Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway - Tri-City Motor Speedway - Auburn, MI | Friday Night Dirt Track Racing
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Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway

Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Bennett Bags Emotional Win at Tri-City Motor Speedway

07/30/2021 (Auburn MI) It was another picture perfect night for racing at Tri-City Motor Speedway this past Friday evening. Once again, the pits was packed full of 139 cars and drivers while the spectators poured in from all over Michigan to watch some of the best in the state battle it out on the clay bullring. Allstar Performance Challenge Series features for the Auto Value Pro Stocks and the Troll Smokehouse IMCA Modifieds were the top billing with increased purses for their feature events.

This past week has been a tough one for Troll Smokehouse IMCA driver Chad Bennett. Earlier in the week, his son Austin suffered injuries as a result of an unfortunate accident with their Side-By-Side vehicle. He has been in the hospital with a broken back and paralyzed from the waist down, Bennett was prepared to end his race season to be there helping his son through the long road to recovery. However, his son encouraged him to run on Friday night just as he normally would. At the track, Bennett, along with Austin Harnick and Brenten DeYoung, won heat races that set the lineup for the $1500 to win Allstar Challenge Series 25-lap main event. Bennett, through the luck of the draw, pulled the #1 chip which placed him on the pole for the feature. Starting alongside multi-time track champion AJ Ward, Bennett immediately grabbed the lead at the start of the race. It was a lead that he would never relinquish as he masterfully worked the lowest groove around the speedway for the entire 25 laps to capture the emotional victory. Ward was able to hold on to second ahead of DeYoung, Collin Thirlby, and Kody Johnson.
The evening’s other Allstar Performance Challenge Series race was in the Auto Value Pro Stock class. An additional $500 from RW Transmission was added to the advertised $1000 top prize to make the total for the feature win $1500. So far in 2021, the victories in the Pro Stocks have been settled amongst Andrew Steele, Nate Murphy (whose wife had their second child earlier in the day), and the previous Challenge Series winner Timmy Near. The feature line-up had both Steele and Near starting on the front row with Murphy on the outside of row two. Over the course of 25-laps, all three were the only lap leaders. The first half of the race contained some tight racing a numerous lead changes between Steel and Near. However, Murphy was able to take advantage of a rare bobble by Steele to capture the lead on lap thirteen. He, too, was able to keep his car in the bottom groove and hold off the field for the remaining twelve laps to win his second feature of 2021. Jack Emmons, who had started 15th, was able to nip Steele and that line for second place. Kyle Hunt and Chris Malek rounded out the top five finishers. Steele and Josh Loomis were heat race winners earlier in the evening.

After the previous week’s competitive Auto House Factory Stock feature, expectations were high that there would be a repeat performance of the three and four wide racing. The top four in the season long track championship point race, Eric Lake, Ryan Nethers, Jim Miller Jr., and Nick Putman, were all part of the excitement during the caution filled time shortened 15-lap feature. Lake took the early lead away from pole-sitter Mike Vandecar until Nethers wrestled it away on lap eight. Cautions created numerous restarts which gave the field a chance to improve their track position and put up a challenge for the lead and eventual win. Miller Jr. was able to make the final pass on Nethers for the lead on lap twelve and was the leader when the final caution and checkered flag waved on lap fifteen. Nethers, Lake and Putnam finished second through fourth while Vandecar held on for fifth. Putman, Nethers and Vandecar were also heat race winners.

Thirty-seven XLT Engineering 4-6 Cylinder drivers all had hopes of taking home the top prize money on Friday night. Four Qualifier heat races, won by Ethan Robarts, Chad Freeman, Nick Bullock and Herb Freeman, narrowed down the twenty drivers that ran the main event. Chad Freeman, the TCMS point leader so far for 2021 drew the pole position alongside Briana Vennix for the 15-lap money race. The rest of the field had no chance to catch Freeman as he took off from the start and was never challenged for the lead over the course of the race and cruised to victory. Last week’s winner and Chad’s uncle, Herb Freeman, finished in the runner-up position. Chris Wassman, Bullock and Robarts wrapped up tom five finishes. The B-main for the 17 drivers that did not transfer to the main event was an exciting event for the fans as the majority of drivers had not won a feature of any kind at TCMS. Rookie Jay Bradsher was able to hold off intense challenges by top five finishers Chase Shank, Brandon Daniels, Jakub Burr and Scott Popielarz capture the first win of his career.

The Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort Late Models featured Derrick Hilliker, Cody Bauer, and last week’s winner Eric Spangler all taking heat race wins. Alex Hupert and Logan Nickerson brought the field of 22 to the initial green flag of the 30-lap feature. Second row starter, Spangler, made a bold move between Hupert and Nickerson in turn one that netted him the lead with a half lap of the start. He dominated the first 27 laps which went caution free. The final restart didn’t make any difference for Spangler as he was untouched and take his second victory in a row at TCMS and third overall. Nickerson kept second place ahead of David Hilliker, a hard charging Ryan Lanphierd (Started 17th), and Derrick Hilliker.

The Allstar Performance Mini Wedge youngsters battled on the mini-oval in both the restricted motor and unrestricted motor classes. Cason Murphy took home the trophy winning in the restricted class while Chase Urmanic took home his first TCMS win in the unrestricted

Next week is Sprint Car Night at TCMS. All three sprint car divisions under the Great Lakes Sprints banner will be in action for a super night of open-wheel action. The Super Sprints, Traditional Sprints, and Lightning Sprints will take to the speedway starting at 7:00. Be sure to come early to claim your seat for another exciting show you won’t want to miss! Mark August 20th on your calendars as the UMP Dirtcar Hell Tour will invade TCMS with Late Models and UMP Modifieds! For updated and instant results, season and Challenge Series point standings and the 2021 race schedule, visit the TCMS website at or download the MyRacePass app.

Photo Credit: Randy Ellen

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