Dirt track racing makes triumphant return in Northern Indiana

From Maggie Nixon

PLYMOUTH, Ind. – Sunday, May 06, 2012 — Kyle Yochum became the very
first driver to win in the dirt at Plymouth Speedway Saturday night.

Merrillville’s Yochum, driving the No. 33 UMP Modified, bested
Michigan’s Ryan Disterheft and Pete Thompson, of Bourbon, in the first
race at the 1/5-mile Bullring. “I liked the track, it had a lot of
bite,” Yochum said, who drove the high line and cut close into the
corners. “It worked out really well.”

Kokomo’s Shane Cottle wheeled his No. 11 non-wing Sprint over about 10
others in the field. He pulled ahead and never looked back, beating
Joe Liguori of Lebanon to the line by just about 4 seconds. On
average, it took the Sprints about 13 seconds to complete a lap.

“It was a lot of fun,” Cottle said. “This place was really neat; I
look forward to coming back here again.”

Following the leaders on the lead lap were Scotty Weir of Marion and
Joe Bares of Michigan. Finishing one lap down was Adam Byrkett of
Burnettsville and Kyle Dautrich of Tipton.

The remaining finishers were Jim Payne of Bryan, Ohio in 7th; Kevin
Atkins of Warsaw in 8th; and Dave Gross of Rochester in 9th.

The hottest contested race of the night once again featured the
Plymouth Hornets. Friday night saw slicing and dicing on the asphalt
between Sal Bustamante and Daren Miller, and Saturday was no different
for Miller, who traded places with Garrett Saunders back and forth
throughout the feature event on dirt the following night. Saunders
blew a right front tire, and quickly returned to the track seemingly
turning laps faster than before. He gave Miller a good run for it but
fell back on the final lap. Jamie Henriksen finished third.

Perhaps the most inspiring win on the Bullring was the night’s final
race that saw Eric Saunders racing once again. Saunders, Plymouth
Speedway track promoter and former motocross racer, was paralyzed from
the waist down two years ago August 28 in a practice crash on his
bike. The 19-year-old pulled onto the track in his Jeep Rally Compass
for the spectator races, and was pitted against Daren Miller in a
Saturn. Saunders pulled away from Miller immediately and held the lead
until the final lap, when Miller made his move to the inside to get
his nose to the inside of Saunders. A determined Saunders closed the
door and pulled ahead to take the checkers.

“It was a little like Ricky Bobby, a little shake and bake – if you’re
not first you’re last and that’s how it is,” laughed Saunders after
the race. “I’m just happy to be here. I want people to know not to
take life for granted. I’m just happy to be alive; nothing is