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Daily Dirt 03/31/2023 04:25:10

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August 8
Merritt Speedway,
Lake City, MI
Sanction: Unsanctioned special events (Dan Salay Memorial Wood Tic) - $10,000
Information provided by: Track reports (last updated August 9, 11:10 am)
Stemler rules Merritt's Wood Tic, bags $10,000
Dan Salay Memorial Wood Tic
  1. Travis Stemler
  2. Jeep Van Wormer
  3. Eric Spangler
  4. Dona Marcoullier
  5. Logan Arntz
  6. David Mielke
  7. Curtis Roberts
  8. Cody Bauer
  9. Brandon Thirlby
  10. Rusty Schlenk
  11. Colin Shipley
  12. Greg Gokey
  13. Rich Bell
  14. Dave Baker
  15. Cody Rogers
  16. Mike Staszak
  17. J.C. Witherspoon
  18. Kyle Novak
  19. Steven Hilliker
  20. Andrew Terrill
  21. Craig Foster
  22. Derrick Hilliker
  23. Chad Finley
  24. Ryan Lanphierd
  25. Logan Love
presented by
Steve Datema
Travis Stemler lifts the winner's check in victory lane.
What won the race: Winning his fifth consecutive feature, Travis Stemler of Ionia, Mich., led all 75 laps from outside the front row to win Saturday's Dan Salay Memorial on the final night of Merritt Speedway's Wood Tic weekend. Stemler collected a career-high $10,000.
Key notes: Stemler survived repeated challenges from David Mielke and Rusty Schlenk during the race's early portions and later turned back Jeep Van Wormer and Eric Spangler in a furious three-car battle through traffic during the race's final laps. ... Thirteen drivers completed 75 laps in the Allstar Performance Challenge Series event. … The $65,550 Late Model purse was the biggest in the 32-year Wood Tic history. … The Salay Memorial honors the former racer, longtime Brandon Thirlby crew member and father of Thirlby’s girlfriend Leah Salay, who passed away in 2017 after a short bout with cancer.
On the move: Dona Marcoullier of Houghton Lake, Mich., started 13th and finished fourth.
Winner's sponsors: Stemler's Anklam Racing Rocket Chassis has a Pro Power Racing Engine and sponsorship from McCallister Cat Rental, Great Lakes Directional Drilling, AP Smillie Contracting, Britt Heinz Tree Services, Cusack Collisions, Heim Electric, Gary and Sharon Patrick, Positive Cleaning, The Twisted Monkey and Fisk Trucking.
Current weather: Scattered Clouds, 66°F
Car count: 34
Fast qualifier: Rusty Schlenk
Time: 14.759 seconds
Polesitter: David Mielke
Heat race winners: Brandon Thirlby, Travis Stemler, Rusty Schlenk, David Hilliker
Consolation race winners: Rich Bell
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

Travis Stemler kept his summer hot streak rolling Saturday night at Merritt Speedway by scoring his fifth straight victory.

This one was by far the biggest of the bunch.

Stemler of Ionia, Mich., led all 75 laps from the outside of the front row in Saturday's Dan Salay Memorial to earn a career-high $10,000 victory at Merritt’s Wood Tic weekend.

He crossed the finish line 0.471 seconds ahead of runner-up Jeep Van Wormer of Pinnconning, Mich., and third-place finisher Eric Spangler of Lake City, Mich. Dona Marcoullier of Houghton Lake, Mich., and Logan Arntz of Vestaburg, Mich., rounded out the top five in the Allstar Performance Challenge Series event.

The victory continued Stemler’s successful first season with Freeland, Mich.-based Anklam Racing. The team has been unbeatable no matter the track and no matter the car in recent weeks with his five wins coming at four different tracks while splitting time between two different chassis brands.

After debuting a new Longhorn Chassis the previous week, Stemler was back in the team’s XR1 Rocket at Merritt.

"This car is just amazing,” said Stemler, whose five-race win streak also includes a pair of $3,000 Allstar Performance triumphs at Merritt and Tri-City Motor Speedway in his Rocket and a pair of weekly wins at I-96 Speedway and Thunderbird Raceway in his Longhorn. “I’m having a great time. I'm having fun again and loving racing. It’s a dream come true man.”

While he led the race’s entire distance, Stemler had anything but smooth sailing during his winning run. His torrid pace during the opening laps put him in heavy traffic early in the race, allowing both David Mielke of Gladwin, Mich., and Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio, to mount early challenges.

Schlenk looked under the high-running Stemler on numerous occasions during the race’s first 25 laps, but he saw his chance to win slip away when he slid over the turn-two banking on a lap-27 restart; he recovered to finish 10th.

Assuming the second spot after Schlenk’s demise, Mielke chased Stemler through the race’s middle portions before fading to sixth in the final 10 laps.

Stemler then had to turn back two more challengers in the race’s closing laps with both Van Wormer and Spangler moving forward. The three cars battled hard through the closing laps with Spangler pulling even with Stemler for the lead on lap 70. But Spangler couldn’t complete the pass and slid back to third over the final four laps.

Van Wormer mounted his challenge next, dicing through traffic to pull within striking distance on the final lap. But Stemler held his line on the last circuit and kept just enough of a gap between himself and slower cars to avoid any trouble.

“I was starting to lose my times and I could feel it,” Stemler said of his late battle with Spangler and Van Wormer. “I started searching, and I was like ‘I just gotta man up and wheel it.’”

The race was slowed by three cautions. The first yellow waved with 27 laps completed when Greg Gokey of Buckley, Mich., slowed. Schlenk’s miscue on the ensuing restart caused the second caution, and See Hilliker of Midland, Mich., brought out the final caution on lap 46.

Preliminary action for the event was held on Friday with Schlenk collecting $550 for setting fast time during qualifying. Spangler and Chad Finley of Lansing, Mich., split preliminary feature wins.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Mielke, Stemler
Row 2: Van Wormer, Roberts
Row 3: Schlenk, Spangler
Row 4: Finley, S. Hilliker
Row 5: Arntz, Terrill
Row 6: Thirlby, D. Hilliker
Row 7: Marcoullier, Shipley
Row 8: Bauer, Love
Row 9: Foster, Baker
Row 10: Bell, Gokey
Row 11: Novak, Lanphierd
Row 12: Witherspoon, Rogers
Row 13: Staszak

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