NOTE: If you’d like to send me something for the column send me a note through Facebook Messenger www.facebook.com/icechips or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to my next column. If you have a website or Facebook page for your team, let me know and I’ll visit there after the races for an update.
*** May 6 - Opening night***
The 2023 season opened with 57 cars taking the green flag for features. It’s the largest field since 2017 when 60 cars took part in feature races. The Outlaw Super Late field of 16 was a couple less than opening night last year. The 28 Street Stocks was the largest opening night for the Division since 2017, when 30 cars competed. The 13 Figure 8s was the largest since the opener in 2017 when 14 started the feature.
The Outlaw Super Late had a first time ARCA feature winner, Justin Claucherty. Justin normally runs the long-distance races at the track with his previous best finish of third in the Joy Fair 100 (June 2016). “It was great to be back at Flat Rock Speedway after a two-year hiatus, and the car was fast right out of the trailer. Had a great race with Chris and Eric and was fortunate enough to be in position to capitalize and take the lead when the opportunity presented itself. Special thanks to sponsors S.A.S. Auto Club, Complete Tree, and KT Trucking.”
Welcome Back, Len Roberts! He last raced at Flat Rock in July 2007. The car number is familiar to long-time fans, a 0 with a star in it. The car was formerly raced by Dennis Strickland, so it’s a good one. Len finished 11th in his first night out in 17 seasons.
Two rookies were in the field. Craig Osenbaugh and RJ Cornett. Oddly the duo are numbers 7 and 8, respectively. Both names are familiar in different ways. Craig is a long-time competitor at Flat Rock and Toledo and over the years, has driven nearly all the different divisions at the tracks. Late models is probably the one of the few he hasn’t competed in yet; RJ is the son of former OSLM champion Royce Cornett.
“I’ve raced Figure 8 in Factory Stock and I was one of the first to race Figure.8 chain race. I’ve also raced Toledo Street Stocks, X cars, Sportsman, and Late Model Sportsman. I owe a thanks to my sponsor Mitch Duckwall for taking a chance on me as well as Beabout Racing in the factory stock division and also Brian Moore and family for the opportunity of racing his OSLM for the season, which is not an easy task but a welcomed challenge,” said Osenbaugh, the 2017 Factory Stock Champion at Toledo.
RJ is at the other end of the spectrum, racing only several years, mostly dirt trucks. Mom Tiffany sent me a couple really nice articles that can be found here: lm.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fbedfordpress.net%2FIssues%2F2023_05_02%2FMay_02_2023.pdf%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR2vk1ntoocoCniYfQW3dbZLAYnyGZqp5470x6vo7AJEpPILpTCHTp5C76w&h=AT0pOgaGUjXrIhyeOXLHXnrnj328lmh7_FtmKdiVMWbQI1jaUtb0Hsj4p4hBgjuBeOXVp2OEs0rJdQ7Z05plUZ5BiYxRu70sZQE8MmCvHs4uzpsyxwMtxjjkJNoy5oX1UA and www.monroenews.com/story/sports/2023/05/05/family-legacy-to-continue-at-flat-rock-speedway-with-new-cornett-at-wheel/70179139007/
Defending Street Stock A Division Champion, Jeremy Vanderhoof, was victorious in the Street Stock A division feature. It breaks a streak of three opening night wins for Greg Studt (he finished sixth). “First and foremost, I want to wish my wife a very happy birthday. Yeah, I'm not sure when we're going on in the heat race, it just wouldn't run. Brought it back to the pits after the heat race and the best guy in the business went to town on a it and wasn’t 100% but … Would’ve like to run a lot harder but still missing out a little bit but you have to take it when you can get it. Yeah, we had a tight car, so once we moved up that helped it a little bit. You know Doug's a very good driver. He's definitely got some wins coming his way. Like to thank our sponsors: Patrick Signs, Aero Truck Parts, SP Guns and Ammo, Seigel Chiropractor and new this year, Garner Jewelry and Exchange.
Brandon Randa won his first career Street Stock A division heat race. Dad, Rob, who was in a new OSLM also won his heat.
Two of the Street Stocks have changed their numbers for the 2023 season. Austin McKee has changed his number from #5 to #6 to match the number he wore in Lacrosse. Kenyon Knight was #21 last year and is now #19. Bobby Stewart was in #27 this year rather than his #68.
Troy Brehmer ran his first Street Stock B division race since July 2019 (he normally races in the Enduro Division) and made it count with a victory in the same division. It was his first feature win since August 2019 when he won the B Division feature as part of the Street Stock 100 night. “Fantastic night tonight. Fantastic crowd. Thank you. It's wonderful to drive it here into the winner's circle on opening night.”
Although Greg Studt’s streak of opening night wins in the Street Stock A Division was broken, all was not lost as he won the Figure 8 feature, so getting a win on opening night now stands at four in a row. It’s his first opening night win in the Figure 8 division since 2015. “Man, that was more like a race and nice job. We had the oil in the corner and had the red flag. You know, once we run it in good, you try to test it out on the warm up lap. We're running it in and kind of gauge what it is but I had no problem. The street stock (feature) didn't end up where we wanted but we got one of the two cars victory lane. This one (Figure 8 feature) gives me a chance to redeem myself. I was a bit out to lunch in the Street Stock feature, but this guy right here, she's running good. I might run a little more often.”
It wasn’t a first-time winner, which everyone loves to see, but something close. Year after year, Chris Benson has been working trying to win again. On opening night, he led most of the Outlaw Super Late Model feature only to get passed six laps to go. This week, he led all 50 laps (that’s 91 of the 100 laps run so far this season) to win his first feature race in 15 seasons. His last win was in August 2008. I looked through my records and for a driver that raced nearly every year Jimmy Theil went 10 years between 2006 and 2016 (he didn’t race two seasons, as did Chris, between wins).
“It’s been a long 15 years in between wins. First, I want to thank my sponsors that have stuck by me. Churchill Transport, The Detroit Tubing Mill, Royal Truck and Trailer, Jim's Butcher Shop, Motor City Antique and Glen's Auto Parts. Then I want to thank Harold Fair Jr and family for resurrecting my racing career. I was on the brink of selling all the equipment and calling it a career. It was his idea for me to drive the car (which I purchased) and see if I would like it or not. We were fast right out of the gate, and I gained my confidence back as a driver. After having my best career in points last year and in contingent for wins … I can say we're competitive again. After giving up a victory in week one, I was more determined than ever to get back to victory lane. And especially, I gotta thank dad for his hard work and dedication and to see him happy. That is the best trophy for me. And lastly, I want to thank all the competitors that congratulated me in person and the texts. It means a lot to me!”
Lance Lipasek won his second career Street Stock A division feature. “It was great to have my first win of 2023 in only my eighth start ever in a Street Stock! I'd like to thank my Mom, Dad, Brother, Grandpa and Grandma Lipasek, Eric, Kim, and Cody Britt, Dick Myers & RAM Engineering Midwest, Scott Tienma. and Supercar Specialties, Jon Lund at APEX Competition Engines, Phil Massuch at Engine Machine Services. Keep up on our race team at Triple L Motorsports on Facebook and Lance Lipasek on Instagram. Thanks to all the fans for coming out this year, and hopefully you'll see more of us throughout 2023.”
Ian Jeyzlo won his first race this year. “I pretty much wasn't gonna give it to him. He’s (Troy Brehmer) a great racer, Last week I ran into him twice, not on purpose. I tried to give him a doughnut last week and ended up door slamming him. But this is great. I've been back in victory lane and it's been a couple years his last win was July 2021). And I just happy just to be here again. It's always fun. This is one of the greatest tracks you can possibly run. I mean, the staff here is excellent, the racing is great.”
Dennis Whisman Jr won the Figure 8 feature. “Greg Studt and Jeremy Vanderhoof really did put some pressure on me. I really just want to thank Richie Lee, my dad spent all the hard working on this car we had a bad first week came back strong. Everyone's down there tonight helping me to appreciate it. Always nice to get that first one of the season out of the way earlier. I want thank my sponsors Counting Consultants, Affordable Transmission, Marks Toy Box, Royal Truck and Utility Trailer, Martins Tire, Rebel Racing, Custom Graphix and Tees. Special thanks to my dad and Rich Lee, they were the reason I was there that night and for the rest of the year and thank you to my dad for all the work he puts into the car. Thank you to my Wife, my mom and D3.”
Congratulations to Jeremy Vanderhoof on his second victory of the season in the Street Stock A Division. He’s the only driver to have two feature wins this year. All the other divisions have not had a repeat winner yet. Jeremy also won the Figure 8 feature
Some drivers tied their career best finishes. Both Evan Batkins and Mike Miller tied their best A Division feature finishes. Evan with a 14th and Mike with 18th. Mike also had a career-best qualifying lap of 13.650.
Congratulations also go to Bobby Stewart winning his second career Street Stock B division race.
Rookie David Fisher finished a career-high second in his third career B division race. His first two weeks he finished fifth in both races.
Over the last couple weeks, some drivers have returned for time in some years. Dan Ford Jr returned on May 13, racing for the first time since June 2018, he finished ninth; May 20, brother Regan drove, his first race since May 2018. The brothers are in a car formerly driven by Max Fair (#104) and are sponsored by The Oak Cafe, Wolfs Den and Friendly Ford. Another interesting tidbit on the brothers. Dan has the most SS championships with five, Regan with three … for a stretch between 2004 and 2010 one of the other of the Fords won the championship with exception of 2006 when Steve Cronenwett Jr won.
And Brian Norton returned this week, racing for the first time since June 2018. He finished 13th. I saw a picture and the car is either Greg Studt’s backup car or he bought it from him.
If you missed any of the racing you can find it here: www.youtube.com/@MikeMiller28. If anyone else tapes all the races let me know and I’ll add you to the list.
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