Lake Odessa, Michigan (Saturday, September 24th, 2011): The 2011 racing season came to an end on Saturday, September 24th at I-96 Speedway with the running of the 4th annual Dirt Gold Cup Championship Extravaganza! After taking the last three weekends off to allow for other area facilities to conduct their 2011 season finales, it was the Lake Odessa, Michigan speed plants’ turn to wrap up the 2011 campaign.
The fire breathing, winged warriors of the Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt Presented by ARP headlined the racing action while it was also the 2011 Season Championships for the remaining three divisions within the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) DIRTcar Racing Series as the Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds, Renegade Racing Fuels & Lubricants UMP Street Stocks, and Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts officially crowned their 2011 Track Champions and Rookies of the Year respectively. All four divisions challenged the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile high-banked dirt oval. A total of 91 teams were in the pits.
After all the Preliminary Events were completed, the first Feature of the night to roll out would be the 25-lap Season Championship Feature for the Renegade Racing Fuels & Lubricants UMP Street Stocks. Before the night had even started, current points leader Bill Brandt Jr., had already clinched the 2011 Track Championship back on August 27th after winning his third Feature of the season almost a month ago. So he put Dan Zylstra in the car for the evening.
The chase for the 2011 Rookie of the Year title would go down to the wire between recently turned 16-year-old Carlind Forsythe and Bruce Howe as the two Freshman would battle it out with Forsythe carrying a 29-point lead over Howe going into the Feature. If Forsythe finished seventh or better, he would wrap up the title no matter where Howe finished.
19-year-old rookie, Trey Cotter and Rich Sweet brought the field to the green flag and it would be Sweet leading lap one. On lap two, 2010 Rookie of the Year, Ron Harper drove to the inside of Sweet to take over the top spot and he brought Derek Poland with him. Poland, who came into the night second in the UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Northeastern States Points Standings behind Dan Dykman, worked on Harper before grabbing the lead on lap eight.
Dykman, who started shotgun on the field in 17th position, rocketed his way through the field and was soon up to third spot behind the second place car of Cody Denny as Dykman followed Denny by Harper. A caution on lap nine brought the field together and on the restart, Denny and Dykman collided sending both around. Denny was done for the night while Dykman, who had his left front fender and front bumper torn off, restarted at the rear of the field and once again had his work cut out for him.
As Poland continued to lead the way, Dykman again worked his way back through the pack and caught Poland’s back bumper with just two laps to go. Dykman edged Poland at the line on the white flag lap and as they drove through turns one and two, the collided sending both around. Sweet, who worked his way back up to third ducked underneath both spinning cars and the Hastings, Michigan driver in his #74 Sweet Machine Repair Chevrolet would take the checkered flag to win his first Feature of the year.
After all the chaos of the last lap dramatics, Josh Frye would pick up second place ahead of Harper as Hillary Smith and Josh Sternberg completed the top five. Poland recovered to finish sixth, but Dykman limped across the line behind him to clinch the 2011 UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Northeastern States Championship. Harvey Wyskowski was eighth as Forsythe finishing ninth to clinch the 2011 Rookie of the Year title. Cotter completed the top 10. There were 17 teams on the grounds.
As has been the case all season long at I-96 Speedway, all teams within UMP do not Qualify and instead draw for their starting positions in their Qualifier Heat Races with those finishes determining the starting line-ups in the Features. Then the drivers who advance from the B Mains (if needed), tag onto the back of those Features. Denny and Poland won those Qualifier Heat Races.
The tracks’ beginners division, the Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts rolled out next for their 25-lap Season Championship Feature and just like in the previous race, current points leader, Rick Peck had already clinched the 2011 Track Championship by winning the last Feature held at I-96 back on August 27th. This time in the 2011 Season Championship Feature, Peck was looking to put an exclamation point on an already successful sophomore season for the 2010 18 Years Old and Over Rookie of the Year.
As for the Freshman title chases, by merely starting the Season Championship Feature, Kyle Brigance would lock up the 2011 18 Years Old and Over Rookie of the Year title while the 17 Years Old and Under Rookie battle would be decided between recently turned 16-year-old Jordan King and 10-year-old Christopher Joyce as the two teenagers were separated by 20 markers heading into the Feature. If King finished fourth or better, he would clinch the Rookie title no matter where Joyce finished the Feature.
Tim Horvath II and Brigance would lead the 21-car field to the green flag and it would be Horvath leading lap one before Peck, who started seventh, dove underneath several cars in one motion to grab the lead away on lap two. He brought 2011 Winston Speedway Track Champion, Chad Tomczak with him and the battle was on between the two Track Champions. Tomczak briefly took the lead on lap seven before Peck stole it back the next lap.
From there, Peck began slowly pulling away from the rest of the field while Tomczak had to try and fend off the advances of another rookie, Keith Brigance, who was running the race of his life. All the while Peck slowly inched out ahead even further and in the end, the 2011 Track Champion in his #14 Frisbee & Sons Plastering Saturn would score his fourth Feature Win of the season to officially seal the title!
Tomczak worked his way back up to second over Chuck Peterson II who finished third after starting 14th. Tom Hider finished fourth as Nick Jenema, in his stock car racing debut, completed the top five. Pavement invader, Tom Conroy was sixth while Gary Larabee, Keith Brigance, Joyce, and King finished off the top 10. Kyle Brigance officially clinched the 2011 18 and Over Rookie of the Year title while King beat out Joyce to win the 2011 17 and Under Rookie of the Year title. There were 21 teams on hand and in the Qualifier Heat Races, the winners were Kyle Brigance and Peck.
The traveling cars and stars of the Grand Rapids, Michigan based Engine Pro ASCS Sprints On Dirt Presented by ARP was pushed off next for their 25-lap Feature and after the traditional four-wide salute and wave lap, the front row of Gregg Dalman and Davey Brown led the star studded field to the green flag and it would be Dalman taking the early advantage while the rest of the field jockeyed for position behind him.
Dalman paced the field for the first 10 laps before former three-time I-96 Speedway Track Champion and former two-time Series Champion, Brett Mann, in only his second start behind the wheel of the 2011 Series Championship car #3w owned by Jim Wohlfiel, snagged the lead away from Dalman on lap 11 and he brought hometown favorite from near-by Portland, Michigan, Dustin Daggett with him and the battle was on.
Coming into the night, Daggett, another former two-time series champion and current points leader, simply needed to start the Feature and in turn had already clinched 2011 Series Championship. Daggett, who already had seven Feature Wins coming into the night was looking for win #8 and officially wrapping up his third career Championship with one race left in the season.
As the series’ second appearance of 2011 unfolded, Daggett, who won the only other Feature held at the series’ home track back on June 18th (The other two scheduled races on May 14th and August 13th were both rained out), worked his way through the field from his eighth starting spot and followed Mann by Dalman and one of the most intense battles of the season took place between Daggett and Mann, two former two-time series champions.
For the next 10 laps the lead between Mann and Daggett was exchanged 14 times with each officially taking the lead at the line on seven different occasions. The final caution flew on lap 20 and Daggett was just inches ahead of Mann at the line giving him the point on the final restart. Mann tried in vain to get back around Daggett throughout the remaining five circuits, but Daggett held tough and the driver of the #2m Miles Petroleum Group / Maxim Chassis machine would take home the popular win!
Mann settled for second with Dalman coming home in third. Dain Naida finished fourth with Jared Horstman completing the top five. Canadian invader, Dave Dykstra finished sixth while Ryan Ruhl, Aaron Shaffer, Troy Chehowski, and Keith Dempster finished off the top 10.
The Engine Pro ASCS Sprints On Dirt Presented by ARP do not Qualify and use a Passing Points System during their Qualifier Heat Races to transfer teams into the Feature. Mann, Dalman, Naida, and Jamie Collard won the Qualifier Heats while Dempster took the win in the Dash, Joe Bares scored the B Main 1 win over Trey Smith while Andy Chehowski won B Main 2 over Jay Steinbach as all four teams transferred into the A Main.
The series will wrap up their 2011 racing season and Daggett will officially be crowned the 2011 Series Champion on Friday, September 30th at Hartford Motor Speedway during the series’ 2011 Season Championships Feature in the running of the “King of Michigan” which is part of the tracks’ Dealers Choice Weekend which runs from Friday-Sunday, September 30th-October 2nd.
The last race of the night and the last race of the 2011 racing season at I-96 Speedway would be the 30-lap Season Championship Feature for the Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds. Going into the race, UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Michigan State Points Leader, Jacob Poel needed to finish 14th or better and he would clinch his first career Track Championship! Only Mark Anderson still had a mathematical shot at surpassing Poel for the title, but he was a no-show which gift-wrapped the Championship for Poel.
In addition, 16-year-old Josh Crane led 18-year-old Nick Kurtz in the chase for the 2011 Rookie of the Year title and Crane simply needed to transfer into the Feature to clinch the Freshman title. The stellar starting field took Chief Starter, Tim Beebe’s green flag led by the front row of former two-time track champion, Todd Feutz and Jared Guinn.
Feutz would grab the lead and pace the field for the first six laps before Guinn regrouped and passed the 2007 and 2008 track champion to take over the lead on lap seven. Poel, who starts eighth, slowly began working through the field as he has done all season long, by building the momentum and creating his own line around the top side of the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile high-banked dirt oval. Soon he was in second behind Guinn.
On lap 14, Poel’s momentum carried him around Guinn for the lead and from there, it was all Poel as he would survive three cautions over the last 10 laps of the race and a quick rain shower that hit the track as the white flag flew courtesy of Mother Nature, who had been a thorn in the side of I-96 Speedway all season long, so it was only appropriate that a visit was made in the last few laps of the season. Poel in his #82 Poel’s PRO-ACT Welding & Fabrication Chevrolet would take the checkered flag to cement the title.
For the Spring Lake, Michigan driver, this was his fifth feature win of the season in Lake Odessa, Michigan and his 20th overall feature triumph of the 2011 campaign! Poel will now chase after the 2011 UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Michigan State Championship as well as the Michigan Dirt Cup Modifieds Series title on Friday-Sunday, September 30th-October 2nd at Hartford Motor Speedway in Hartford, Michigan in the season finale for both points titles during the tracks’ Dealers Choice Weekend. Poel leads the UMP DIRTcar points over Anderson by a comfortable margin and is second in the MDC points to Anderson by just five markers.
2011 Cherry Raceway Track Champion, Joe Rokos finished second while former track champion, Shannon Fisk collected the final podium position of third over Feutz and Luke Olger, who were the final top five. Darrell Woodring finished sixth as Brad Wilson, Tim Dalman, Steve McClees, and Trevor Sloan finished off the top 10. There were 20Modifieds on the grounds as earlier in the evening, the Qualifier Heat Race Winners were Todd Feutz, Rich Robinson Jr., and Poel.
I-96 Speedway would like to Congratulate the 2011 Track Champions within the UMP DIRTcar Racing Series in Lake Odessa, Michigan and they are: 21 Tom Sprague Jr. – Muskegon, Michigan – Tinney Automotive UMP Late Models, 82 Jacob Poel – Spring Lake, Michigan – Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds, 65 Bill Brandt Jr. – Lake Odessa, Michigan – Renegade Racing Fuels & Lubricants UMP Street Stocks, and 14 Rick Peck – Hastings, Michigan – Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts.
In addition, I-96 Speedway would also like to congratulate the 2011 Rookies of the Year and they are: 30 Kathy Jarvis – Park City, Utah – Tinney Automotive UMP Late Models, 77 Josh Crane – Rochester Hills, Michigan – Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds, 67 Carlind Forsythe – Middleville, Michigan – Renegade Racing Fuels & Lubricants UMP Street Stocks, 15 Kyle Brigance – Delton, Michigan – Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts (18 Years Old and Over), and 74 Jordan King – Clarksville, Michigan – Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts (17 Years Old and Under).
Co-Owners / Promoters, Mike and Sarah Mouch would like to sincerely thank the entire management and staff as well as the great teams and dedicated fans of I-96 Speedway for making the 2011 racing season such a rousing success. Plans are already on-going in preparation for the 2011 Awards Banquet as well as the upcoming 2012 racing season. More Details will be Available as they are finalized.