Trackside Tidbits, by Debi Domby
Since my last Trackside Tidbit article there’s been a theme going on with five first time winners (four feature and a heat winner). Congrats!!!!
Greg Stilwell Jr. won his first feature event on the way to his first Silver Cup Sportsman Championship on July 26 at Toledo. “The first thing I’d like to do is thank all my sponsors. Without them who knows how far we go in racing, but they definitely have helped us out a lot the past 18 years that we have competed! So, thanks to BLADES Lawn Care, Landscaping & Snow Removal, Fast Lane Automotive, Fuse Tech, Smashing Toledo, Freeze Frame Photos, Graphic Signs, B&W Automotive Paint, Ron Miller Race Cars & Fisher Metal & Fabricating. I can’t thank my wife Christy enough for letting me chase my dreams, she never made me choose anything over racing and I am forever grateful. I have to thank my mom, she always told me to keep trying even when she knew I was unsure. Then my dad, he has rock in this endeavor. He has put so many more hours into the car than me and is always excited to go racing. Without his extra time, we may have not even made it to the track several times through my career. My spotter Randy, his ability to keep me composed in the seat during intense key moments is unrivaled. Also, my Uncle Bobby, he just loves coming to the track and has help us with general maintenance and tires for several years. To be honest after 17 years in a Late Model Sportsman I was starting to get frustrated, we just never had any luck with setups. We were fast but not fast enough to compete with the top four or five cars. This year had to be different! I told myself that this year would make or break me. It really was my last go at continuing to chase my racing dream. I decided that I was going all in. We explored and went with a new shock package and sought out a setup that worked well for me. Thanks to some help from Ram Engineering & Yunker Motorsports we found it. After some strong showings and a disappointing last lap pass that resulted in a second place finish at Toledo. I knew that we had hit on something. The following week at Flat Rock it became clear that we had chance at a Championship in the Silver Cup Series. The next race at Toledo arrived, I was nothing but focused. I really wanted this Silver Cup Championship, when ARCA started this little series, I told my entire family that I wanted one of those cups! I had a fast car in practice and when I turned my fastest qualifying lap ever at a 17.197, I knew we had a fighting chance. The heat race was our chance to see if the car was as fast as we thought, and it didn’t disappoint. With that win all we had to do was finish fifth in the feature to win the Silver Cup Championship. It seemed pretty simple, however, I just thought to myself that it just wouldn’t feel right winning a championship without a signature win. I couldn’t have written my own story line any better than it played out! After dominating the entire race, it only seemed fitting to get my first ever LMSP Feature win! I am completely rejuvenated now, and I hope this is just the first of many more! A week later and I really can’t believe that we were able to sweep the night! Really haven’t stopped smiling since Friday night. It all seems so surreal still.
Ethan Stadniczuk won his first Street Stock A division feature on July 6. “First off I would like to thank my father, uncle and the crew for everything they have done for me. I would also like to thank my family, friends, and everyone at ARCA for giving me the opportunity to do this. When me and my dad were packing up the trailer for the track, he asked me, “Why do we do this?” and I responded, “Because we like to win”. Well Saturday was a prime example as we got to hold that trophy. I also want to thank my sponsors Hypercyl, M&N Controls, Stevens Disposal, 1Stop Speed Shop, Precision Epoxy, Forest View Lanes, Bedford Auto and PhotosByKuyoth.’
Jakob Lee won his first Figure 8 feature on July 6. “I started first place! We all didn't have the confidence that I was going to win because I was having car troubles right before the race. I had blown up my transmission in the rear end, and somehow, we still managed to take home the win. I would like to thank my uncle Richie, my dad Jerry Lee and everyone who helps us in the pits both big and little Dennis (Whisman), Jeff, Brice Thompson. I'd like to let them know that if it wasn't for my dad or my uncle Richie it wouldn't be possible for me to come out to the Rock and have a good time every weekend. As for my sponsors, I would like to thank Affordable Transmissions for making it possible for me to race. They do great work and at an affordable price … I would also like to thank my other sponsor Robert A. Mucha! He is an attorney and does phenomenal work and he is another reason it is possible for me to be able to come out to the track! Last but not least I just like to thank the whole racing family because regardless of everyone bumping heads out there, sometimes everyone always make sure that if someone needs help, or the rushing to get things done, and trying to make the race almost everybody is always willing to help out and make sure everyone gets to have the same amount of fun as they are. So, I just like to thank everyone at Flat Rock Speedway for always trying to be positive, and always giving people the extra confidence they need just to make them feel good! Also, I'd like to thank the rebel Dennis Jr for not only being a great friend but for always driving as clean as possible on the track and making sure that everyone has a fair shot at what they're doing. He's always drove me clean and even with him driving is clean as he does, he is still a very successful driver and has the skills of a Figure 8 driver and it's nice racing with him and big Dennis because they are my intermediate racing family.”
Albert Francis won the Gold Cup Series #3 race (at Toledo), becoming the youngest winner in the Gold Cup Series, at 17 years old (the former youngest was Johnny VanDoorn at 19). He’s 34th different driver to win in the series. “When the 16 (Cayden Lapcevich) died I honestly didn’t know what to think. My spotter came over the radio and told me to go get Mazz (Mike Mazzagatti) and (Brian) Bergakker, that we had a shot at the win. The caution came out and I just had to dual him (Bergakker, for the win). The car was great. I can’t thank all my sponsors enough for all they do; Francis Engineering, Habco Tool, Legan Trucking, McIntosh Oil, Hemly tool, Hambden Corners … also VanDoorn Racing Development for the bad fast car and setups,” said the driver from Painesville, OH. “To win at Toledo means more to me than winning everywhere else. I’ve been coming there since I was too little to even walk, they would sneak me in the pits because I hated having to be in the stands. I want to thank my dad and my whole crew especially crew chief, Casey.”
Not to be forgotten, Taylor Papineau won his first career race (Street Stock B division) on July 27 and on Aug. 4, Adam Plonski won his fist Late Model Sportsman heat.
Not only did we have all the first-time winners, but Eric Lee won his first LM feature in six years and Aaron Greathouse won his first Street Stock B division feature in five years.
Now for the Gold Cup #4 race.
The Gold Cup Series’ fourth race of the season ran a week late after the schedule weekend fell when heat indexes in area was between 105-110. But even if the race hadn’t been cancelled for that reason, five inches of rain in two hours the night before the scheduled race would’ve postponed the event.
Brian Bergakker won his second race of the 2019 Gold Cup season, and his second consecutive Stan Yee Memorial 150. “I really like racing this place (Flat Rock Speedway). Even the first time I came here in an Enduro car I liked racing here, it wasn’t a good, result but it was a lot of fun. We’ve had some good times here at the Flat Rock Speedway the last few years. (in reference on Brian moving to the front earlier than usual). (Going to the front early) It wasn’t the plan … The plan was to cruise for a while, but the car started getting hot in traffic, so I was going to push now and get out front and see if it cools off and it did. The plan right now is to run the remainder of the Gold Cup races. We like what you do, these shows are awesome … you guys (ARCA) put on a great show for the fans and we want to support it,” said the driver of the Central Transport, Sweet Mfg., Senneker Performance, Michigan Marking, Earnest Performance #12.
It was Bergakker’s fourth Gold Cup win, all at Flat Rock. It was his second Stan Yee Memorial win. Although there’s no official quarter mile championship, Bergakker had the most points at Flat Rock, 605 to Craig Everage’s 575 (rest of top 5 is: Harold Fair Jr 535, Frank Jiovani 520, Dennis Strickland and Eric Lee (tie) 505.
Craig Everage finished second for the second time this season. “Tried to catch Brian (Bergakker), but he was the class of the field. He’s won just about every big race here. I’m very happy to run second to Brian Bergakker … I think he might’ve built my car he worked at Senneker Performance. He wins a lot of races, he’s a stellar fella, a great race car driver. Wish I could’ve got a little closer to make it interesting for the fans but (Brian) Bergakker was a little too good. I want to thank Scott Hantz at Hurricane Speed Shop in Angola, Ind., he helps me and works on this car through the week. We do shocks and set ups for cars; I’d like to thank EverageAutos.com and God, my life is good, and if we all look at the positives, we’ll be better people. Thank you, Flat Rock Speedway and all the officials working here.”
Jeff Vrsek, third place. “To run third to Brian (Bergakker), holy smokes, he’s in another time zone right now … and Craig (Everage) too, both are really fast fast cars. To run third to those guys is a really good run. (It was a slower pace at the beginning), it was nice, everyone just got in ride mode, I don’t know what happened with those restarts at the beginning, but once we got going everyone got in a rhythm, it was good, I was able to take care of my tires, hoping I’d have something for the 101 (Craig Everage) because no one was catching the 12 (Brian Bergakker) today,” said the driver who’s #20 is sponsored by Diamond Pistons, Trend Performance, TS Group, 5 Mile Speed Shop, Simpson, Penske Shocks, Amsoil, Brinn Transmission, Microarmor
Dennis Strickland, who has won the most Gold Cup championships (2001, 2004, 2005, 2011) finished fourth in his PB Fabrication #0, “I came down on (Joe) Hawes there, that was my fault … I thought I was clear, and I wasn’t. So, I took the blame and went to the rear. The car was pretty good coming up through the field. It would’ve been interesting if we had not went to the rear to see where we would’ve finished … maybe would’ve had something for Bergakker, who knows. The car would turn really good if I hung the left front off of the race track. Coming out of (turn) four I was getting a little loose because I was getting down a little too low in the bumps and stuff. It was pretty good up high… if I could get next to a guy I could kind of control him, and make the pass. It was a good strong field of cars tonight and it wasn’t easy to pass people, trust me.”
Finishing fifth was two-time defending Series Champion, Frank Jiovani, was the other leader of the event but when a car blew up in front of him, he lost the lead in the ensuing smoke screen. “We saw the car blow up in front of us and went sliding through the oil and we assumed too early (there would be a yellow). Unfortunate mistake, but we had a good point night. The VanDoorn Development car was pretty fast, but think we knocked the toe-in when we got into Harold (Fair Jr) trying to get the thing going again. Overall, we’re still in the points deal so we’re happy with that. After qualifying we made a few changes, and this car was pretty damn good,’ said the driver sponsored by Moran Automotive, VanDoorn Racing Develop., Painters Supply, McQuade Heating-Cooling, 4th Street Auto, JV Auto Repair, Francis Engineering Racing Engines
It was a co-sanctioned race with the Main Event. Scott Pemberton and Mike Root was in that series top 5 in points. Root had mechanical problems in hot laps and Pemberton finished 14th after spending about 23 laps in the pits.
Of the 19 cars that started, five cars didn’t finish. Tom O’Leary, Joe and Steve Hawes, Harold Fair Jr and Dan Trosen Jr. Trosen was the car that put up a cloud of smoke (he thinks it might’ve been a hose) which caused the leaders to scramble behind him.
On a side note, if the Yee 150 had been raced its scheduled night, Trosen was scheduled to do a double … a very interesting one. He would’ve raced the Yee at night and raced a Formula Light tunnel boat in the afternoon. With the heat warning out in the lower half of Michigan last Saturday, and most tracks cancelling, he was the one of the few racers that got to race something. He finished fourth in his feature (in Trenton on the Detroit River) and was sponsored by Moran Chevrolet. The week before he finished second in Bay City. Wish I could’ve put a picture in my article because the boat is pretty neat looking. In 26 seasons of covering auto racing, think this is the first time I had a double that was land and water.
Caleb Barron won his second Street Stock A division feature. “*Validation* One win could be called lucky...that's why this one is so important to us. A little luck did help us out in our front row starting position, but as Edna "E" Mode once said, "Luck favors the prepared!" It was a rough start to the day as we "debated" the plan we wanted to take with the chassis, depending on track conditions, tire conditions, etc. The current setup has not been favorable the past few weeks, and running on one-two week old tires was going to prove tricky as well. But the goal was to fine tune as best we could on old tires in preparation for the 100-lap race in a week. Bouncing ideas off of Collin, we decided to take some big swings, as we were barely in the 13.6's ... actually not bad considering our tire situation and recent spring change, but we thought we could ask for "another tenth" at least. Another big chassis swing, and we were in the 13.5's, with qualifying up next. A best lap of 13.534, good for 10th...a pleasant surprise! With a possible inversion of 12, we were at least in contention for a roll of 10, and sure enough, luck was on our side once again. So, should we use our 100 lap tires now, or still keep them for the following week? It was kind of a silly question, but we asked ourselves anyway, just to be sure we all agreed. We wanted to at least put one heat cycle into them before the feature, so we ran them in the heat race- starting fourth and on the outside. I gently worked some heat into them by finishing fourth, never really pushing the car or tires to their limits. The feature proved to be an exercise in patience. Two red flags stopped the action twice, the second coming with a decent lead on the field, and just one yellow, adding to our impatience on the other side of the wall. As Mike's video shows, it took just a few laps after each restart for Caleb to get cleanly out front, and stay there until the checkered. Big shout out to Landon Schuster, Scott Selmi, and David Liaeff for racing us clean...we'll race side by side with these guys any day! Still a bit surreal seeing the 103 up front, battling with the best in our class, not just for positions, but for wins. It’s a great feeling knowing we are hitting our stride with our season just starting to wind down, sitting eighth in points, and with our biggest race of the season coming up this weekend. Perhaps there is still a little luck waiting for us? Again, we couldn't do this without the support of our sponsors Becky Hernandez 31 Gifts, Mills Gymnastics, Jamie Szawara Matco Tools, Barbara McConnell Michigan Massage Professionals, Shearrer’s Arts’n’Motions, family, friends, and all of you. Sharing our success with everyone makes it that much sweeter!”
Wilburn Parks battled Rich Abel for most of the Street Stock B division feature, taking the victory. “Had fun out there for a while… Always have fun when you win. The car ran pretty good today.”
Billy Earley won the Figure 8 feature. “I thought I was finishing second. Jeremy (Vanderhoof) got way out there (he had approximately one straightaway lead), he’s fast and it’s hard to catch him especially in 20 laps. Sometimes you’re in the right spot at the right time … I felt bad for him, he’s trying to get one here but…have to thank the good Lord, B&H Race Parts, my dad and my whole family. It got pretty interesting there (in the X), get the car count up, it makes it even better, more cars to watch.
Catching up: July racing quotes.
Four-time Late Model Champion (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011) Eric Lee won his first feature at Flat Rock in six seasons (although he’s only recently returned to racing regularly at the track). “It feels good to win a race… it’s been a while. It’s been a few years since we’ve been in victory lane, and we haven’t raced here a lot in the last few years. We’re back now and it feels good to get the monkey off of our backs. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs the last couple years and finally headed in the right direction. We lost a really good friend in the last year, Don Johnson, and I’d like to dedicate this race to Don … he was a great mentor to me and my dad, he taught us a lot about building these race cars, building these bodies, we lost a good guy. This one is for Don,”
Ethan Stadniczuk won his first career Street Stock A feature.
Jerry Farmer won the Street Stock B division feature, “The car ran pretty good out there.”
Five-time Figure 8 champion (2009, 2014-18) Billy Earley won the Figure 8 feature, “It’s a real advantage starting near the front. I knew Jeremy (Vanderhoof) was coming so I was saving my stuff. Once I knew he was there, I knew we’d start racing. It was a lot of fun. We have more than a handful of cars so it’s a lot of fun. Thank the good Lord, B&H Race Parts, my dad and my whole family. After the first few laps couldn’t see out of the windshield, it was covered, so I was driving out my side window.”
Nine-time LM Sportsman champion (2000-1, 2004, 2006-7, 2011-12, 2014, 2015) Ron Allen won the LM Sportsman race, his 70th LMS feature (which is nearly three times as many as second place in wins Jim Froling). “What a crazy night at Flat Rock last night ...after a 3rd restart of the first lap I was involved in a crash in turn 3..Left front was torn up pretty bad but by the time I got back to my trailer on the wrecker there was a whole group of people there waiting to repair the car . All these people worked there butt off getting suspension changed and got me back on the track in time for another try at getting race started . To say the least I was mad and was gonna drive the wheels off the car to win that race after all the work and help by so many others . I want to truly truly thank ALL of the people that helped make it possible for me to get the WIN. I don't wanna leave anybody out so again I just wanna say a very big THANK YOU TO ALL from my crew to all the friends that came and helped and even those that was there if I needed more help ....This win is only possible because of all of you ...”
Ethan Stadniczuk … won his second Street Stock A division feature in a row.
Aaron Greathouse won the B division feature. It was his first feature win in over five seasons, his last being July, 13, 2014.
Jakob Lee won his first career Figure 8 feature.
Corrigan Oil 100, Street Stocks
Greg Studt became the winningest driver in the Street Stock 100 lap races, with his third victory in the A division’s longest race of the season. “I felt him (Jim Froling) back there on the outside late in the race. The car got real real tight, I was happy to just crawl through the corners to hold him low. Sometimes all you have to do is block a little and speed up if they get outside of you. We got a great group of friends, fine establishments that help us out here. I want to thank Carl’s Discount Furniture, the Carl’s Furniture crowd is with us tonight; Apollo Broach, Wine Town Party Store, Budget Tire, Mark Sharrard. Passing to the outside here, no matter who you’re passing is tough, even the lapped cars. The car was good on the outside tonight, but didn’t have to run there much tonight.
Troy Brehmer won his second B main part of the 100 lapper night. “Sometimes is better to be lucky and be in the right spot. I don’t think I was going to catch them (Lonnie York and Trevor Farmer). They took each other out, don’t know who did what to what, sometimes you get lucky. What do they say, it’s better to be lucky than good any day. Thanks to the fans for coming out tonight at Flat Rock for coming out tonight and supporting us. Without you we wouldn’t be out here playing in our cars.” After getting the trophy, “Holy Cow, look at that thing … it’s huge! Look at that!” I want to thank Corrigan Oil and all the other sponsors here and Toledo.”
Howard Kelley Jr led the entire 25-lap Late Model Sportsmen race. “The battle with Ronnie Allen, tell me about it. After the red flag my car was just really loose, before the red flag my car was great. I told my spotter, we’re going to finally get this monkey off our backs at Flat Rock. We used to come here and win a lot, but then we’ve been struggling for years and couldn’t win. We finally did it and I want to thank Ronnie Allen for being a great competitor. He could’ve got into me and he didn’t, and I’m glad. The same with whoever was behind me, I want to thank them too (It was Mike Young). Everyone raced pretty clean. I want to thank my crew, Adam, Jimmy, Al … I want to thank my wife, she lets me do all this stuff and puts up with it … I want to thank Walt’s Auto World … also Jimbo, Mikie, my brother Brian, Pete Panama, J’s Bar, and Hearts Racing … and Corrigan Race Fuels for sponsoring tonight.
Rich Abel had a scary wreck in the Street Stock B division feature. Rich’s car has “Jesus Saves” on the back panel and his Guardian Angel was doing a good job as he hit the infield light pole head on. It was reported he was sore but fine…. The car looked pretty bad from the stands, but I haven’t heard how he made out. Robert Meiring’s accident in the Sportsman feature was scary also with is car ended up on it’s side, so everyone’s Guardian Angels were busy tonight.
(NOTE: Statistics back to 2005)
** Rob Moore is the only driver to race in all 15 of the 100-lap Street Stock races. Next in line is Kyle Worley with 12 races; Arnold Kirsch, Clyde McKee, Scott Selmi (plus one start in the B division feature on the 100-lapper night), Tim Moore tied with 11 starts and Rich Frantz with 10 race.
**A division 100-lapper Wins: Greg Studt, 3; Chad Guinn, Dan Ford Jr, 2; Clyde McKee, Jeff Metdepenningen, Randy DeMaggio, Ray Morneau Jr, Ron Allen, Steve Cronenwett Jr, Tadek Stadniczuk, Tim Moore 1.
B division Wins (as part of the 100-lapper night): Tied for first, Troy Brehmer, Lonnie York, Rich Abel, James Pankow tied with two wins.
I want to thank all the drivers that sent me messages on Messenger. I love hearing from you, so you can send me a message on www.facebook.com/icechips or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write something on your Facebook page and want me to just grab it from your page, please send me a note saying it’s okay to take … I have a list of pages that I check each race.
If you missed any of this year’s action visit Mike Miller’s YouTube page at: https://www.youtube.com/user/10yearnascarfan, ,