By T.J. Buffenbarger
After a great night of racing at I-96 Speedway featuring the Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 and the Great Lakes Super Sprints here are a few takeaways from the night’s action.
• Michigan sprint car fans have been fortunate this year to experience several sprint car double headers without support divisions this season. The All Star Circuit of Champions / Great Lakes Super Sprints event at I-96 Friday played in front of one of the largest crowds I’ve ever seen for an All Star Circuit of Champions event in Michigan. I love what Jeff Dice and his staff are doing to shake things up in the state of Michigan putting on big shows and packing the front gate without holding fans hostage through three or four divisions of cars.
Its great to see I-96 hosting a variety of major sprint car races this year and having them be successful. Both the ASCS National Tour and All Star events were major successes. In addition, the crowds for the Great Lakes Super Sprints programs were healthy as well. Hopefully this momentum can carry through the rest of the season and into 2020.
• Both the All Star and GLSS programs took some bizarre twists that at least for the All Stars could have impact on the championship. When the red flag came out for Ryan Ruhl getting upside down, Aaron Reutzel and Gio Scelzi, who were running first and second at the time, ended up making contact that sent Scelzi upside down and Reutzel to the work area twice and unable to make repairs.
Reutzel’s misfortune combined with Dale Blaney’s second place finish gave Blaney back the point lead with the All Stars in a championship race that is getting more intense as the races wind down.
The “add insult to injury” award of weirdness goes to the Lane Racing team who ended up with two wrecked race cars in two different states on the same night. Tabbing Ruhl to driver the “whisky wagon” at the home track of sponsor Beer Barrel Bourbon, the night ended with Ruhl upside down. In Ohio Cap Henry also ended up tearing up a car racing for second place at Attica Raceway Park. Lane and the crew might need some of their sponsors product to help the thoughts of this night to go away.
In the GLSS program the weirdness started quickly when Gregg Dalman and Brad Lamberson made contact and crashed before the race started. While Lamberson was unable to start Dalman fought his way from the back of the field to seventh. Once the race started the team cars of Max Stambaugh and Jared Horstman ran into mechanical issues, Horstman while leading. Phil Gressman ended up taking on a variety of challengers that kept falling by the wayside with mistakes and mechanical issues such as Chase Ridenour spinning in turns three and four, Dustin Daggett tripping in the cushion in turn two and having a mechanical issue that eventually turned into a crazy accident with Brett Mann.
All of this took place with a blood red full moon visible in the sky overlooking turn two.
• Cory Eliason has quietly put together a solid season with the Rudeen Racing team. His triumph at I-96 was his fourth win of the season and second with the All Stars this season. Keep an eye on how Eliason finishes out the season as he is one of the young drivers that may not get as much press are others but is trending the right direction to do big things in our sport.
• Andrew Scheid scored another second-place finish with GLSS on Friday at I-96. Its great to see the Scheid family, who have taken on learning how to setup and maintain the race car on their own, start to figure out that side of the equation combined with Scheid getting comfortable in the car.
Scheid quickly closed in on Gressman for the lead in lapped traffic with two laps to go, but Gressman used his experience do dispose of the slower cars before Scheid could make his move. It was a very important lesson that Scheid will surely remember and likely won’t let happen again. I have a feeling this young man will be in victory lane before the end of 2019.