Lake City, MI (Saturday, July 11, 2021) - The first trip to Merritt Speedway in 2021 for the Great Lakes Super Sprints Presented by Engine Pro and ARP brought out 27 of the area's top 360 drivers to battle around the 3/8ths mile bullring in northern Michigan. The event marked the finale of a big double-header weekend for the series and was partnered with the Great Lakes Traditional Sprints Presented by PERFIT and the Great Lakes Lightning Sprints Presented by Maxima Racing Oils.
A fast race track was prepared for the Great Lakes Family of Sprint Cars with Qualifying starting the night for all three divisions. GLSS drivers nearly broke a five year standing track record at Merritt Speedway when Danny Sams set fast time at 12.054 seconds - just missing the 12.046 record set by Dustin Daggett in 2016. A scary moment during qualifying when Cody Howard got high at the exit of turn four and backflipped into the catch fence in front of the fans. In dramatic fashion, one of Howard’s tires flew into the grandstand area, but cleared the stands and fell into the concourse area. No fans or drivers were injured.
After the heat races and B-Main (Last Chance Qualifier) the field was set for 25 laps. Linden Jones and Dan McCarron brought the field around to the green flag in front of a solid crowd. McCarron jumped out to the early lead as Jones quickly fell back to fourth. The race was slowed quickly on lap two when Zane DeVault spun off the nose of Daggett at the exit of turn two; as drivers attempted to avoid DeVault, Sams and Eli Lakin got locked together as well as the caution flew. All drivers were able to continue.
McCarron continued to pace the field as the laps clicked off and drivers attempted to find a way to pass around the seemingly one lane track. Sams, who transferred into the show through the B-main after mechanical issues in his heat race, was coming from the back of the pack for his lap two caution and found great momentum on the top of the track. Sams began clicking off cars and was battling with Daggett for a top five spot late in the race, when he got loose in turns one and two and spun in front of the field drawing the second caution of the race.
The restart was again controlled by McCarron, but an antsy Ryan Ruhl followed closely behind McCarron looking for an opportunity to strike. With five laps to go McCarron began working through lapped traffic and became caught behind Tyler Bearden and Mike Astrauskas as they battled for position. This allowed Ruhl to try and set up a pass for the win.
With just two laps to go, McCarron slid slightly higher on his entrance into turn one, opening the door for Ruhl to stick his nose under McCarron at the exit of turn two. Ruhl took control of the top spot down the backstretch and held the lead through the checkered flag, collecting his third win of the season.
In the GLTS, Keith Sheffer, Jr came from the pole to win his first career GLTS feature and Brendon Cascadden grabbed the GLLS feature. The next event for the Great Lakes Super Sprints Presented by Engine Pro and ARP is on Friday, July 30th at I-96 Speedway and then Saturday, July 31st at Fremont Speedway. For more information on the Great Lakes Super Sprints, log onto www.GreatLakesSprints.com. Follow the Great Lakes Super Sprints on Facebook and Twitter.
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Jim DenHamer