Hello all. Hope you each had a nice weekend! Saturday was interesting weather wise, as it was sunny and beautiful when I left Cadillac, and when I arrived at Merritt, it was soaked with puddles everywhere. Things cleared up late in the evening and we had a nice car count and good turnout for Fan Appreciation Night. Our grounds crew accidentally clipped the scoring loop line while weed whacking last week, which forced us to skip qualifying while that was fixed, and was good to go for racing. The autograph session went well, and we want to thank all the racers who brought goodies, candy and signed for the fans. Always cool to see.
The track on Saturday was almost too wet to race on, as there was so much moisture a couple inches down that caused the track to rut up in some spots. This is the first time we’ve faced that since I bought the speedway, and I can assure you that we will have it smooth and ready to go this coming weekend as the surface you all know.
The Mini Wedges are always our first feature of the evening, and they actually put on a pretty good show while having to run the big track. On that note, we try really hard to provide the best opportunity for the youngsters to learn how to race, and more importantly have fun. The temporary track on the front stretch was deemed to be too muddy, which is why we shifted late to the big track. Moving forward, if the actual wedge track is underwater, we will figure out a way to always have them run the small track on the front stretch, after the consensus vote taken by the wedge parents last week. Special congratulations to Lillian Erickson who got her first win at Merritt on Saturday in her #07, and to Katie Robinson who won again in the unrestricted class.
The Pro Stock division has been very competitive all year and was once again on Saturday. Mike Vandermark Jr had to come from the tail of the feature, and passed 18 cars to claim another feature win. TJ Gilbert would finish second, over Rob Westergard. Rob currently holds a 7-point lead over TJ Erickson in the Pro Stock division, with Marc Super 12-points back.
Our newest division, the B Modified class had a great race. John Taylor has been really strong all season, and was finally able to close it out and reach Allstar Performance Victory Lane Saturday, over Myron DeYoung and Jacob Flickinger. Taylor now trails Cody Bauer by 24-points with three nights of racing left.
Defending Merritt UMP Late Model champ Eric Spangler showed the way again on Saturday, but had Andrew Terrill hot on his heels again this week as the 4 car has really found some speed over the last month. Nick Kurtz always runs well on a heavier track, and finished third, over Chris Brindley who had another strong run and Steven Hilliker fifth. Spangler currently sits 37-points ahead of Terrill in the season standings.
David Mielke turned things up Saturday, as the Gladwin driver went to victory lane for the third time this year, while Joe Rokos was again on the cusp of a win in the closing laps for the second week in row. Collin Thirlby started ninth and drove his way to finish a strong third, over Chad Bauer and Dave Baker. Mielke and Rokos are separated by just 4-points, in a battle that could very well come down to the last few laps of the year. Chad Bauer is still in the mix, only 22-points out of the lead.
The Factory Stock division has had stout racing as well week in and week out all season. After the inversion, Rick Spencer would drive back up through the field and capture the victory, edging Mike Vandermark Jr, with Mike Currie finishing third. This division will race 8-lap heats and 20-lap features for the duration of the 2017 season, in hopes to bolster the car count and provide drivers with a good number of laps to compete for wins.
A few notes…
After speaking with Mini Wedge parents, we will host that class on Saturday, August 26 INSTEAD of August 27 during the World of Outlaw weekend. The kids go back to school on Monday, so we will accommodate that with this change. Also, reminder to our UMP Modifieds, that you will race BOTH Saturday and Sunday, Aug 26 & 27. You were originally only scheduled for Sunday until about a month ago, when added to Saturday.
Be sure to join us as we draw the 2017 season to a close over the next few weeks, beginning with the Open Wheel Spectacular this Saturday. Not only will we have racing from the Sprints on Dirt and non-winged Michigan Traditional Sprints, but also our UMP Late Models, UMP Modifieds, Lightning Sprints, Factory Stocks, Four Cylinders and Mini Wedges too! Then of course, the big one… the 2nd Annual Keyser’s Great Lakes Shootout featuring the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Tell your neighbors, bring your friends and family and don’t miss that Saturday and Sunday special. 75-laps and $15,000-to-Win on Sunday will be GOOOOD.
Last item of note…
As most of you know, we started the month of July out with a huge bang. It was a dream, to have that many cars, competitors, and fans at Merritt Speedway as we did over the Fourth holiday. From that, caused a great deal of confusion and frustration particularly related to driver payout. What I can tell you, is that I did not buy Merritt Speedway, invest all resources that we have, and devoted ourselves to the track… to simply let it go bad. It is not, and will not. Merritt has an incredible group of drivers, teams, and fans that support it week in and out and I couldn’t be prouder to have them.
If you have a check issue or not received one, please just call me and will next day air it. 616-291-4781. We have been handling every single person directly and immediately when aware of a problem stemming from payout. I have not and will not screw anyone over with money owed to them. We’ve been primarily paying with cash the last few weeks for reassurance to drivers, but you don’t get to where I am in life by abusing others financially. Although certain people would love to see me fail we aren’t going anywhere and will only become stronger and better through it all. I am doing my best and we will not fail.
Full steam ahead to close out the season in style! Make sure to join us and until then,