Gary Vandermark
Gary Vandermark

Gary Vandermark
Lowell, MI

Stemler Dominates Challenge Series Feature at Merritt Speedway


Merritt Speedway

Stemler Dominates Challenge Series Feature at Merritt Speedway

7/26/2020: (Lake City, MI): Sweltering temps return as did the racing action for the Merritt Speedway this past Saturday evening. The Lake City, Michigan 1/4-mile dirt oval featured a full racing program headlined by the high-powered UMP DIRTcar Late Models facing off for $3000 to win in the fifth race of the Allstar Performance Challenge Series presented by American Ethanol. The Auto Value Pro Stocks competed in a $600 to win special event. The show also included the Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges, Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Diesel Freak B-Modifieds, Lake City Materials Factory Stocks, and XLT Engineering Four & Six Cylinders.

The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedges started the night off with the running of the heats and features. The “restricted” (restrictor plate) division was up first and saw Troy Yetter win the feature event. Addy Wade, Leilynd Strehlke, Caleb Jenema, and Vivian Nelson completed the top five. In the “Un-Restricted” (No restrictor plate) division it was Greyson Brindley scoring the big win. Hunter Evans, Cole Shanteau, Hollie Tabaczka, and Jeremy Tabaczka rounded out the top five finishers. The heat races were won by Nelson (restricted) and Brindley (un-restricted). 

The 20-lap Auto Value Pro Stocks rolled out for their A-Main with Michael Hillard and Dale Sunderman on the front row. Sunderman pulled off with the lead after the drop of the green flag. The lead would change hands on lap 3 when Adam Erickson would take over. Erickson would stay there until lap 14 when after a caution he pulled into the pit area surrendering the lead to Nate Murphy who went on from there to get the win. This was the second win of the year for the 31-year old Murphy from Coleman, Michigan who drove the American Sewer Cleaners #69 to victory lane. 19-year old Danielle Robinson finished second. Teri Lynn Murphy, Andrew Steele, and Oliver Hillard rounded out the top five. 17-year old Austin Harnick and Tim Murphy won the heats.

The Cadillac Tire Center UMP DIRTcar Modifieds hit the track for their 25-lap main event with Paul Johnson and Rick Swartout on the first row. Johnson took the lead after the opening lap. His lead would last until lap 3 when Joe Rokos made the pass for the top position. Rokos held firm until lap 20 when Luke Hubbell took over as the leader. Hubbell would go on to make the trip to victory lane. This was the first career win at Merritt Speedway for the 28-year old Hubbell, who calls Hastings, Michigan home, behind the wheel of his One Ethanol #23. 2-time track champion Chad Bauer finished right behind in second. Collin Thirlby, Rokos, and Brian Brindley completed the top five. Caleb Kill, Bauer, and Thirlby won the heat races. 

Scott Smith and 17-year old Bryan Cook led out the 20-lap feature event for the Lake City Materials Factory Stocks. Smith stormed off with the lead after the initial drag race into turn 1. Smith would be challenged on lap 2 when Cook grabbed the lead. Cook continued from there until lap 9 when he would suffer a flat tire which gave the lead back to Smith who went on from there to pick up the win. This was the first win of the year for the 38-year old Smith from West Branch, Michigan in his #74. 2-time track champion Rick Spencer finished second. Chuck Powell, Alan Markel, and Brendan Powell capped off the top five. Spencer and Chuck Powell won the heats. 

The XLT Engineering Four & Six Cylinders competed in a 15-lap main. Jeremiah Hill and Brook Goodrich brought the field down to the green flag. After the opening circuit it was 2019-track champion Cheyanne Emery who took the lead. Emery would hold the top position until lap 14 when the white flag waved signaling one lap to go 16-year old Dylan Vermilyea charged up to the front of the field and went on to score the win. This was the first career win for Vermilyea the native of Cadillac, Michigan in his #12. Emery had to settle for second. Travis Skaggs, Nick Jenema, and 14-year old Clay Lachcik made up the rest of the top five. David Harrington and Skaggs picked up the heat wins. 
The $3000 to win Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge series race was led out by Travis Stemler and Logan Nickerson. The field of 24 cars went 50 laps. Stemler took command of the race lead in the early going with the fierce battle for position going on behind him. However, despite what the rest of the field did, there was no stopping Stemler as he would lead the entire event from start to finish. This was the first win of the season for the 29-year old Stemler who is a native of Ionia, Michigan, driving the Heinz Tree Service #4. 6-time track champion Eric Spangler finished second after working his way up from 19th. 2019-track champion David Mielke, Dona Marcoullier, and Brandon Thirlby completed the top five. The heat races were won by Stemler, Andrew Terrill, and Nickerson. 3-time UMP DIRTcar national champion Rusty Schlenk was the overall fast qualifier with a 13.697 lap time. 

The Diesel Freak B-Modifieds were the final feature event of the night. The 20-lap race was brought to the green by a front row consisting of Collin Thirlby and Gary Vandermark. The green flag waved and Vandermark jumped out with the lead. That turned out to be the only move he needed to make as he went on from there to pick up the win. This was the eighth win of the season for the 50-year old Vandermark from Lowell, Michigan in the Showboat Automotive #10. Josh Loomis finished second. Craig Vance, Myron DeYoung, and Thirlby rounded out the top five. Richie Sutherland and DeYoung were the heat race winners. 

This Saturday August 1st the Merritt Speedway returns with another full racing program with all divisions racing. The high-powered UMP DIRTcar Late Models will lead the show along with the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, B-Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Factory Stocks, Four & Six Cylinders, and Mini-Wedges. Follow the Merritt Speedway Facebook page for all of the latest news and updates regarding all of our future events.

Article Credit: Brian Osborne

Submitted By: Brian Osborne

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