Lake City, MI (Sunday, July 4, 2021) - This past weekend the Independence Day holiday was ushered in by a special 2-day event at the Merritt Speedway in Lake City, Michigan. Saturday night featured a regular full race program for the fast 1/4-mile dirt oval. This was followed up on Sunday night with another jam-packed program headlined by the $10,000 to win event for the Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series presented by Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. The Troll Smokehouse B-Modifieds raced for a $1500 to win special. The Thirlby Automotive Factory Stocks compeated in a $800 to win special, and the XLT Engineering Four&Six Cylinders faced off for a $500 to win event. The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Auto Value Pro Stocks, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges were all on hand for the entire action-packed weekend.
The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges kicked the action on both nights. The restricted division would see Ella Bringer score the win on Sunday evening finishing ahead of Colton Bowen and Alexis Bowen. Vivian Nelson won the feature on Saturday. The Un-restricted division Sunday feature would be won by Landyn Neitling with Ryan Read and Addy Wade rounding out the top three. Parker McKinney won the Saturday feature event.
The Troll Smokehouse B-Modifieds hit the speedway for a 25-lap feature event for $1500 to win. 18-year old Austin Harnick and Kevin Miller brought the field down to the green flag. Harnick would take the lead after the opening lap. Despite the best efforts of the rest of the field, Harnick would not be denied as he lead the entire event from start to finish going on to pick up the win. This was the 18-year old Clare, Michigan natives third win of the season in his #15h. Collin Thirlby finished second. Miller, Chad Spencer, and Jacob Flickinger completed the top five. West Branch, Michigan Chase Rosebrugh won the feature event on Saturday night.
The XLT Engineering Four and Six Cylinders squared off for $500 to win 15-lap feature event. Allen Hite and Mike Currier started on the front row when the A-Main got underway. Hite pulled away in the early going with the race advantage. Hite’s lead lasted until lap 4 when Shane Wiggins completed the pass for the top position. Wiggins would go on from there to score the win. Wiggins, the native of Palo, Michigan went back to back with winning both Saturday and Sunday’s feature events. Hite would settle for second. Ryan Hamm, Herb Freeman, and Clay Lachcik finished the top five.
The Auto Value Pro Stocks ran in a 20-lap feature event led by Tim Tabaczka and Andrew Steele. Tabaczka stormed off with the lead after the opening lap. He would stay until lap 5 when Steele would power past with the lead. Things would change one more time when Tabaczka charged back to the front of the field and regained the advantage on lap 12. Tabaczka, who calls Free Soil, Michigan home earned his first win of the year in the #45. Steele finished second. 2020-track champion Nate Murphy, Anthony Schweifler and Danielle Robinson capped off the top five. Murphy was the winner on Saturday night.
The Cadillac Tire Center DIRTcar UMP Modifieds rolled onto the racing surface for a 25-lap main with Joe Rokos and Collin Thirlby on the front row. Rokos would grab the early race lead after the first circuit. Thirlby answered back taking the lead on lap 2. However, Rokos would manage to trade for the lead again on lap 3. Rokos would lead the rest of the event going on to make the visit to victory lane. This would mark the first win of the year for the Interlochen, Michigan driver in the #77. Jeff Erickson Jr. would finish second. Thirlby, Caleb Kill, and 2-time track champion Rich Robinson Jr. rounded out the top five. 3-time track champion Chad Bauer won the feature on Saturday.
The $800 to win special for the Thirlby Automotive Factory Stocks hit the speedway led by Bryan Cook and Justin Miller. The 25-lap main event rolled off with the 2016-track champion Jim Miller Jr. charging up to the front of the field to lead after lap 1. Miller would hold the position until on lap 18, Jake Thompson would navigate his way through the ranks and pull of the pass for the lead. Thompson would not look back from there to get the victory. This would be the first win of the season for the Birch Run, Michigan native in his #50. Miller finished second. 3-time track champion Rick Spencer, Scott Smith, and Nick Putman completed the top five. Spencer was the feature winner on Saturday.
2020-Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series Champion Travis Stemler and Chad Finley brought the 50-lap DIRTcar Late Model feature event to the track. The $10,000 to win main also served as a sanctioned race for the Sunoco American Late Model Series. Stemler jumped out with the early race advantage after the green flag waved. That turned out to be the last move Stemler would have to make as he would lead the entire event from start to finish. The Ionia, Michigan driver scored his first win of the season in the #4. Finley would settle for second. Greg Gokey, 2-time track champion David Mielke, and Mike Vandermark Jr. finished out the top five finishers. On Saturday night, Curtis Roberts picked up the win.
The Merritt Speedway will return this Saturday July 10th with “Open Wheel Night” featuring the return of the Great Lakes Super Sprints. The Winged sprint cars will journey to Northern Michigan for their first visit of the season. The members of the Great Lakes Traditional Sprints will be joining them, as well as the Great Lakes Lightning Sprints. The Cadillac Tire Center DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, Troll Smokehouse B-Modifieds, XLT Engineering Four & Six Cylinders, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges will all be part of the show as well. Stay tuned to the Merritt Speedway Facebook Page for all of the latest updates.
Story - Brian Osborne, Merritt Speedway
Photo - Randy Ellen