Curtis Roberts Scores $1,500 Payday at I-96 Speedway
Lake Odessa, Michigan (Saturday, May 7th, 2011): The second of two nights of racing at I-96 Speedway to celebrate the Mother’s Day Holiday Weekend was on Saturday, May 7th as the tracks premiere division within the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) DIRTcar series, the Tinney Automotive UMP Late Models highlighted the evening with an impressive $1,500 payday going to the winner.
The Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds, Renegade Race Fuels UMP Street Stocks, and Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts were also in action on the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile high-banked dirt oval as an excellent crowd was on hand celebrating the Mother’s Day Holiday Weekend in Lake Odessa, Michigan.
The Renegade Racing Fuels & Lubricants UMP Street Stocks rolled out first for their 20-lap Feature as defending track champion Gary Vandermark and Bill Brandt Jr., brought the field down to the green flag and it would be Vandermark leading the charge into the first corner while the rest of the field sorted themselves out behind him.
Four cautions slowed the pace down and on each “Delaware Double-File” restart; Vandermark took advantage of being by himself on the front row while the rest of the pack was double-file behind him. Vandermark, who was the feature winner the night before at Mt. Pleasant Speedway, continued to fend off the advances of Brandt Jr., who was searching for a path by the reigning champion.
When all was said and done though, Vandermark was up to the challenge and the Lowell, Michigan veteran in his P.A.T. Landscaping & Restoration Chevrolet would lead all 20 laps to score his first feature of the season at I-96, and second feature triumph of the weekend. He also took over the points lead in the process!
Brandt Jr., finished second while Cody Denny was third over 2009 track champion Aaron Wolf, and Jay Chlebek finished off the top five. New rookie points leader Keith Shumaker was sixth while Ron Wiers, Josh Frye, Hillary Smith, and a third rookie, Bruce Howe finished off the top 10. Vandermark started the night off by winning the heat race.
Up next were the Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds and starting on the front row for their 20-lap feature would be Tim Stemler and Zack Olger. But for the second week in a row, Mark Anderson, who started third, shot by the front row to take the early lead just as he done the previous week in the inaugural race for the Michigan Dirt Cup Allstar Performance Modified Tour, in which he won.
Anderson, the current points leader at I-96, would bring Jacob Poel, who started fifth and won the feature the previous evening at Winston Motor Speedway, with him and Poel would end up stealing the lead away from Anderson to lead lap one and from there the battle was on. Anderson briefly took the lead on lap four only to lose it again to Poel a lap later. Anderson swiped the lead back away from Poel on lap seven and tried to get away from him and the rest of the field, who were still battling for position.
Poel would never let Anderson stray too far out in front of him, but it was Anderson who was up to the challenge as the Lowell, Michigan veteran would keep Poel at a safe distance behind him by putting lapped cars between them, and for the second time in two starts, Anderson’s Accurate Engines Chevrolet would pull into victory lane after winning his second feature in a row and also for the second time in a row, the Lane Automotive UMP Modifieds Feature went caution free!
Poel settled for second while Travis Stemler was third over Jeff Erickson Jr., and Tim Stemler who completed the top five. Olger finished sixth while John McClure, Steven Hilliker, Ken Beutler, and Larry Vanderwoude wrapped up the top 10. Anderson and Poel were the heat race winners. Josh Crane is the rookie points leader.
The headliners for the evening were the Tinney Automotive UMP Late Models who rolled out for their Feature and it would be Tom Sprague Jr., and Ben Hidy scheduled to start on the front row. However on the wave lap, Hidy lost a left front tire and had to be towed to the pits. He returned moments later and started at the rear of the field.
So it ended up being Sprague Jr., and Rich Neiser leading the field to Chief Starter, Tim Beebe’s green flag and on lap one, Neiser, who won the feature the previous night at Winston Motor Speedway, spun coming out of turn four to bring out the caution flag. Curtis Roberts, who like Neiser, won a feature 24 hours earlier, only at Mt. Pleasant Speedway. Would take the lead while Sprague Jr., ducked in behind him.
Roberts tried to lose Sprague Jr., and the rest of the field in lapped traffic and soon Brandon Thirlby and Sammy Epling caught up to Sprague Jr., and the battle was on for second through fourth while Roberts slowly pulled away from the rest of the pack. In the end, Roberts would overcome one final restart with six laps to go and the Coleman, Michigan veteran in his Superior Metal Recycling Ford would walk away with his first I-96 feature of the season and second victory of the weekend.
New points leader, Sprague Jr., finished second with Thirlby, Epling, and two-time and defending track champion Eric Spangler, who started 17th after having to make the show through the B Main for the second week in a row, wrapped up the top five. Dan Hubbell finished sixth while Phil Ausra, Dave Hartman, Billy Bray, and Hidy finished off the top 10. Thirlby, Roberts, and Neiser scored qualifier heat race wins while Hartman took the B Main victory and transferred to the feature along-with Spangler, John Grega, David Hilliker, and new rookie points leader Kathy Jarvis.
The final 20-lap Feature of the night would be for the Jim’s Auto Body of Portland UMP Sport Compacts and the front row consisted of defending track champion Dan Reimersma and Greg Pinard and it would be Reimersma leading the field into turn one while the rest of the pack jockeyed for position.
Opening Night feature winner, Rick Peck, who started sixth, quickly worked his way up to Reimersma’s back bumper and the battle began. Peck, the 2010 18 and over rookie of the year, searched high and low desperately trying to figure out a way around the race long leader, but Reimersma was up to the task each and every time. Even a few cautions that slowed things down temporarily and allowed Peck, the current points leader, to pick and choose which lane to take once the green flag flew, but it wasn’t enough to get around the reigning track champion.
Through it all, Reimersma was quick on the draw and once the checkered flag waved, it would be Reimersma’s Sharkwater Shots Honda driving underneath the checkered first and like two drivers before him on this night, the Ada, Michigan driver would collect his second feature of the weekend as he won the previous night at Winston Motor Speedway. This was his first triumph at I-96 in 2011.
Peck finished second while Chuck Peterson II, who started 16th and finished an impressive third over Tim Horvath II and new rookie points leader Mike Vezino who completed the top five. Scott Rumsey finished sixth while 17-year-old Calvin Stemler, the 2010 17 and under rookie of the year was seventh as a trio of rookies, 15-year-old Jordan King, 14-year-old Mariah Caswell, and 9-year-old Christopher Joyce rounded out the top 10. Vezino and Pinard picked up the heat race wins.