Neiser, Mielke, Sutherland and Ward Score Big in Topless 50 at Merritt Speedway
Once again Mother Nature shined brightly for the “Topless 50” at Merritt Speedway this past Saturday night. The action started with qualifying for the Pizza Hut UMP Late Models, Super 8 UMP Modifieds and the Hardcore Performance Pro Trucks. Justin McNeill of Houghton Lake would top the charts in the UMP Late Model division with a quick time of 13.62 while Chad Bauer of Farwell turned in fast time of the night for the UMP Modified division at 14.40. Mark Sheffield of St. Helen set a NEW TRACK RECORD in the Pro Truck division just nipping the old record of 15.90 with a lap of 15.88.
The UMP Late Model four car dash would be first on track with Scott Phillips leading the field to the green flag. On lap #2, fast qualifier, Justin McNeill suffered a horrific wreck barrel rolling several times off of turn 3 and coming to rest upside down in his #15 Rayburn late model. Justin climbed out of the car OK and in a post-race interview told the fans his throttle had stuck coming down the back stretch causing the violent roll over. He claimed to be a little sore but otherwise had no serious injuries. After a brief red flag, the action would continue with Eric Spangler carrying the checkers over Scott Phillips, Mike Kresnak and McNeill. Josh Knoll made his way to victory lane in the first of two heat races over Mike Kresnak and Eric Spangler. Heat #2 victory went to David Hilliker followed by Rich Neiser and Andy Chester. Jordan Erickson of Traverse City would lead the field to the green flag in the feature with Rich Neiser of Fruitport on the outside of the front row. Neiser jumped into the lead with the rest of the field battling for position behind him. On lap #2 the caution would fly for Scott Phillips who flew off turn three and ended up parked against the trees near the pit entrance. Phillips was towed to the pits and done for the remainder of the event. On the restart Rich Neiser would once again lead the field for the next 19 laps with David Hilliker in hot pursuit. The front runners had their hands full with lapped traffic until the caution came out with 5 laps to go for debris in turn 1. With a clear track in front of him Rich would drive on to score his third feature win of the season. Eric Spangler battled to a runner up finish in the closing laps followed by Chris Brindley, David Hilliker and Bill Bray was 5th from 18th. Josh Knoll, Jordan Erickson, Andy Galgoci, Jeremy Tulick and Dave Bowen rounded out the top ten.
In Super 8 UMP Modified action, David Mielke of Gladwin scored the dash win followed by Brent Banning, Jeff Cade and Chad Bauer. Roger Steig of Reed City carried the checkers in heat #1 over David Mielke and Chad Bauer while Brent Banning of West Branch picked up the final heat race win followed by Jeff Cade and Brian Kiester. In the feature event, Chad Bauer took the lead as the green flag dropped with David Mielke working over his back bumper. With ten to go in the 25 lap event, Mielke found away past the #19 of Bauer and drove on to score his second feature win of the year at Merritt Speedway. Chad Bauer would hold on to finish second followed by Kevin Miller, Roger Steig, Jeff Cade, Brent Banning, Brian Brindley, Larry Cade, Trever Fedewa and Brian Kiester.
Richie Sutherland of Merritt found himself in victory lane for the first time of the night in the Hardcore Performance Pro Truck Dash crossing the line ahead of Jerry Mynarcik, Mike Nelson Jr. and Mark Sheffield. Sutherland was back in the winner’s circle at the end of the heat race followed by Mark Sheffield and Mike Nelson Jr. As the green flag flew on the “A” Main, it looked as if Mark Sheffield was going to steel the thunder from Sutherland as Sheffield led the first 10 laps of the 20 lap event. On lap 11 Sheffield suffered mechanical problems and dropped from competition. Richie Sutherland would lead the remaining laps and break out the broom in victory lane sweeping the nights events in the Pro Truck division. Bobby Liuzzo finished in the runner up position followed by Garry Hammar, Mike Nelson Jr., Mark Sheffield and Jerry Mynarcik. Richie Sutherland’s performance on the night also propelled him into the point lead over Mike Nelson Jr. by just 3 points.
Hiram’s Lightning Sprints presented by B.H. Hobart Jewelers made their first visit of the year to Merritt Speedway with Justin Ward of Benzonia taking the win in heat #1 over Bill Dunham and Tom Hunt. Randy Plamondon of Traverse City scored the win in heat #2 followed by Ricky Droke and Mack Erickson. In the feature event, Justin Ward would take the lead from the pole and pace the field the entire 15 laps for the win. At the mid-race point, Tom Hunt moved into the runner up spot and started his assault on the leader but ran out of laps and had to settle for a second place finish. Bill Dunham, Ron Ramoie, Rusty Reyelts, Randy Plamondon, Mack Erickson, Chuck Erickson, Ricky Droke and Pauly Erickson rounded out the top ten.
Coming to Merritt Speedway this Saturday, June 29th will the feature the Engine Pro “Sprints On Dirt”.
See ya Saturday at the track,