Wauseon, OH - The 2015 Allstar Performance Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Presented by Lane Automotive Season Championships were held on Saturday, September 12th at the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked dirt oval of Oakshade Raceway. Ironically the Wauseon, Ohio speed plant, located west of Toledo and just south of the Michigan / Ohio state line in the neighboring Buckeye State would crown the 2015 Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour Champion at the conclusion of the 35-Lap Feature event.
Going into the 2015 Season Championships, Gladwin, Michigan driver, David Mielke merely needed to finish 14th or better and he would add the 2015 title to his 2013 Championship. The 23-year-old driver had been dominant all season, but on this night he had the best seat in the house to one of the most thrilling finishes in MDC's five-year history. Outgoing, Tour Champion, Travis Stemler swapped the lead with Collin Thirlby on five different occasions before taking the point for the final time as the white flag flew. Thirlby mustered up one final charge, but it would be Stemler's #2 Gilboe's Lock & Safe / Rudd's Septic Service machine who inched Thirlby at the line for his first triumph of the season.
"Wow man, what a race! That was the most fun I've ever had in a racecar. Collin made me work for it that's for sure. We've had such a good year, but man this feels good to get back into victory lane in a Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour race," Beamed the 24-year-old driver, who came into the race for the final time as the Defending Tour Champion. "We've been close all year long, but David (Mielke) has had such a strong season. We kept pace with him though and made him work every night. Congratulations to him and his team on the title. But we got the win tonight." Smiled the Ionia, Michigan standout.
As for Mielke, he finished third behind the Stemler / Thirlby battle which was more than enough to secure his second MDC title in three seasons for the Gladwin, Michigan driver. In 11 overall starts, the 23-year-old grabbed eight victories including five triumphs in a row at one point during the year. "We had such a good season, I kind of wished we would've gotten up there and had some fun with those guys. But tonight we were actually looking at the big picture and locking up this title." Offered the driver of the #87 Krompetz Elevator / Northeastern Builders open-wheeled Modified. "We've had success just about everywhere we've been to this year and now we can go have some fun at the three Berlin shows." He added.
It would be Thirlby and Mickey Carmen Jr., leading the field to Chief Starter, Marc Henry's green flag and it would be Thirlby who would dart out into the lead while the rest of the pack jockeyed for position behind him. Stemler quickly worked his way up to second from his third starting spot and drove around Thirlby to take the lead for the first time on lap three. Two laps later, Thirlby regrouped and charged back around Stemler to retake the point. Stemler would trail Thirlby for the next 25 laps before Stemler decided it was time to go with five laps to go setting up the thrilling finish.
Stemler pulled up along-side Thirlby once again with four laps to go and just edged him across the line for the lead. The two standouts remaining side by side the next lap as well mirroring each others' moves sliding through the turns. With the crowd on their feet in anticipation of a thrilling finish, Thirlby grabbed the top spot back with three to go and led by inches with two to go. Stemler though hung tough and inched back out ahead as the white flag flew. As the two drivers drag raced down the backstretch one last time. Stemler would again get the bite needed off of turn four and beat Thirlby at the line for his first MDC win of the season and third of his career.
Stemler's win secure his place as the 2015 Runner-Up with the MDC point's portion of the season complete. Thirlby settled for second in his #47 Thirlby Automotive machine for a season high finish for the 26-year-old from Traverse City, Michigan. Thirlby's fifth top five of the season to go with nine top 10 showings in 11 races netted Thirlby with a fourth in the final points standings. Mielke completed the podium finishers for his 10th top five of the season. Mielke's worst finish was a 13th place showing at Mt. Pleasant Speedway (MI) back on May 22nd when he broke a driveshaft while leading. Otherwise, Mielke scored eight wins, a second and a third in the 11 races including Championship night.
Aaron Morey was fourth in his #2K Performance Engineering ride and with his eighth top five of the season including his victory at Mt. Pleasant, the 35-year-old driver would round out the podium finishers in the final points standings with a third place. The West Olive, Michigan driver finished ahead of Fostoria, Ohio driver, Shawn Valenti, who was making his second start of the season in his #9V GH-A Recycling entry. A fifth place finished wrapped up the final top five in the race. The 30-year-olds' only other appearance came at I-96 Speedway (MI) back on May 15th where he finished 10th.
Brian Brindley was sixth in the final rundown to hang on to a fifth place in the final points. Jared Guinn was seventh at the end as Last Chance Race Winner; Dave Baker scored an eighth place at the checkered flag after starting 14th. 19-year-old Rookie Loren Short was scored in ninth as Jordan Bailey, in his first appearance of the season, came from the Last Chance Race and after starting 15th and completed the final top 10. There were 29 cars on the property as earlier in the evening in the Howe Racing Enterprises Qualifier Heat Races, Guinn, Morey and Valenti scored the victories. In the 15-Lap Last Chance Race, Baker scored the win over Bailey, Taylor Wiles, Ryan Ordway and Brad Wilson who all transferred into the show.
While the MDC points season is over, there are still three races remaining on the schedule and all three will be held at the 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.
The three-race mini-series in West Michigan for the MDC contingent, which also counts towards UMP DIRTcar Modified national points, will feature a separate points fund for the MDC competitors with the winner of the mini-series being crowned the 2015 Berlin Raceway Track Champion and Keyser Manufacturing Dirt Fall Classic Series Champion. The series champion will receive a $1,000 bonus while second through fifth in those final points will get $800, $600, $400 and $200 respectively.
For more information about the remainder of the fifth anniversary 2015 racing season for the Michigan Dirt Cup Modified Tour, go to the Tour website at: www.michigandirtcup.com. You can also follow MDC on Facebook and Twitter at: www.facebook.com/midirtcup and www.twitter.com/michigandirtcup. You can also email MDC Director of Operations Scott Menlen at: [email protected]. Finally, for more information about Berlin Raceway, the host track for the three-race Keyser Manufacturing Dirt Fall Classic Series, log on to each track website at: www.berlinraceway.com
-MPH Promotions Press Release. Photo Credit: Johnny B Imagery Photo