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Daily Dirt 03/03/2024 03:01:37

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August 21
Merritt Speedway,
Lake City, MI
Sanction: DIRTcar Summer Nationals - $10,000
Information provided by: Joshua Joiner (last updated August 23, 2:49 pm)
Winger dominates tour’s finale at Merritt
  1. Ashton Winger
  2. Devin Moran
  3. Travis Stemler
  4. Chad Finley
  5. Tanner English
  6. Scott James
  7. Eric Spangler
  8. Joe Godsey
  9. Cody Bauer
  10. Mitch McGrath
  11. Dona Marcoullier
  12. Bobby Pierce
  13. Joey Burch
  14. Andrew Terrill
  15. Brandon Thirlby
  16. Ryan Lanphierd
  17. Mike Staszak
  18. J.C. Witherspoon
  19. Thomas Hunziker
  20. Jamie Grochowski
  21. Jeff Roth
  22. Logan Nickerson
presented by
Terry Page
Ashton Winger heads for victory in the Summer Nationals finale.
What won the race: Closing out his first full-time run on the grueling summer series in impressive fashion, Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., earned a $10,000 victory in Saturday’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals finale at Merritt Speedway to complete a sweep of the tour’s final weekend. Winger, who also earned a $10,000 victory in the tour’s penultimate event at nearby Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich., on Friday, overtook race-long leader Travis Stemler on lap 17 of Saturday’s feature and cruised the remaining distance in topping third-starting Devin Moran of by 1.306 seconds at the finish.
Key notes: The victory is the sixth of Winger's career on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour. ... Once over three seconds back, Moran of Dresden, Ohio, cut over half of Winger's lead in the final 10 laps, but settled for the runner-up spot. ... Second-starting Travis Stemler of Ionia, Mich., led the first 16 laps before fading to finish third. ... Newly crowned four-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champion, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., finshed 12th. ... Saturday's feature, the series finale, was slowed by only one incident and lasted 14 minutes, with 12 competitors completing all 40 laps.
On the move: Weekly Late Model points leader at Merritt, Eric Spangler, started ninth and finished seventh at his home track.
Winner's sponsors: Winger’s Rocket Chassis is powered by a Pro Power Racing Engine and sponsored by E-Z-Go, Keyser Mfg., Integra Shocks, Johnny Doan Plumbing, Boyd-Bilt Fabrication, Spring-Pro, Collins Signs, Turkey Creek Snacks, The Realty Queen Team and Advanced Technology Motorsports.
Points chase: Final: 1. Bobby Pierce (1,953); 2. Ashton Winger (1,775); 3. Tanner English (1,755); 4. Joe Godsey (1,331); 5. Mitch McGrath (1,329); 6. Jeff Roth (990); 7. Jason Feger (972); 8. Tim Lance (945); 9. Brian Shirley (878); 10. Brandon Lance (860).
Current weather: Broken Clouds, 73°F
Car count: 31
Fast qualifier: Devin Moran
Time: 13.350 seconds
Polesitter: Ashton Winger
Heat race winners: Devin Moran, Travis Stemler, Ashton Winger
Consolation race winners: Andrew Terrill
Provisional starters: Jeff Roth, Jamie Grochowski, J.C. Witherspoon, Thomas Hunziker
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer

LAKE CITY, Mich. (Aug. 21) — While most of the series regulars breathed a sigh of relief when the longest schedule in DIRTcar Summer Nationals history reached its conclusion Saturday night, Ashton Winger was wishing the tour could be even longer.

Closing out his first full-time run on the grueling summer series in impressive fashion, Winger of Hampton, Ga., completed a sweep of the tour’s final weekend with a dominating performance in Saturday’s series finale at Merritt Speedway to earn $10,000 for his sixth series victory.

Winger, who also earned a $10,000 payday in the tour’s penultimate event at nearby Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich., on Friday, started from the pole and overtook second-starting Travis Stemler on lap 17 of Saturday’s 40-lap feature and cruised the remaining distance in topping third-starting Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, by 1.306 seconds at the finish. The victory propelled Winger ahead of fellow series regular Tanner English for second in the tour’s final points standings as Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., wrapped up his fourth series title with a 12th-place finish.

“The way we’re running right now, I almost wish this deal was just getting started,” the 21-year-old Winger said not long after celebrating in victory lane with his usual overzealous roof slaps and rooftop steering wheel drop that series followers have grown accustomed to after watching him wrack up wins during the second half of the two-month tour. “The good thing about winning this one is we can celebrate it a while. When you run every day like we do on this deal, people forget about who wins pretty quick. Finishing it up the way we did, winning both of these last two races, it’s going to be something cool to look back on.”

Starting from the pole position, Winger settled into second on the race’s initial start after Stemler of Ionia, Mich., used a high-side charge through the first corner to take the lead. After following Stemler around the track’s low groove for the race’s first 10 laps, Winger moved up a lane and quickly began eying a pass for the lead.

Pulling alongside Stemler on lap 16, Winger used the track’s middle lane to pull even with Stemler exiting turn two on the next lap and completed the winning pass exiting turn four. With the race running green until the end, Winger ran unchallenged, opening a lead of more than three seconds before Moran cut the advantage to a more modest gap as Winger ran through traffic in the closing laps.

“I really had to work for that one,” Winger said of his performance. “When Travis got me on the start there I was beating myself up pretty bad just for not getting a better launch. Then Devin showed me the top (on the race’s only restart with three laps compete). … I didn’t really realize the top would be as good as it was. Hat’s off to the track crew. They made this thing racy.”

Moran settled for second behind Winger for the second straight night, although Saturday’s result was much less dramatic than Friday’s last-lap theatrics at Tri-City that saw Moran attempt a final-corner pass of Winger that came up just short. Behind Moran, Stemler slid back to third at the finish with with Chad Finley of St. Johns, Mich., and English of Benton, Ky., rounding out the top five.

As he closed in on Winger late in Saturday’s feature, Moran was hoping another late caution would give him a chance to make up for his near-miss at Tri-City the night before.

“We had a good car again and I think we would’ve been able to pull it off if we had another one of them last-lap deals again,” said Moran, who joined the tour for its season-ending four-race Michigan swing and picked up a victory, two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish. “I was trying to roll the top and then (Winger) moved up right when I got there. But that’s just the way it rolls. We needed to be a little better.”

Notes: The race, which took 14 minutes to complete, was slowed by one caution that appeared when Mike Staszak of Kawkawlin, Mich., slipped over the turn-two banking on lap three. … Twelve of 22 starters completed all 40 laps. … Along with the $10,000 payday for winning the race, Winger earned $11,600 for finishing second in the series standings — that’s $3,480 more than the $8,120 English earned for ending up third. Wigner also claimed the $2,000 weekly points title. … Before the start of Saturday's program, Pierce accepted a championship check worth $29,000.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Ashton Winger, Travis Stemler
Row 2: Devin Moran, Chad Finley
Row 3: Tanner English, Scott James
Row 4: Cody Bauer, Joe Godsey
Row 5: Eric Spangler, Mitch McGrath
Row 6: Dona Marcoullier, Bobby Pierce
Row 7: Brandon Thirlby, Joey Burch
Row 8: Logan Nickerson, Andrew Terrill
Row 9: Ryan Lanphierd, Mike Staszak
Row 10: Jeff Roth, Jamie Grochowski
Row 11: J.C. Witherspoon, Thomas Hunziker

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

Finish: Andrew Terrill, Ryan Lanphierd, Mike Staszak, Thomas Hunziker, J.C. Witherspoon, Jeff Geis, Jacob VanDeVoorde, Rod Laney, David Bowen, Dan Hersey, Jerry Kent, Jim Billett, Robert Lewis, Chad Foster Sr., Jamie Grochowski, Jeff Roth.

Heat race results

(10 laps; top five transfer)

First heat: Devin Moran, Chad Finley, Cody Bauer, Mitch McGrath, Brandon Thirlby, Andrew Terrill, Mike Staszak, Rod Laney, Chad Foster Sr., David Bowen, Robert Lewis.

Second heat: Travis Stemler, Tanner English, Joe Godsey, Dona Marcoullier, Joey Burch, Ryan Lanphierd, Thomas Hunziker, J.C. Witherspoon, Jamie Grochowski, Dan Hersey.

Third heat: Ashton Winger, Scott James, Eric Spangler, Bobby Pierce, Logan Nickerson, Jeff Roth, Jeff Geis, Jacob VanDeVoorde, Jerry Kent, Jim Billett.

Qualifying

Driver (car no.), hometown, time 

  1. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 13.350
  2. Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 13.426
  3. Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 13.547
  4. Chad Finley (42), East Lansing, Mich., 13.554
  5. Travis Stemler (4), Ionia, Mich., 13.575
  6. Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 13.609
  7. Cody Bauer (19X), Farwell, Mich., 13.682
  8. Joe Godsey (14G), Edinburgh, Ind., 13.689
  9. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 13.691
  10. Mitch McGrath (74), Waukesha, Wis., 13.761
  11. Dona Marcoullier (3M), Houghton Lake, Mich., 13.764
  12. Logan Nickerson (21N), Vestaburg, Mich., 13.783
  13. Andrew Terrill (4T), Sanford, Mich., 13.904
  14. Thomas Hunziker (38), Bend, Ore., 13.962
  15. Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 13.999
  16. Brandon Thirlby (M14), Buckley, Mich., 14.010
  17. Ryan Lanphierd (11X), Midland, Mich., 14.062
  18. Eric Spangler (27), Lake City, Mich., 14.077
  19. Mike Staszak (16), Kawkawlin, Mich., 14.151
  20. Joey Burch (16B), Rosebush, Mich., 14.269
  21. Jacob VanDeVoorde (9LT), Stryker, Ohio, 14.280
  22. Chad Foster Sr. (24), Mcbain, Mich., 14.396
  23. Jamie Grochowski (15G), Toledo, Ohio, 14.487
  24. Jeff Geis (T18), Wauseon, Ohio, 14.571
  25. Rod Laney (75), Kawkawlin, Mich., 14.588
  26. J.C. Witherspoon (03), Kinde, Mich., 14.640
  27. Jim Billett (25JB), Mcbain, Mich., 14.770
  28. Dan Hersey (29), Traverse City, Mich., 14.900
  29. Jerry Kent (29K), Central Lake, Mich., 14.917
  30. Robert Lewis (00), Interlochen, Mich., 15.121
  31. David Bowen (33), Sterling, Mich., 17.972 

Saturday’s schedule

5:30 p.m. - Drivers' meeting

6:00 p.m. - On-track activity
- Late Model hot laps
- Modified hot laps/time trials (3 laps)
- Late Model time trials (2 laps)
Opening ceremonies

- Factory stock heat races (8 laps)
- Modified heat races (8 laps)
- Late Model heat races (10 laps)
- Four-cylinder heat races (8 laps)
- Pro stock heat races (10 laps)
- Modified consolation (10 laps; if necessary)
- Late Model consolation (10 laps; if necessary)
Intermission/track prep
- Factory stock feature (20 laps)
- Pro stock feature (25 laps)
- Modified feature (25 laps)
- Late Model feature (40 laps)

- Four-cylinder feature (15 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Winger, Stemler
Row 2: Moran, Finley
Row 3: English, James
Row 4: Bauer, Godsey
Row 5: Spangler, McGrath
Row 6: Marcoullier, Pierce
Row 7: Thirlby, Burch
Row 8: Nickerson, Terrill
Row 9: Lanphierd, Staszak
Row 10: Roth, Grochowski
Row 11: Witherspoon, Hunziker

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