcoullier was suddenly setting up Stemler waiting for a chance to strike. For Marcoullier, that chance was on the final lap as he worked his way around Stemler and came back to the line for his first career Player Hater Wild West Shootout victory. Stemler ended up second at the line by just over a tenth-of-a-second and Finley held on for third.
In the IMCA modified feature, a similar series of events unraveled as AJ Ward set the pace for the better part of the 40 lap feature. Ward held off Jeff Reay for the majority of the race and appeared to be on his way to his first win of the season. That was until Austin Wonch made his presence known, working his way into the top three, before quickly mounting an attack on Ward. With less than 10 laps to go, Wonch had moved around Ward and even survived a late-race caution to go on to collect the win. Ward held on for second, Reay fell back to third.
A new division of race cars also made their debut over the weekend at Winston Speedway, nearly half a dozen Pro Late Models got their first competitive laps around the Speedway. Taylor Wiles came home with the first feature win for the division, holding off Brad Bates and Jordan Dahlke on the podium.
The regular season for Winston Speedway begins in two weeks on Friday, April 16th with a full show including Super Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, Pro Late Models, Street Stocks, Warriors, and Mini Wedges. For more information on Winston Speedway, log onto racewinstonspeedway.com.
Special interviews from the Player Hater Wild West Shootout will be available on the new episode of the Horsepower Happenings' podcast, which premiers Monday night at 9pm. This weekend's social media coverage was presented by Galgoci Oil Company.
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Horsepower Happenings