Flat Rock, MI—April 28, 2018: Flat Rock Speedway kicked off the new year with the Jet’s Pizza Season Opener Saturday night. A group of hardy race fans braved the cold temperatures to take in the first race of the season. Jimmy Thiel, Dennis Whisman Jr., Ray Morneau Jr. and James Pankow took the feature wins.
ARCA President and Flat Rock owner/promoter Ron Drager addressed the race teams in the pre-race driver’s meeting, assuring all that racing will continue at Flat Rock under the same management team. On Friday, it was announced that ARCA had been acquired by NASCAR. The purchase does not include Drager’s 2 short tracks, Flat Rock and Toledo.
Jimmy Thiel showed his strength in his heat race and continued that pattern in the 50 lap ARCA Moran Chevrolet Late Model feature. Thiel darted into the lead on a re-start after Joe Hawes #53 dropped fluid on the track, bringing out the yellow on lap 3. Thiel spun in the oil, but was given his spot back. On that re-start, Jimmy zipped into the lead and sailed to the win over Frank Jiovani, Jeff Vrsek, Paul Pelletier, Stan Yee Jr., Dennis Strickland, Craig Everage, Tadek Stadniczuk, Corey Duane and Scott Pemberton. Yee Jr. set the Moran Chevrolet Fast Time at 11:758. Heat winners were Thiel and Rob Randa. Vrsek was perhaps the fastest car on the track at the end of the feature, moving up 7 spots and collecting the Moran Chevy Hard Charger bonus. Thiel and Yee Jr. were the Penske Shock award winners.
Second-generation driver Dennis Whisman Jr. steered his #2 with a new paint scheme for the year to the opening night win in the 20 lap ARCA Victory Lane Quick Oil Change Figure 8 feature. A small field of cars still featured several intersection near-misses as both Dave Lambert and Joseph Vanderhoof provided the action! The all-green flag event saw defending champ Billy Earley reel in Whisman Jr. with 5 laps to go. Billy looked inside and outside to get by the leader, but Dennis was in command at the checkered flag, holding off Earley for the win. Eugene Worden scored a great run with third spot, Jeremy Miller was fourth and Dennis Whisman Sr. fifth, followed by Dan Apperson, Travis Earley, Vanderhoof and Lambert. Miller took the heat win. Earley posted the Fastime Racing Engines and Parts quick time at 20:786.
Out to defend his title, Windsor, Ontario native Ray Morneau Jr. held back several strong challenges from Guy Fire and Jeff Metdepenningen to win the 25 lap ARCA DTS Drive Train Specialists Street Stock feature. Ray led every circuit, but several yellows bunched the field each time for the double-file restarts. Fire worked hard on the outside lane, while Jeff ducked low. The cold track made the outside lane a bit tough, but Craig Lange looked quick up high in the late stages, moving from 9th up to 4th. At the finish, with the field bunched up in the battle, positions changed, with Morneau Jr. topping Metdepenningen, Fire, Rob Randa, Grant Hedges, Rob Moore, Lange, Greg Studt, David Liaeff and Rob Moore Jr.
A great race for the entire 15 laps saw James Pankow edge by race-long leader Alan Kennedy with 2 laps to go to pick up the victory in the 15 lap ARCA DTS Drive Train Specialists Street Stock B Main event. The all-green flag race saw Kennedy in command as Pankow and Anthony Camilli took turns pushing Alan for the lead. On lap 13, Pankow used a lapped car to his advantage and slid between that car and the leader to take the point and then the win. Kennedy, Camilli, Ian Jezylo, Rich Abel, Collin Barron, Paul Duffin, Todd Burtscher, rookie L.J.Farmer and Joe Haener completed the top ten.
A great 34 car Street Stock field saw Studt set the Fastime Racing Engines and Parts fast time at 13:423. Pankow was the B Main fast man at 14:135. Hedges, Scott Selmi, Clarity Patton, Kennedy and Duffin took the heat race wins.
Saturday, May 5 is Jack’s Bicycle Scout Night at Flat Rock Speedway. All scouts in uniform and leaders in uniform or with an ID card will be admitted free as guests of the track for the 3-division race card, featuring the Late Models, Figure 8’s and Street Stocks. The spectator gates open at 4 and racing begins at 7 p.m.