Lake Odessa, MI (Saturday, July 3, 2021) - In the return to racing for the Great Lakes Super Sprints presented by Engine Pro and ARP, fans were again treated to a thrilling race at I-96 Speedway. A total of 23 cars checked in for the chance to collect the win and go to victory lane at the end of 25 laps.
The night started at a blistering pace when Elkhart, Indiana’s Linden Jones set fast time with an average lap speed of over 100 Mile Per Hour. The lap was good enough for Jones’ first career Fast Qualifier Award.
Through heat races and the redraw the field was set to do battle around the fast I-96 Speedway. Kyle Poortenga and Gregg Dalman led the field to the green flag. Poortenga jumped out to an early lead but was quickly slowed on lap two when Chris Jones slowed down the backstretch. Poortenga continued to pace the field until lap seven, when Lima, Ohio’s Max Stambaugh powered around the outside and to the lead. As Stambaugh took the lead, the race was slowed for the second time when Keith Sheffer, Jr slowed to a stop at the top of turns one and two.
Stambaugh survived the restart for the next three laps before 2016 champion, Chase Ridenour used the extreme top of the track to go around Stambaugh at the exit of turn four. Ridenour appeared he would be the driver to beat, opening up a 10 car length advantage over Stambaugh. Ridenour also survived a restart of his own when Frankie Neil slowed down the front stretch and came to a stop in turn one. The issue for Neil nearly caused bigger problems as when his car failed in turn four, his car shot toward the outside of the race track and nearly collected third place running Brad Lamberson.
On the lap 16 restart, Ridenour again raced out to a comfortable advantage over Stambaugh and Lamberson. The entire complexion of the race changed though with just five laps to go when Jett Mann spun in turns three and four, directly in front of the leaders. Ridenour had nowhere to go and made contact with Mann, spinning wildly off the turn four embankment. Stambaugh also encountered damage to his Home Pro Roofing machine folding the nose wing down.
The night was over for Ridenour, and Stambaugh again led the field for the remaining four laps. Lamberson couldn’t stay close to Stambaugh in the final restarts to mount a challenge for the top spot. Another reset on lap 21 for a stopped Levi Poortenga proved to be no issue for Stambaugh who marched on to the win.
Lamberson followed Stambaugh across the line in second, Danny Sams came from seventh to finish third, Gregg Dalman finished fourth and Phil Gressman rounded out the top five. Linden Jones, who had a mechanical issue in his heat race, came from the 20th starting spot to finish 12th, collecting the Hoosier Racing Tire Hard Charger Award.
The Great Lakes Super Sprints Presented by Engine Pro and ARP are back in action tonight at Crystal Motor Speedway for the final event at Crystal in 2021. Pit Gates open Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM. For more on the Great Lakes Super Sprints, log onto www.GreatLakesSprints.com.
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Jim DenHamer