Lake City, Michigan -- After a month vacation from nay on track racing action, the Allstar Performance Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Presented by Lane Automotive returned to Northern Michigan for the third of four appearances on the season at Merritt Speedway. The fast 1/4 (0.250) mile high-banked dirt oval located west of Houghton Lake in Lake City, Michigan hosted the UMP DIRTcar Modified cars and stars on Saturday, August 22nd as part of the Lane Automotive Open Wheel Showdown.
The third appearance at the Mike Blackmer owned facility saw the MDC Modified Tour contingent join in with the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt Presented by ARP, Michigan Traditional Sprint Series and MORA Mini Sprints for an all open wheel show in Northern Michigan. The fifth anniversary 2015 racing season has been dominated by 2013 MDC Modified Tour Champion, David Mielke and this race proved that the Gladwin, Michigan standout is a continued force in the series. It wasn't easy though for the 23-year-old who took the lead with only five laps to go to secure his latest win.
"I just can't believe this is all happening. Especially in the Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour. We've been very fortunate this year and tonight was really tough. Man what a race!" Exclaimed the driver of the #87 Krompetz Elevator / Northeastern Builders entry after climbing out of the car in celebration. "I never would've dreamed that we'd have 28 Feature Wins total this year and it's still August. Plus we're in the hunt for the UMP DIRTcar National Points Championship too. If this really is a dream, I don't want to wake up." Mielke added.
The only other driver in 2015 within Michigan Dirt Cup to win a race besides Mielke, Aaron Morey started on the pole of the 30-lap main and flanked by Dirt Late Model standout, Dona Marcoullier, the two drivers led the field to the green flag. Morey jumped out to the early lead with the rest of the field in tow. On lap seven, Marcoullier was finally able to get past Morey to take the lead for himself and he brought four-time track champion, Brent Banning with him and the battle was on for the lead as well as all the way back to the 12th position.
As Banning tried to thwart back the advances of the rest of the pack behind him through consistent three-wide traffic, David Mielke was steadily working his way up to the front utilizing the same compacted traffic. The 2013 MDC Modified Tour Champion, who started eighth, climbed his way up to second and began hounding Banning for the lead. Finally with five laps to go, Mielke was able to slip past the home track favorite and fight off a last ditch effort by Banning to cross the stripe first. For Mielke, this was his fifth straight victory, seventh overall of 2015 in the MDC Modified Tour and his all-time career leading 11th triumph overall.
Banning settled for second in his #99 Halliday Sand & Gravel ride. The West Branch, Michigan veteran, a four-time track champion at the fast 1/4 mile, led for 12 laps before the 48-year-old driver was eventually passed by Mielke. Another West Branch, Michigan driver, Brian Brindley earned the C.V. Racing Products Hard-Charger award with his 12th to third place run in his #4B M-B Trucking open-wheeled Modified. The 38-year-old driver put a stranglehold on his fifth place standing in the season long point's chase with his second top five of the year.
Defending Tour Champion, Travis Stemler continues to try and keep up with Mielke's torrid pace that's been set as Stemler's #2 Gilboe's Lock & Safe ride recorded his impressive seventh top five finish of the year with a fourth. The 24-year-old from Ionia, Michigan is solidly second in the season long points chase with two points events left. Traverse City, Michigan standout, Collin Thirlby completed the top five in his #47 Thirlby Automotive machine. The 25-year-old tied his season high finish of fifth to give him three top fives and keep him comfortably fourth in the point's standings.
Joe Rokos came away with a sixth place showing ahead of Morey who faded back to seventh. Dave Baker was eighth with Chad Bauer grabbing a ninth place over two-time MDC Modified Tour Champion, Jacob Poel who finished off the top 10. Earlier in the evening in the Howe Racing Enterprises Qualifier Heat Races, Thirlby, Mielke and Stemler took those checkered flags.
The next race on the 2015 calendar will see the MDC Modified Tour contingent head back to the wicked fast 1/2 (0.500) mile high-banked dirt oval of Hartford Speedway, located west of Kalamazoo in Hartford, Michigan on Friday, September 4th. The Labor Day Holiday Weekend kicks off with the running of the Labor Day Weekend Speed Harvest. The Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt Presented by ARP gets reacquainted with the MDC teams once again as the Winged Sprint Cars headline the show.
Just added to the 2015 schedule is a fourth and final date back at Merritt on Saturday, September 5th as part of the Performance Engineering Labor Day Weekend shootout between Hartford and Merritt. Merritt's race is a non-points race as the driver with the best combined points between the two races will get an $800 bonus for his efforts and the two-race mini-series will pay back to the top five between the two events.
After the Labor Day Weekend, the 2015 Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Champion will be crowned on Saturday, September 12th ironically in the neighboring state of Ohio at Oakshade Raceway, located west of Toledo and just south of the Michigan / Ohio state line in Wauseon, Ohio. The 2015 Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Season Championships will see the 2015 champion revealed at the conclusion of the 40-lap main.
While the points season will be over at that point, there will still be three MDC Modified Tour sanctioned events remaining on the schedule and all three shows will be held at the soon to be converted 7/16s (0.437) mile semi-banked dirt oval of Berlin Raceway. The famed fairgrounds facility, located west of Grand Rapids in Marne, Michigan will bring in the MDC cars and stars on Friday & Saturday, September 18-19th and they will join the World of Outlaws Late Model Series as part of the Down & Dirty Race Weekend. The final race of the dirt series at Berlin is on Saturday, September 26th when the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series invades.
For more information about the remainder of the fifth anniversary 2015 racing season within the Allstar Performance Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Presented by Lane Automotive, go to the Tour website at: www.michigandirtcup.com. You can also follow MDC all season long on Facebook and Twitter at: www.facebook.com/midirtcup and www.twitter.com/michigandirtcup. You can also email Michigan Dirt Cup, Director of Operations Scott Menlen at: [email protected] Finally, for more info on Hartford Motor Speedway and Merritt Speedway, the host tracks for ninth and 10th races of the fifth anniversary 2015 racing season, log on to each track website at: www.hartfordspeedway.net and at: www.merrittspeedwaymi.com.
-Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Press Release. Photo credit: Johnny B Imagery