23 SOD Sprinters drive through rain to Sunny Merritt Speedway
Heavy rains moved through the state on Friday and early Saturday morning washing out many of the Friday shows and leaving Merritt Speedway officials questioning the ability to have the track ready for Saturday’s Sprints On Dirt special event. By noon the skies had cleared and the forecast was good enough for promoters Steve and Stacey Potter to give the green light and press on with track prep.
The night would get started with a short hot lap session for all the support divisions followed by the Sprints On Dirt taking to the track for their only appearance at Merritt Speedway in 2013. Several drivers were clicking off times under 13 seconds during hot laps proving, that the track was indeed ready for a great night heated action.
The Carrick Trucking/Engine Pro Sprints On Dirt presented by ARP feature event was full of excitement and drama as Jared Horstman wasted no time disposing of the front row and taking over the point from inside the second row. Horstman was setting a blistering pace when a mid-race flip off of turn two by Ryan Grubaugh brought out the red flag. Ryan climbed out of the car okay and after a brief delay for the cleanup the action continued with Horstman out front and Dustin Daggett and Gregg Dalman dicing back and forth for the runner up spot. The caution would fly for the final time with just four laps remaining and as Horstman passed the scoring tower under caution, it was evident he had a right rear tire going soft. This would prove fatal for Horstman as Dustin Daggett took over the lead on the ensuing restart with Gregg Dalman passing Horstman on the next lap. In the final laps, Daggett would hold off challenges from Gregg Dalman to score his second feature win of the 2013 season. Dalman settled in for a second place finish followed by Jared Horstman, Chris Pobanz, Robert Huisken, Andy Teunessen, Mike Astrauskas, Nate Bostrom, Chris Jones and Matt Lumbert. In preliminary action, Mike Astrauskas scored the dash win while Andy Teunessen, Robert Huisken and Dustin Dagget carried the checkers in heat race action. Troy Chehowski also took a wild ride off turn three in his heat race but climbed out of the wreckage okay.
The stage was set for a night of exciting finishes by the Jimmy’s Collision Factory Stock Division. On the very first lap of the 15 lap feature, Terry Fancett took out point leader Rick Stewart on the back straight sending Stewart to the pits with a flat tire. Fancett was cited for rough driving and sent to the pits by officials for the remainder of the event. For the next 14 laps the top four battled for position with Mike Epplett on the point. On the final lap the front runners were three wide out of turn two with John Matthews taking over the lead down the back. Epplett, trying everything he could to get back out front drove hard into turn three, got together with Matthews and as these two tangled, Kevin Kroupa took advantage and dove to the bottom to take the win out of turn four. Epplett and Matthews finished in a heap under the flag stand with Mike Epplett being scored in second and John Matthews third. Kenny Keller, Peni Lalonde, Dan Wierman, Andrew Weber, Rick Stewart, Jamie Fancett and Brandon Weber rounded out the top ten. Kenny Keller and Rick Stewart both scored heat race wins in the prelims.
In the Hardcore Performance Pro Truck division, Mark Sheffield carried the checkers in heat race #1 followed by Richie Sutherland and Mike Vandermark while Bobby Liuzzo scored the win in heat #2 over Curtis Rice and Dick Stout. Bobby Liuzzo took the win in the Dash over Garry Hammar, Richie Sutherland and Mike Nelson Jr. Mark Sheffield would lead the field to the green flag in the “A” Main and set the pace with Curtis Rice glued to his tail. On lap #5, Mike Vandermark took over the runner up spot and set his sights on the leader. At the white flag Vandermark pulled alongside Sheffield and the two swapped paint on the final lap with Vandermark just nipping Sheffield at the line to take the win. Bobby Liuzzo finished a close third followed by Curtis Rice, Richie Sutherland, Mike Nelson Jr., Jerry Mynarcik, Garry Hammar and Nate Jones.
Last year’s track Champion, T.J. Erickson scored the Dash win in the WLLZ TV-12 Pro Street division followed by Steven Hilliker, Roger McQueen and Bob Timmer. Heat #1 victory came to Steven Hilliker over T.J. Erickson and Shane Aeschliman while Rick Spencer carried the checkers in the second heat followed by Bob Green and Caleb Kill. Rick Spencer took the lead from the pole as the green flag flew on the feature with Steven Hilliker applying the pressure from inside the second row. As the laps wound down T.J. Erickson had worked his way from 7th to 3rd when the caution came out on lap #17. On the restart, Erickson got past Spencer for the runner up spot but ran out of laps in his pursuit of the leader. Steven Hilliker grabbed the win over T.J. Erickson, Shane Aeschliman, Bob Green, Rick Spencer, Bob Timmer, Caleb Kill, Tim Tabaczka, Bob Fetters Sr. and Jeff Chalker.
The final event capped off a night of thrilling finishes in the Super 8 UMP Modified division. As the green flag dropped on the 25 lap “A” Main, Kevin Miller took the lead from pole sitter Brent Banning with Chad Bauer taking over the runner up spot. On lap 11, Banning would work his way past Bauer for second place and started his assault on the leader. Working the high side, Banning nosed past Miller for the lead but was never able to shake Miller as the two battled side by side the remaining 5 laps. With Miller working the bottom and Banning up top, the two entered the final turn door to door and the drag race to the line was on. At the line it was Kevin Miller by inches over Brent Banning in the closest finish of the year at Merritt Speedway. Rich Robinson Jr. finished a close third followed by Roger Steig, Chad Bauer, Andy Sprague, Joe Rokos, Adam Thrush, Dave Baker and James Clem. Earlier action saw Chad Bauer pick up the Dash win over Kevin Miller, Roger Steig and Brent Banning. Heat races were won by Rich Robinson Jr., Roger Steig and Joe Rokos while Trever Fedewa scored the “B” Main victory over James Clem and Derek Passenier.
Join us this coming Saturday for another thriller as all five regular classes’ battle for Mid-Season Championship honors along with a fan appreciation autograph session and fireworks.
See ya at the track.