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Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS

Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS
Last Lap Pass Nets Marcoullier Another Big Pay Day at TCMS

07/2/2021 (Auburn MI) The Independence Day weekend marks that unofficial midway point of the 2021 racing season at Tri-City Motor Speedway. With the first half over, many teams have begun to step up their racing programs in hopes of stringing together multiple feature wins. With a majority of the high-dollar shows upcoming in the mid to late summer, now is the time to make up for losses incurred earlier in the year. The kick off of the holiday weekend was at TCMS last Friday night. The first $10k to win Allstar Performance Challenge Series for the Soaring Late Models was paired with another $1000 to win Troll Smokehouse IMCA Modified feature and an $800 to win main event for the Auto House Factory Stocks.

The near capacity crowd was in high anticipation of the 50-lap main race for the Soaring Eagle Casino Late Models. The $10k to win race was also co-sanctioned with the Midwest’s American Late Model Series presented by Sunoco. This brought 31 of the best late model drivers to compete on the 3/8th mile red clay oval. Challenge Series 2020 Champion Travis Stemler (Ionia), Logan Nickerson (Vestaburg), David Hilliker (Midland), and multi-time ALMS Champion Brandon Thirlby locked into the main event early by capturing qualifying race victories. Pinconning’s Jeep VanWormer had to win the Last Chance Qualifier in order to ascertain his spot in the feature and a chance at the top prize. Hilliker and Nickerson were the two drivers that led the field of 24 to the green flag and the start of the 50-lap feature. Nickerson took charge immediately by clearing Hilliker and pacing the first two laps. By lap three, Thirlby passed Nickerson on the high side. Nickerson never lost touch with Thirlby and the two spent many laps side-by-side trying in a fight for the outright lead. By lap 12, Thirlby started to fall off the pace and Nickerson took the top spot back. It was short-lived as 5-time ALMS Champion Rusty Schlenk (McClure OH) snatched the lead on lap 18. Schlenk tried to pull away from the pack and had up to a second and a half lead on the field. With the lack of caution flags to slow the action down, the front of the field had to deal with heavy lapped traffic for the majority of the second half of the feature. For the most part, Schlenk was patient dealing with the slower traffic that was using the same line around the track as he was. With about 10 laps remaining, 2020 track Champion Dona Marcoullier (Houghton Lake) worked to the runner-up position from his ninth place starting position. With five laps remaining Marcoullier started turning on the heat to Schlenk. Schlenk crossed the stripe as the leader on the white flag lap with Marcoullier in tow. Schlenk, who admitted post-race, took the back stretch a bit too wide which allowed Marcoullier to have the inside line entering turn three. By the time they exited turn four, Marcoullier was ahead of Schlenk and beat him back the checkered flag to collect the $10,000 top prize. Schlenk came across second in the caution-free race and was followed by Stemler, Greg Gokey (Buckley), and Nickerson. The remainder of the top ten included Chad Finley (St John’s), VanWormer, Thirlby, Mike Vandermark Jr. (Cedar Springs), and Hilliker. Schlenk was disqualified after an incident in the pits following the races.

The Troll Smokehouse IMCA Modified division has been exciting all season. One of the feel-good stories of 2021 has been the rookie effort by former track Champion Kendall Morrison (Bay City). He has managed to make a successful transition from the Pro-stocks to the open wheel Modifieds and has been competitive every night. Morrison got to start the 30-lap final race on the pole position alongside Austin Harnick (Clare). Hungry for that first IMCA feature win, Morrison made quick work of Harnick to take the lead immediately at the drop of the green flag. Morrison kept the strong pace while staying as low as he could around the race surface. Behind him, IMCA regional Rookie of the Year, Chad Bennett (Caro) was quietly making his way from 15th place using the same line Morrison was using to lead. Bennett caught the back bumper of Morrison within the final laps and was able to take advantage of Morrison not being to hold the bottom line as he had earlier in the race. With two laps remaining, Bennett made the winning pass to take the checkered flag and collect $1000 for the win. Morrison had to settle for the runner-up finish. Myron DeYoung (Crystal), Collin Thirlby (Traverse City), and Chad Spencer (Kingston) completed the top five finishers. Chaz Pray (Clio) won the Last Chance Qualifier. Heat race gold was won by Matt Szecsodi (Clio), Jaycob Truemner (Imlay City), and Thirlby.

The Auto House Factory Stocks brought over 30-drivers to Auburn for a chance to win the $800 top prize for winning the 25-lap feature event. Ryan Nethers (Mount Pleasant), who sits in the runner-up position in points heading into Friday night, had to win a last Chance Qualifier to make the feature event. Matt Duggan (Grand Blanc), Jake Thompson (Birch Run), and Champion Eric Lake (Montrose) locked into the big race earlier in the night by winning the qualifying races. Scott Smith (West Branch) took the lead from pole-sitter Ethan Champagne (Bad Axe) at the start of the big money race. Smith, too, was using the low line to pace the field. This strategy worked until lap fourteen when Nick Putnam (Kawkawlin) used the high side to pass Smith. A few late race cautions would bring the field up to the back bumper of Putnam. However, Putnam, who had never won a Factory Stock feature, wasn’t rattled by the drivers behind him and was able finally take his first checkered flag. 18th place started Jim Miller Jr (Clio) finished one spot short in second with Loren Short (Clio), Kyle Andrzejewski (Bay City), and Jim Miller Sr. (Lake City) close behind in the top five.

The Auto Value Pro Stocks had seventeen drivers take the green flag for their night ending race. Pole sitter and two-time feature winner in 2021, Andrew Steele (Twining) jumped out to the early advantage at the start of the 20-lap feature. That lead would only last four laps as two-time Champion Nate Murphy (Coleman) took over the race for good on lap five. Murphy, who had also won his heat race, was never truly challenged after taking the lead and finally collected his first TCMS feature of 2021. Timmy Near (Midland), who had also won his heat race, drove his Jeff Haley owned car to a second place finish. Steele ended up third ahead of Kyle Hunt (Bannister) and Rob Westergard (Bay City).

Paul Streeter Jr. has a lot of laps around TCMS in the XLT Engineering 4-6 Cylinder division. Those laps finally paid off for the Sanford native as he overtook early leaders Don Frohm (Lakeport) and Chris Wassman (Whittamore) to take his first win in the division. He edged out point leader Nick Bullock (Bay City), John Miller (National City), William Withrow (West Branch), and Frohm at the finish. Multi-Time Champion Johnny Staszak won the Last Chance Qualifier. Wassman, Bullock, and Troy Miller (Standish) were heat race victors.

The Walker’s Ideal Trophies Mini Wedge classes kicked off the evening with their pre-race events. Defending Restricted Mini Wedge Champion, Jett Gohr (Bay City) won his heat but had issues in the feature where he finished fifth behind winner Colton Bowen (Sterling). This was Bowen’s first win of the 2021 season. In the Unrestricted Mini Wedge class Brennan DeShano (Kawkawlin) won the heat but had to settle for second place behind Addy Wade (Lake City) in the main event. This was Addy’s first feature win of the season.

Next week, all the house divisions including the Walker’s Ideal Trophies Mini-Wedges, Auto House Factory Stocks, Auto Value Pro Stocks, Soaring Eagle Late models and the XLT Engineering 4-6cyls are all a part of the race card. It will be the XLT Engineering 4-6cyl division competing for a $1000 top prize for winning the feature!! The first green flag waves at 7:30. Be sure to come early to claim your seat for another exciting show you won’t want to miss! For updated and instant results, season and Challenge Series point standings and the 2021 race schedule, visit the TCMS website at tricityracetrack.com or download the MyRacePass app.

Photo Credit: Randy Ellen

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