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Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway

Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway
Marcoullier and Thirlby Outrace the Field at Tri-City Motor Speedway

09/3/2021 (Auburn MI) The 2021 Tri-City Motor Speedway season point battles all got a little bit tighter last Friday night in most all of the racing divisions. The Labor Day weekend kick off was the last night to gather points before heading into the Season Championship Battle By the Bay weekend in two weeks. In addition to TCMS points, the Soaring Eagle Late Models and Troll Smokehouse also competed for the coveted Allstar Performance TCMS/Merritt Challenge Series points and the big checks that come with winning the feature.

The Allstar Performance Challenge Series for the Soaring Eagle Casino Late Models were competing for a $6000 top prize for the winner of the 40-lap main event. Defending series Champion, Travis Stemler, and current series point leader, Dona Marcoullier, brought the field of 21 to the initial green flag start of the feature. Marcoullier shot out to the quick lead over Stemler. Numerous cautions within the first eight laps slowed the pace and kept the field close to Marcoullier back bumper. Dave Baker had an early shot at claiming the lead but could not pull alongside the leader. A long green flag run strung out the field with Marcoullier pulling away from the pack and navigating through slower traffic at the back of the field. The final caution came at lap 37 creating a final three lap shootout for the win. Brandon Thirlby had climbed from his tenth place starting position and had logged quicker laps around the track than Marcoullier just prior to that caution. On the restart, Thirlby cleared Marcoullier to lead lap 38. However, Marcoullier retook the lead at the white flag and held off Thirlby to collect another Challenge Series win and the $6000. Behind Thirlby were Baker, Cody Bauer, and Stemler. Joey Birch had to win the Last Chance Qualifier to gain entry into the feature. Heat races were captured by Chad Finley, Marcoullier, and Stemler.

The Troll Smoke House IMCA took the opportunity Friday night to collect some more points before many of them make their way to Boone, Iowa for the annual IMCA Super Nationals. Despite his feature win the previous week, Collin Thirlby has been leading the Challenge Series points but not the track point standings. His performance in the earlier heat race placed him on the pole for the 20-lap feature paying $1000 to win. Thirlby jumped out front with a lead that he did not relinquish leading all twenty circuits. His win vaulted him past point leader Matt Szecsodi in the season track standings and also cemented his spot atop the Challenge Series point lead. For the second week in a row, Myron DeYoung had to settle for a runner-up finish. Jeff Reay, Kody Johnson, and Chad Bennett completed the top five. The preliminary heat races were won by Bennett, Morrison, and Craig Vance. Tanner Pray qualified to race the feature by winning the last chance race.

The Auto Value Pro Stock point chase has been Andrew Steele’s for the majority of 2021. However, the past few weeks have been tough for the point leader. He suffered a mechanical failure a couple weeks ago which left him out of the feature race. The bad luck continued on Friday as a motor failure put Steele on the trailer just a few laps in to the main race. This gave title contender and former class Champion Nate Murphy a chance to make up some points on Steele. After front row starter Ray Meylan and Adam Erickson took turns pacing the field, Murphy climbed from 8th to take the lead on lap fourteen and somehow held off the rest of the field to collect his fourth feature of 2021. With Steele’s bad luck and Murphy’s win, they both are tied at the top of the Pro Stock standings heading into the final night of points at Battle By the Bay. Tim Murphy also came from row five to finish in second and was followed by heat race winner Ray Meylan, Jared Rizer and Teri Lynn Murphy.

The Auto House Factory Stocks left the track Friday night with the tightest point race of all the classes. Jim Miller Jr. and Ryan Nethers came into the night as co-point leaders. Eric Lake, the winner of the previous two features, had also climbed back into the Championship conversation. Nethers was the only one of the three that took a heat race win. Jacob Flickinger and Cameron Gordon were the first to the checkered flag in their heat races. Miller Jr. was not able to transfer to the feature from the earlier heat races and had to won the last chance race to tag on to the back of the 20-car A-main field. Gordon led the initial lap until Lake was able to uproot Gordon from the bottom groove and take the lead. Nick Putman and Nethers gave Lake all they had but came up short with Lake taking his third win in a row. He was followed to the finish by Nethers, Putman, Dean Rake Sr., and Blake Meylan. Miller Jr. could not overcome his mechanical gremlins but salvaged a ninth place finish which dropped him to third in the point standings. Nethers has now taken the Factory Stock point lead by two over Lake and eleven ahead of Miller Jr.

All twenty-four entrants in the XLT Engineering 4-6cylinder class started the 15-lap main affair. Point leader Chad Freeman, who had fuel pump issues during his heat race, had to start deep in the starting line-up while his competition for the Championship started near the front. Whittemore driver Cody Steinly led a pair of opening laps before Nicholas Thurston took his turn for a pair of laps. Seventh place starter Ethan Robarts used his patience to get by Thurston on lap five. Current point runner-up Nick Bullock had won his heat race earlier and looked like he might have had a shot to grab his first win of 2021. He and Herb Freeman battled many laps before trying to turn their attention to the leader Robarts. In the end, Robarts held on for the final ten laps to steal the win. Freeman and Bullock finished second and third. Chad Freeman moved forward eighteen positions for a fourth place finish ahead of Thurston. Freeman’s comeback in the feature helped him retain his point lead by 11 points over Nick Bullock. Former Champion Johnny Staszak won the other heat race.

The Allstar Performance Mini-Wedge classes had Bowen Jaynes winning the restricted motor heat race. Defending Champion Jett Gohr was able to outrace the field to grab the 10-lap feature win over Cason Murphy and Lincoln Hughey. The unrestricted motor class had the three DeShano’s in the top three of the feature finishing order as Pierson grabbed his first win of 2021. He finished ahead of Kyron and Brennan. Brennan DeShano was the heat race victor.

Next week will be the final Open Wheel night at TCMS. The Great Lakes Sprint group will bring their Super Sprints, Traditional Sprints, and Lightning Sprints for a night of action. The night will also have Allstar Performance Challenge Series Races for the UMP Modifieds competing for a $5000 top prize and B-Mods running for $3000 in their feature. . 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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