Lake Odessa, Michigan (Saturday, February 4th, 2012): The 2011 I-96 Speedway Awards Banquet was held at the Steele Street Hall in downtown Ionia, Michigan on Saturday, February 4th as the four track champions within the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) DIRTcar Racing Series were honored for their accomplishments from the 2011 racing season.
The highest honor of the night would be the inaugural I-96 Speedway Driver of the Year Award and the first ever recipient would be the 2011 Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds Track Champion, Jacob Poel for his accomplishments not only at I-96, but for his entire 2011 racing season as his stats were impressive to say the least.
In addition to his first career track title, he also collected the 2011 UMP DIRTcar Michigan State Point Championship, the inaugural 2011 Michigan Dirt Cup Modifieds Tour Championship, 21 Feature Wins at Six (6) different facilities, including Five (5) of those in Lake Odessa, Michigan. He also finished the season in fourth in the UMP DIRTcar National Points Standings.
Other special awards including the honoring of the late Jim Thompson, the long time Water Truck Driver at the speedway who suffered from heat stroke during the season and later passed away recently due to complications and other health issues. The I-96 Speedway Sportsman of the Year Award Winners will from this point forward receive the Jim Thompson Memorial Sportsman of the Year Awards. The inaugural winners in each division were: Brandon Thirlby-UMP Late Models; Ken Beutler-UMP Modifieds; Jay Chelbek-UMP Street Stocks; and Greg Pinard-UMP Sport Compacts.
Master of Ceremonies for the evening and the Voice of I-96 Speedway, Matt Prieur was honored as well with a very special Appreciation Award from track Co-Owners / Promoters, Mike & Sarah Mouch. Later, Prieur introduced the new co-announcer at the track, 19-year-old Dale Spencer who’ll be at Prieur’s side for the majority of the 2012 racing season and will be filling in on the nights that Prieur will not be at the track due to his commitments as the new Midwest Editor for Speed51.com
As for the final rundown of the season, the Tinney Automotive UMP Late Models would see Tom Sprague Jr., win his first I-96 Track Championship to go with 2007 UMP Late Models Track Title at near-by Winston Speedway. The Muskegon, Michigan driver in his beautiful black and white #21 Sprague’s Auto Parts / Rocket Chassis machine scored a single Feature Win, but it was the biggest one of all as he won the 2011 Season Championships main to clinch the title after going into Championship night third in the points standings.
Brandon Thirlby (1 Feature Win), the 2011 Jim Thompson Memorial Sportsman of the Year finished in the runner-up spot while Zach Olger (2 Feature Wins), Kris Patterson Jr., and 2011 Rookie of the Year Kathy Jarvis finished off the top five. Rookie Runner-Up Jason Wiley finished sixth overall while former two-time track champion Eric Spangler, Curtis Roberts, Dan Hubbell, and Dona Marcoullier wrapped up the top 10.
Honorable mentions outside the top 10 includes; Ben Hidy, Scott Baker, Sammy Epling, Phil Ausra, Luke Tominski, Dave Hartman, Chris Nash, 19-year-old Luke Hubbell, Rich Neiser, Rusty Schlenk (1 Feature Win), Dale Sheehy, and Shannon Babb (1 Feature Win).
In the Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds, Jacob Poel capped off a career season by winning his first career Track Championship. Later in the evening, he would receive the inaugural I-96 Speedway Driver of the Year Award. Poel’s popular black #82 Poel’s PRO-ACT Welding & Fabrication / Keyser’s Port City Racing machine scored a season high Five Feature Wins including the Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modifieds Summer Nationals Race as well as the 4th annual Dirt Gold Cup Championship Extravaganza / Season Championships.
The 2011 Runner-up was Mark Anderson (2 Feature Wins) while former two-time track champion Todd Feutz (2 Feature Wins), Travis Stemler and his Father Tim Stemler completed the top five. 2011 Jim Thompson Memorial Sportsman of the Year Ken Beutler finished sixth while former track champion Shannon Fisk was seventh. Luke Olger, Trevor Sloan, and Jared Guinn wrapped up the final top 10.
Honorable Mentions who finished just outside of the top 10 were; Johnny DeYoung, John McClure, Andy Sprague (1 Feature Win), Kyle Roberts, 2011 Rookie of the Year, 17-year-old Josh Crane, former track champion Rich Robinson Jr., Tim Dalman., James Kimmel, 18-year-old Derek Passenier, Zach Olger, 19-year-old David Mielke, and Joe Rokos.
For the Renegade Racing Fuels & Lubricants UMP Street Stocks, Lake Odessa’s own, Bill Brandt Jr., put together a career year to capture his first career Track Championship. The hometown favorite in his familiar white #65 Zylstra Construction Chevrolet scored Three Feature Wins on his way to his first career Track Championship in a very competitive division on the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile high-banked dirt oval.
Hillary Smith also had a career season in finishing as the former UMP Sport Compacts Track Champion finishes the year as the 2011 Runner-up. 2010 Rookie of the Year Ron Harper also finished on the podium in third while former track champion Gary Vandermark and Josh Frye (1 Feature Win) finished up the top five. Former track champion Aaron Wolf finished sixth while 2011 Jim Thompson Memorial Sportsman of the Year Jay Chlebek was seventh ahead of Rich Sweet (1 Feature Win), 2011 Rookie of the Year, 16-year-old Carlind Forsythe, and Cody Denny were the final top 10.
Those outside of the final top 10 who were deemed honorable mentions were; Bruce Howe, Dan Dykman, Duane Nelson, 19-year-old Trei Cotter, Nathan Eli, David Grega, Derek Poland (1 Feature Win), Landon Hidy, Keith Shumaker, Ron Wiers, Ryan Alexander, and Tom Curley.
Finally in the Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts, Hastings, Michigan driver, Rick Peck, the 2010 18 & Over Rookie of the Year showed no signs of a sophomore slump in any way as the driver of the red and black #14 Bob’s Repair Saturn showed the way in the tracks beginners division with an impressive four Feature Wins en route to his first career Track Championship in only his second year of racing.
Tim Horvath II finished the year as the 2011 Runner-up over 2011 18 & Over Rookie of the Year Kyle Brigance who also finished on the podium in third overall. Former track champion Dan Reimersma (2 Feature Wins) was fourth while 2011 17 & Under Rookie of the Year, 16-year-old Jordan King completed the top five. 2011 Jim Thompson Memorial Sportsman of the Year Greg Pinard (1 Feature Win) was sixth while 10-year-old Rookie Christopher Joyce, 13-year-old Harper Hotchkiss, and two more rookies, Mike Vezino and Kyle Brigance were the final top 10.
Honorable Mentions who finished just outside of the top 10 were; Scott Rumsey, Colee Ruesink, 19-year-old Caleb Schuiling, Chad Tomczak (1 Feature Win), J.T. Leach, Chuck Peterson II, Rich Lieb (1 Feature Win), 17-year-old Calvin Stemler, 17-year-old Joe Pironello, 15-year-old Mariah Caswell, Paul Namey, and 16-year-old Kenny Playter.
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. The 2012 racing season begins with two Pre-Season Test & Tunes scheduled for Saturday, April 14th and Saturday, April 21st as both Test & Tunes will see the Pit Gates open at 12:00p.m., and Practice will go from 1:00-6:00p.m. each day.
The 2012 Racing Season will begin on Saturday, April 28th with the 7th annual Ice Breaker / Opening Night 2012 featuring a full four in one show highlighted by the high-powered UMP Super Late Models who’ll be joined by the UMP Modifieds, UMP Street Stocks, and UMP Sport Compacts.
Note: Some new starting times to be implemented for the 2012 racing season; Pit Gates will Open at 3:00p.m., just like in previous seasons, however Practice will start earlier than in the past as the cars hit the track on race day starting at 5:30p.m. and will take turns on the track on a rotating basis until 6:30pm. After Pre-Race Ceremonies / Invocation / National Anthem(s), which are slated for 6:45p.m., Racing will begin at 7:00p.m.
For more information about the fast approaching 2012 racing season, please call: 1 (616) 642-0555 or visit the website at: www.i96speedway.com You can also follow all of the off-season happenings in Lake Odessa, Michigan by becoming a fan on the tracks Facebook Fan Page. Just go to: www.facebook.com and search “I-96 Speedway” and click on “Like” button today. You can even follow us on Twitter as well, just go to: www.twitter.com and search “I-96 Speedway”