Flat Rock, MI--May 13, 2017: Mother Nature finally cooperated Saturday night as Flat Rock Speedway kicked off its 2017 season with the Jet’s Pizza Season Opener. Race fans were treated to an excellent night of entertainment by all 3 divisions of race cars. Fans also had the opportunity to meet the drivers during the Autograph session held prior to the races. The TKC Go-Karts staged a pair of exhibition races, while the track also hosted the Monroe County 4-H members.
Justin Schroeder took to the high side to get by Frankie Jiovani with 3 laps to go to win the 50 lap ARCA Moran Chevrolet Late Model feature. Jeff “Fireball” Metdepennigen scored a big win, holding off Ray Morneau Jr. and Greg Studt in the 25 lap caution-free ARCA DTS Drive Train Specialists Street Stock A Main, while Wilburn Parks grabbed his first-ever Flat Rock win in the 15 lap ARCA Street Stock B Main. Second-generation driver Dennis Whisman Jr. held off a charge by Jeremy Miller and Billy Earley to win his first-ever 20 lap Victory Lane Quick Oil Change Figure 8 feature.
4 different drivers took turns leading the 50 lap Moran Chevy Late Model contest. Pole sitter Scott Pemberton grabbed the point on the green flag. The 8 car inversion made for some great racing throughout the pack. Jimmy Thiel got by Scott on lap 13 to take the lead, only to have Pemberton come charging back on the inside lane to regain control of the top spot 2 laps later. Defending champ Paul Pelletier began to apply the pressure to the leader, looking to the low side of Pemberton. On lap 26, Paul got crossed up in the front-straight and spun, bringing out the second and final yellow of the race. Pelletier ended up dropping out with a tire going down, ending his night.
Moran Chevy Fast qualifier Frankie Jiovani immediately went to the outside lane on the restart and took the lead away from Pemberton. With the “Dented Fender Racing” Mystery bonus of $400 up to the fast qualifier (if he wins the feature), it appeared that Jiovani was ready to collect. Justin Schroeder, however, began his charge to battle for the lead. The lead duo went three wide with a lapped car on the bottom as the great racing action continued. Schroeder kept the pressure on and got by Jiovani with 3 to go. Jiovani powered even with Justin on several tries as Schroeder came up with the exciting victory over Jiovani, Pemberton, Stan Yee Jr., Thiel, Corey Duane, Steve Cronenwett Jr., Jeff Plumb, Terry Bogusz and Chris Benson. Plumb collected the Moran Chevy Hard Charger bonus. Jiovani set the Moran Chevy fast time at 11:713 for the 20 car field.
A door to door fight for the lead between Jeff Metdepenningen and 2016 track champ Greg Studt waged on for over a dozen laps, with Jeff able to pull slightly ahead and then hold back another charge from youngster Ray Morneau Jr. to win the 25 lap ARCA DTS Drive Train Specialists Street Stock A Main. Jeff led every lap from his number 1 starting spot, with Studt moving quickly from the number 5 slot to battle for the point. Morneau entered the picture with 5 to go and nosed under Greg in the last 3 laps to put more pressure on the leader. Metdepenningen held on for the big win over Morneau, Studt, Nick Shanks, Jeff Luttermoser, Rob Moore, Guy Fire, Grant Hedges, Scott Selmi and Rob Randa.
Wilburn Parks scored his first-ever win at the track, taking the win in the 15 lap B Main over Dennis Helsel, Caleb Barron, Rich Abel, Justin Rodriguez, Alan Kennedy, David Liaff, Brian Moore and Adam Jezylo. Studt set the Fastime Racing Engines and Parts fast time for the 30 car field at 13:478, while Caleb Barron led the B cars at 14:181. Hedges, Rob Moore Jr., Clyde McKee, Abel and Moore took the heat race wins.
Another second-generation driver has now entered the record books in the ARCA Victory Lane Quick Oil Change Figure 8 division as Dennis Whisman Jr. took advantage of his father’s misfortunes and then held back the charge of Jeremy Miller and Billy Earley to win his initial 20 lap feature race. Another second generation driver, Jakob Lee, led the first 5 laps until Dennis Whisman Sr. motored by to take the lead. Running strong out front, Dennis had his engine let go on lap 8, giving the lead to his son, Dennis Jr., who had been running second. The youngster displayed his skills as former track champs Miller and Earley stayed glued to his bumper the remaining laps. Whisman held on for the first win of his career, with Miller second, Earley third, Dan Apperson was fourth (coming back from an early spin), Lee, Scott Apperson, Ethen Lambert, Travis Earley, James Vanderhoof and Joe Vanderhoof. Whisman Sr. and rookie Joe Vanderhoof took the heat wins. Joe’s win was his first checkered flag. Earley posted the Fastime Racing Engines and Parts quick time at 20:904. Lee won the $50 Sunoco bonus award for the night.
The Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club honored Greg Studt with a helmet bag as part of Racing Fan Club Night. The Dayton Auto Racing Fan Club provided T-shirts and club memberships to the feature winners.
Saturday night action continues at Flat Rock Speedway May 20 with UAW Local 3000 Night. It’s also Kid’s Night! All kids to age 12 will be admitted FREE with a paid adult and receive a FREE hot dog, courtesy of the track. The rescheduled Scout Night will also be held May 20. All Scouts in uniform will be admitted free, with leaders in uniform or with an ID card also admitted free.
The Monroe News 250 lap Enduro race hits the speedway for their first event of 2017, with a full race card also slated for the Street Stocks and Figure 8’s. Race time is 7 p.m.