By Trevor Hollis
In what was supposed to be the half way point of the season for the Lane Automotive Michigan Traditional Sprints, the Butler Speedway hosted 22 of the best non-wing sprint cars the state of Michigan has seen. Going into the night only 45 points separated the top 5 in the current standings but only three of those top five were on hand to race on Saturday night so it looked like we would all see a new points leader. Gregg Dallman, the opening night winner at the Merritt Speedway, went into the night as the points leader but was down at the Eldora speedway chasing a championship with the NRA sprint invaders so it looked as though, with a good run Traverse City native and Cherry raceway winner Joe Bares would leave Quincy, Mi with the points lead and strong motivation to run well going into the series next event, the second annual Sprint Tic weekend at Merritt Speedway.
The first eight cars of the night rolled out for the Full Circle Energy heat race number one and it proved to be a very good indicator of things to come. Indiana native and regular at the Gas City speedway Jason Holt made the trip up to Michigan to try his hand with the Michigan Traditional Sprints and right out of the gate he was hooked up. Holt started on the pole and never looked back as a caution free race put him in victory lane over Joe Bares and Michigan Vs Ohio challenger Tyler Hewitt. The Hoosier race tire heat race number two saw former Butler Speedway sprint car champion and MTS regular Chuck Wilson in the winner’s circle. Jim Payne, who would have a very interesting night would come home second and rookie of the year contender, Kevin Hawk would round out the top three. Next up in the program was the best race of the night in the Allstar Performance heat race number 3. John Nelson of Ada Ohio took the early race lead and looked to be on track to picking up a heat race win but Doug Zimmerman of Montgomery, Mi made a tremendous move coming out of turn number 4 to nip the 9n at the line by inches and steal the win away. Nelson would hold on to second place and rounding out the top 3 would be former Greenville, mi native and current Indiana racer Don Smith Jr.
After the redraw 18 year old rookie and the driver currently 5th in points in MTS standing Kevin Hawk would start on the pole alongside heat race one winner Jason Holt. The field clicked off 10 lightning quick laps before a caution for a spin involving Jim Payne, Mark Irwin, and Don Smith Jr slowed the field down for the first time. Smith was unable to continue. Once racing action resumed it was Holt that had taken over the lead. The field was again slowed for a second time when the pole sitter Kevin Hawk spun in turn four and was not able to keep his machine rolling. Hawk was forced to restart on the tail and the young man’s hope of picking up his first ever feature win went out the window. As the 25 lap Northwestern Auto Machine A feature started to wind down Holt had checked out on the field but a tremendous battle raged on for second between John Nelson in the 9n and the 19 of Joe Bares. With two laps to go Nelson over drove turn 2 and went up the track allowing Bares to sneak by to complete a one two finish for DRC racecars. Holt was able to easily pick up the feature win with Joe Bares coming home second, John Nelson was third, Doug Zimmerman fourth, Tyler Hewitt round out the top five. Asked afterwards about the run Holt gave all the credit to God and a perfect set up on his Physical Medicine Consultants, AED motorsports DRC racecar.
After four events in 2011 Joe Bares has taken over the points lead in the season standings with a small lead over Chuck Wilson and son Chad Wilson. After a rough night of racing rookie Kevin Hawk still sits fourth in points and rounding out the top 5 is Columbiaville native Mark Irwin. In the Michigan vs Ohio challenge Jason Holt and Joe Bares are one-two. Jon Nelson, Doug Zimmerman, and Tyler Hewitt are your top 5.
The Lane Automotive Michigan Traditional sprints will next be in action as part of the second annual Sprint Tic Weekend at the Merritt Speedway in Merritt, Mi coming up on Friday August 5th and Saturday August 6th. Friday will have the non-wing sprints, MORA mini outlaws, Mini sprints, and pro trucks in action with a live band to follow. Saturday will feature once again the non-wing sprints, MORA mini outlaws and mini sprints but will also see the Late Models, UMP modifides, and pro trucks in action. Weekend passes for the sprint tic weekend are $30 and camping will be $10. Lap sponsorship options are available for the Sprint tic weekend and information on Payout and the remaining schedule can be found on the MTS website at www.mtsprints.com.
A feature Finishing order (Butler Speedway): 1- 41 Jason Holt, 2 – 19 Joe Bares, 3 – 9n John Nelson, 4 – 19z Doug Zimmerman, 5 – 21 Tyler Hewitt, 6 – 31 Chuck Wilson, 7 – 7 Nic Rogers, 8 – 14 Chad Wilson, 9 – 48 Scott Hull, 10 – 3a Mike Austraukus, 11 – 35 Mark Strpko, 12 – 18 Mark Irwin, 13 – 00 Joe Irwin, 14 – 100 Jim Payne, 15 – 1h Kevin Hawk, 16 – 0k Don O’keefe, 17 – 44 Tom Davies, 18 – 12b Mike Baker, 19 – 06 Don Bostrom, 20 – 5k Dave Ockerman, 21 – 61x Donald Smith, 22 – 58w Jacob Caines.