Toledo, Ohio – Austin, TX native Brad Riethmeyer snared the lead with 15 laps to go on a restart and scored the big victory in the 27th running of the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200 presented by the Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Central Transport Saturday night at Toledo Speedway. John Lojko of Great Lakes Helicopter and the “Copter Kids” presented the trophies to Brad in the 7-Up Winner’s Circle.
The race was marred by numerous yellows and a total of 7 red flags. The marathon event took nearly 4 hours to complete. The day began with rain, which pushed back the start of practice by 2 and a half hours. Dakota Carlson topped the 32 car field and set the PASSTIME-LV Alliance fast time at 15:019 and collected the $500 bonus from Larry Varney of PASSTIME.
With the inversion at 11, the field was brought to the green flag by front row starters Dennis Strickland and Don St. Denis. St. Denis would charge into the lead on the green and the race went just 5 laps when Hunter Jack tapped the turn 3 wall when something broke on his machine. The race never got into a rhythm and it was quite evident the entire night. Jeff Ganus grabbed the lead from St. Denis on lap 31 and took off at a very quick pace. The yellow flew again on lap 40 when Brian Bergakker, subbing for Lee VanDyk, tangled with St. Denis. The race resumed and at the lap 50 mark the top 10 were Ganus, Johnny Belott, Terry Senneker Jr., JR Roahrig, Harold Fair Jr., Dakota Carlson, Tyler Roahrig, Brent Jack, Strickland and Scott Hantz.
On lap 51, Senneker called it a day as engine trouble sent him down pit road. Steve Needles, with smoke coming from his car, dropped out on lap 64. Ganus was still in control as lap 75, as Belott had narrowed the gap a bit. At lap 78, R.J. White spun in turn 2, right in front of the leaders. Ganus checked up and narrowly avoided a collision and the rest of the field also was able to slow up and continue. Ganus again took off and sailed away on the re-start. Strickland took his machine down pit road on lap 79, as attrition began to take its toll. Hantz was the next car to drop out, this at the lap 90 mark. As the field neared the lap 101 break, Ganus shot out a shower of sparks on lap 96 and tagged the turn 2 wall, heavily damaging his machine and ending his bid for a Glass City win. Belott was now the leader as he took the flag at the lap 101 break.
20 cars took the green on the second segment, and with just 4 laps in, Harold Fair Jr. and Jake Francis tangled going into turn 1 on lap 105. Francis slammed the foam blocks, Fair motored away and went to pit road, while Bob Varney, Nick Grodi and Brad Riethmeyer also were involved as the trio tried to avoid the mess. Varney was done for the night, while Grodi and Riethmeyer pitted and were able to continue. The race resumed after the cleanup, only to be stopped two more times for incidents. The lap 117 accident involved Alex Rosenberry and Fair Jr., while 5 laps later, Mike Root bounced of the front stretch wall and went into the foam blocks in turn 1. At lap 130, Bergakker was the next driver to go hard into the foam in turn 2. All drivers were ok in the incidents.
The field narrowed more as the race wore on. Tyler Roahrig, who ran in the top 5 for much of the race, retired to the infield on lap 139. Carlson began his charge to move up and challenge the flying Belott, moving into 2nd spot on lap 142. With 50 to go, Belott kept his lead as a short stretch of green flag gave Carlson the chance to close the gap. Nick Bailey spun on lap 172, bunching the field and giving Dakota a shot at the lead. On the restart, Belott bobbled and the lead duo bumped, but recovered, with Johnny holding the number 1 spot. JR Roahrig, looking to repeat his 2014 Glass City win, got into the wall on lap 182, bringing the race to a halt once again.
The restart was a repeat of the previous one, as Belott and Carlson once again traded paint, with the lead pair making contact several times going into turn 1, sending Dakota up the track, and giving Riethmeyer an opening to take over second. The final yellow came out on lap 185, setting up the fight for the win.
Riethmeyer, who pitted pretty much every time the yellow or red appeared, was now staged in second spot on the high side. Brad zipped by and into the lead when the green flew, while Carlson took second from Belott on lap 191. Riethmeyer held on as Dakota tried to reel in the leader in the closing stages, as Brad scored the big win. Carlson, Belott, Bailey and Billy Roberts were the top 5, with the top 4 on the lead lap. Chris Benson, JR Roahrig, Jimmy Ward Jr., Tommy O’Leary IV and Brent Jack completed the top ten. Jack ran in the top 5 in the second half of the race until he dropped out in the late stages of the race. Only 7 cars took the checkered flag from the 31 car starting field in the accident-marred race.
Kevin Butzin, Grodi, Tyler Roahrig, Bergakker, Root, Rosenberry, Fair Jr., White, Francis, Varney, Ganus, Hantz, Strickland, Needles, St. Denis, Senneker, Todd Currier, Emerson Huffman, Hunter Jack, Jack Landis and Trevor Berry completed the finishing order. Josh Way encountered engine trouble and did not start.
Riethmeyer took home $6,750 for his win. Brad also collects the $250 Penske Shocks certificate for his efforts.
O’Leary IV picked up the $250 Chuck Burge Most Improved bonus, while Jack, Root and Varney took home $100 bonuses from DTS Drive Train Specialists for finishing 10th, 15th and 20th respectively. Belott was the winner of a $100 bonus from Auto City Speedway for leading lap 100. Lap money at $10 per lap was also distributed to St. Denis, Ganus, Belott and Riethmeyer.
In pre-race ceremonies, 1976 Glass City 200 winner Ed Cooper was introduced to the crowd as the Grand Marshal of the race. Ed received an ARCA Gold Lifetime Membership Card in honor of his 200 victory 39 years ago. Cooper and 3-time Glass City 200 winner Steve Sauve greeted the starting field during driver introductions.
Associate sponsors and special award sponsors for the 200 include Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, DTS Drive Train Specialists, PASSTIME, R & M Recycling, Penske Shocks, First Care Ambulance, Cassens Transport and Chuck Burge.
The 2015 season at Toledo Speedway is now in the record books. The 2016 schedule is expected to be released during the holiday season.
-Toledo Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Toledo Speedway