Lake City, MI (Tuesday, May 18, 2021) - The Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series was the headlining event at the Merritt Speedway this past Saturday night. The high-powered UMP DIRTcar Late Models squared off in a $5000 to win main event for the second race of the 2021 season. The show also featured a $1500 to win special for the Auto Value Pro Stocks division. The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges, Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Troll Smokehouse B-Modifieds, Thirlby Automotive Factory Stocks, and XLT Engineering Four & Six Cylinders.
The evening began with the Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges. Tucker Warner won the feature event for the restricted division, finishing ahead of Cason Murphy, and Alexis Bowen. In the un-restricted division saw Jeremy Tabaczka pick up the win. Hunter Evans, and Keeton Cade. The preliminary heat races were won by Warner (restricted) and Cade (unrestricted).
The Troll Smokehouse B-Modifieds competed in a 20-lap feature event. Keven Strehlke and Chase Rosebrugh led the field to the green flag. Strehlke pulled away with the early race lead. He would hold the top position until lap 5. That would be when Rosebrugh would make the pass and take the lead for himself. He would go on from there to visit the winner’s circle. The West Branch, Michigan native scored his first win of the season in the #5b. Collin Thirlby finished second. Drew Wilkerson, Corey Finley, and Richie Sutherland rounded out the top five. Thirlby and Wilkerson won the heat races.
The 20-lap Thirlby Automotive Factory Stocks feature event rolled onto the speedway next with Dave Crawford and Anthony Vinton on the first row. After the completion of the first circuit however, it was Ryan Nethers who would lead. Despite the rest of the fields attempts, there was no stopping Nethers as he would go on to lead every lap and pick up the win. This was the Mount Pleasant, Michigan drivers first win of the season in his #41. Jacob Flickinger finished second. 3-time track champion Rick Spencer, Josh Loomis, and Andrew Bogart completed the top five. The heat races were won by Bogart and Flickinger.
The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifeds were led out by Casey Keyosky and 3-time track champion Chad Bauer for a 25-lap A-Main. Bauer stormed off with the top spot at the drop of the green flag. Bauer would maintain command until lap 18, where he would see 2011-UMP DIRTcar Michigan Regional Champion Jacob Poel power past to take the lead. Poel went on to pick up the win. This was the 34-year old Spring Lake, Michigan native’s first win of the year in his #82. Bauer was forced to settle for second. Caleb Kill, Collin Thirlby, and Joe Rokos finished off the top five. Wyatt Baker, Kill, and 5-time track champion Brent Banning won the heats.
The 40-lap $5000 to win A-Main for the Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series was out next. 5-time track champion David Hilliker and Mike Vandermark Jr. brought the field down to the green flag. Vandermark would grab the early race advantage. On lap 14 things would change when Chad Finley would take the lead over. There would be no stopping the Saint Johns, Michigan driver from scoring the big win, as he went on to collect the big payday. This was the first win of the year for the 29-year old in his #42. Dona Marcoullier was the runner up finisher. Vandermark, Hilliker, and Greg Gokey capped off the top five. The preliminary heat races were won by Jeep Van Wormer, Vandermark, and Gokey. Cody Bauer was the fastest overall qualifier with a 13.811 lap time.
The Auto Value Pro Stocks hit the track for their $1500 to win special event. Merv Hudson and Ken Small started on the front row. Hudson pulled out front with the early race lead. Things wouldn’t change until lap 16. That was when Andrew Steele made a pass to take the lead over. Hudson would answer, taking the lead back on lap 23. Steele would lead at the white flag. However when the dust settled it would be 2020-track champion Nate Murphy who powered his way by on the final lap to win the event. Murphy, the 31-year-old native of Coleman, Michigan notched his first win of the season in his #69. Hudson took second. Steele, Dustin Weber, and Rob Brillhart rounded out the top five. Steele and Brendan Powell scored the heat wins.
The final A-Main of the night belonged to the XLT Engineering Four & Six Cylinders. Prescott, Michigan’s Herb Freeman won the 15-lap main. He finished in front of Dylan Vermilyea who finished second. Allen Oyer, Clay Lachcik, and Ty Phillips. David Harrington and Chad Freeman won the heats.
This Saturday May 22nd Merritt Speedway will host “Factory Stock Night”. The Thirlby Automotive Factory Stocks will race for a $1500 to win special. The XLT Engineering Four & Six Cylinders will also race for a $600 to win special event. The Soaring Eagle UMP Late Models, Troll Smokehouse B-Modifieds, Auto Value Pro Stocks, and Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges will all be in action as well. Stay tuned to the Merritt Speedway social media pages for all the latest updates.
Story - Brian Osborne, Merritt Speedway
Photo - Randy Ellen