Good afternoon fellow racing fans! Hope you each had a nice Labor Day Weekend! This past weekend we closed out our 2017 regular season and the points championships in all of our classes. In addition, we hosted the American Ethanol Late Model and Modified tours.
With incredible help from Roxanne and Spangler Racing, we as a group were able to raise $3,780 in total funds to help Peni Lalonde and her fight against Cancer. Thank you so much to all the fans, drivers, teams and everyone that donated and or bid on a door, made a donation or purchased a 50/50 ticket! Continued prayers for Peni and family are appreciated.
The UMP Late Models closed out their title chase Saturday, with Eric Spangler capturing another championship in impressive fashion. Dona Marcoullier got the victory on Saturday, beating Spangler and Steven Hilliker who finished third. On Sunday, the American Ethanol Late Model Tour was on hand, with Eric Spangler getting the victory over Dona Marcoullier. Great racing was seen on both nights of Late Model action, and we thank the more than 100 different drivers who raced in that class alone in 2017 at Merritt Speedway.
The UMP Modifieds put on two outstanding races Saturday and Sunday, which is really no surprise. Both nights saw Chad Bauer power to the lead and drive away from the field in impressive rare fashion, as he won both feature races to close out the year in really impressive fashion. The points gap was too much to overcome however, as David Mielke who finished second and third respectively last weekend, claimed another track championship. Thank you to all 60+ drivers who raced a UMP Mod with us this season, and we look forward to having this class back again in 2018 and seeing how it plays out.
One of our two new divisions, the B Modifieds, had great racing all season long. Cody Bauer was consistently up front and won the division championship - congratulations to him! Saturday, point runner-up John Taylor got back into victory lane again, while Timmy Near won on Sunday night in his 71. 57 B Modified drivers raced at #MPDT over the course of the season, and we’re excited to see how this division continues to grow and develop as we move forward.
Jordan Erickson has run up front for a while in the Lightning Sprint division, and was able to capitalize on a stellar season and captured the track championship. Congratulations to him and his team on a great year. Jordan got the victory as well on Saturday night, while Mack Erickson went to victory lane on Sunday. 25 Sprint drivers raced with us this season, and we thank them all for putting on wicked fast racing all season!
The Pro Stock class evolved over the course of the season, and resulted in a really tight point battle that came down to the final race of the season. TJ Erickson got it done, and is our latest division champ! Rob Westergard and Marc Super made him earn it, just a handful of points out after the dust settled. Kevin Newberry got a big win on Saturday night, while Westergard got the final division win of the regular season on Sunday. Just short of 60 different drivers raced a Pro Stock at Merritt this year and we hope to have more of the same action-packed races again in 2018!
Rick Spencer drove to victory lane on six occasions in the 2017 season in his Factory Stock, earning the division championship in impressive style. One of those came on Saturday night, as Spencer drove to victory lane, while Jim Miller Jr got the win on Sunday. A stout 68 different competitors started a feature in the factory stock division this past year, and we look forward to continuing this class in 2018 with the return of that same support from the racers.
Eight time feature winner Willard VanHaitsma flexed his muscle all season, and captured the Four Cylinder track championship, competing with 66 different drivers throughout 2017. VanHaitsma closed out the year in deserving style, getting the victory, while Nick Jenema got the big win on Saturday night. Special recognition to Chad Tomczak and Austin Harnick, who both raced hard all season long and finished second and third respectively in the final season standings. The Four Cylinders are my favorite class to watch, and I look for more big things to come for them next season again!
Last but not least, our youngsters of the Mini Wedge division raced for their final time of 2017 on Sunday night, as we also hosted the Mini Wedge Association series final points race of the year. Andrew Bogart got the victory in the unrestricted class, while young Chase Strunk went to victory lane in restricted. Congratulations to Steven Niewenhuis, our 2017 Mini Wedge track champion, who edged Katie Robinson on the final night to get the title. 40 Different young boys and girls raced at Merritt this year and we thank each and every one of them.
I’ve often thought to myself in Mid-October, that we could be racing on a warm Saturday afternoon. That is the reason behind our last-minute decision to try and race our ‘Indian Summer Special’. Provided the weather is at least fairly warm, we will host events on either October 14 or 21, with the green flag for racing at 4pm. Rules will be opened up slightly to allow anyone with a racecar to come join us for some fun, one last time before the snow flies. Stay tuned to our Facebook page and website as the time approaches for the latest info.
The 2017 awards banquet will be held at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant! Tickets will be available for sale conveniently online this week, and will also be able to be sent through the mail similar to past seasons. Tickets will be $35, same as past years, and will include dinner, awards, dancing and fun.
I cannot thank the staff enough for their commitment all season long, making it possible for us to hold races every weekend throughout the year. The staff, along with the racers who put on the show, and the fans who join us week in and week out, I thank you for a great year. As most know, it was a challenge at times this season, but the continuous positive uplifting comments and support offered was incredible and I really cannot wait for 2018 to begin already.
Updates will continue throughout the off season, so don’t go away! Thank you again everyone for your support.