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I-96 Speedway Crowns Four 2012 Track Champions At The 5th Annual Dirt Gold Cup

I-96 Speedway, located west of Lansing and east of Grand Rapids in Lake Odessa, Michigan hosted the 5th annual Dirt Gold Cup Championship Extravaganza / 2012 Season Championships for ALL FOUR weekly divisions within the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) DIRTcar Racing Series! It was also Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club Night as well as the 4th annual Relay for Life Celebration which benefitted the American Cancer Society.

The 2012 Track Champions as well as the 2012 Rookies of the Year were crowned in the Miller Lite UMP Super Late Models, Accurate Engines UMP Modifieds, Rudd’s Septic Service UMP Street Stocks, and Smyrna Bar & Restaurant UMP Sport Compacts as the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile high-banked dirt oval was action packed night throughout the night and the great crowd on hand was treated to a great night of racing.

Congratulations to the 2012 Track Champions at I-96 Speedway and they are: m14 Brandon Thirlby – Traverse City, Michigan – Miller Lite UMP Super Late Models —- 0x Zack Olger – St. Johns, Michigan – Accurate Engines UMP Modifieds —- 44 Josh Frye – Coopersville, Michigan – Rudd’s Septic Service UMP Street Stocks —- 14 Rick Peck – Hastings, Michigan – Smyrna Bar & Restaurant UMP Sport Compacts.

In addition, the 2012 Rookies of the Year were also honored and they were: 5 Brook Brasington – Evart, Michigan – Miller Lite UMP Super Late Models —- 46 Dave Schmidt – Grand Haven, Michigan – Accurate Engines UMP Modifieds —- 1c Calvin Stemler – Ionia, Michigan – Rudd’s Septic Service UMP Street Stocks —- 44 Nick Jenema – Wyoming, Michigan – 18 & Over Smyrna Bar & Restaurant UMP Sport Compacts —- 11 Tony Taylor – Portland, Michigan – 17 & Under Smyrna Bar & Restaurant UMP Sport Compacts.

The first Championship to be decided would be for the Rudd’s Septic Service UMP Street Stocks as their 25-Lap Feature would see Defending Track Champion Bill Brandt Jr., and Current UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Northeastern States Points Leader Dan Dykman starting on the front row. Dykman would edge out Brandt Jr., who had another battle of his own with Current Points Leader Josh Frye for the 2012 Track Title.

Dykman paced the field for the first 21 laps before an axle broke going into turns three and four bringing out the caution flag. This gave the lead to Frye and the Coopersville, Michigan driver would make no mistake the last four laps as the driver of the #44 Driftwood Bar & Grill / Chevrolet would win his fourth Feature Win of the year and the 2012 Track Championship in the process!

Jim Beltz finished second ahead of Brandt Jr., who pitted for a flat tire and make a valiant effort before coming home third. 2009 Track Champion Aaron Wolf and 16-year-old Carlind Forsythe completed the top five. Randy Wellman finished sixth as Joel Hummel, Trey Cotter, Bill Brandt Sr., and Dykman were the final top 10. Frye, Brandt Jr., and Dykman won the Heat Races.

The Smyrna Bar & Restaurant UMP Sport Compacts were next for their 25-Lap Championship Feature as 2012 18 & Over Rookie of the Year Nick Jenema and Ryan Hamm brought the field to Chief Starter Brett Farmer’s green flag. Hamm set a torrid early pace for the first five laps before slowing on the front stretch to bring out the yellow flag. This handed the lead to Current UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Eastern States Points Leader Paul Namey who tried to check out on the field.

Defending Track Champion Rick Peck who clinched his second straight Track Championship earlier in the afternoon to go with his 2011 crown simply by pulling into the pits, challenged Namey over the remainder of the race before taking the lead with just two laps to go and from there, his #14 Frisbee & Sons Plastering / Saturn would walk away with his fifth Feature Win and Repeat as UMP Sport Compacts Track Champion!

Namey settled for second while 18-year-old Terry Henderson Jr., Chad Tomczak, and 11-year-old Christopher Joyce finished up the top five. Fellow 11-year-old driver, Tony Taylor, who earlier in the night wrapped up the 17 & Under Rookie of the Year title finished sixth while Colee Ruesink, 14-year-old Harper Hotchkiss, Jackson Walker, and Jenema were the top 10. Henderson Jr., and Namey won the Heats.

The premier division within the UMP DIRTcar Racing Series, the Miller Lite UMP Super Late Models were next for their 25-Lap Season Championship Feature as going into the night, three drivers; Brandon Thirlby, Rich Neiser, and Zack Olger were all within sight of each other for the 2012 Track Championship. Alan Vochaska and Bry Sloan led the field to the green and it would be Vochaska beating Sloan and the rest of the first to the first corner.

Within just four laps, Thirlby, Neiser, and Olger were all running together and an epic battle ensued for not only position on the track, but for the 2012 Track Championship. With just four laps to go, Vochaska collided with a lapped car which forced the field behind to take evasive action. It would be Neiser who would pass Thirlby, Vochaska, and the lapped car to take over the lead and from there the Fruitport, Michigan veteran held off Vochaska and Thirlby and steer his #87 Baker Engineering / Mastersbilt Race Cars into victory lane after winning his first Feature of the Season.

Vochaska finished second and Thirlby finished third and it would be Thirlby and Neiser sitting on top of the Final Points Standings Tied for the title. The first tie-breaker edge would go to Thirlby (Most Feature Wins: Thirlby-3 / Neiser-1) to give the Traverse City, Michigan driver in his #m14 Thirlby Automotive / Mastersbilt Racecars machine his first career Track Championship off of that all important tie-breaker. This is the first of a potential four titles for Thirlby as he also leads the UMP DIRTcar Racing Series Michigan / Wisconsin / Canada States Points, Michigan Dirt Cup Late Models Tour Points, and Cherry Raceway Track points as well.

Dab Hubbell finished fourth in the main ahead of Dale Sheehy who would complete the top five. Chris Nash, Sloan, Olger, and Randy Whitten Jr., rounded out the top 10. Thirlby and Vochaska would score the Heat Race triumphs.

The final race of the night would be the 2012 Season Championships for the Accurate Engines UMP Modifieds and although disappointed with the outcome of the UMP Super Late Models Feature, Zack Olger wouldn’t go home empty handed as the driver of the #0x Racer’s Speed Shop / Xtreme Racecars entry took the green flag in the 25-Lap Feature to Officially clinch his first Track Championship of his stellar career.

The front row of the main would be John McClure and Collin Thirlby and it was Thirlby slipped by McClure in the early going to grab the lead. A scary incident involving Mark Anderson resulted in the veteran barrel rolling several times off the backstretch. He was fine, but the car was destroyed and he was done for the night. Thirlby maintained the advantage up front for all 25 Laps as the Traverse City, Michigan standout in his #47 Thirlby Automotive / Diamond Racecars ride would score his second Feature Win of the season.

Outgoing Track Champion Jacob Poel finished second while Travis Stemler, Former Two-Time Track Champion (2008 & 2009) Todd Feutz, and McClure were the top five. 2012 Track Champion Olger was sixth in the main while Tim Stemler, Kevin Cavanaugh, 2007 Track Champion Shannon Fisk, and Justin Fleming completed the top 10. McClure, Travis Stemler, and Anderson were the Heat Race victors.

I-96 Speedway will now take an extended vacation in preparation for the 2012 Season Finale on a special Sunday afternoon, October 14th as the cars and stars of the United States Auto Club (USAC) AMSOil National Sprint Cars Series will make the return trip to West Michigan and race on the famed ½ (0.500) mile high-banked dirt oval after getting rained out back on August 10th.

Superstars like Five Time & Defending Series Champion Levi Jones as well as Indy 500 starter Bryan Clauson, Current Points Leader Jon Stanbrough, Veterans Dave Darland, Tracy Hines, and many more will make the trip north in the series’ first appearance at I-96 since 1996.

Joining the USAC AMSOil National Sprint Cars Series on the famed 1/2 mile will be the Accurate Engines UMP Modifieds as well as a “Run What You Bring” division featuring any type of car such as Limited Late Models, Pro Stocks, Pro Trucks, Street Stocks, and more (excluding Super Late Models) The Schedule of Events and Starting Times for this event are also “To Be Announced.”

Race Fans who already purchased Advance Tickets will still be able to use those in October and now there’s plenty of time to still get tickets for this event for those that haven’t at the link below: http://www.showclix.com/event/226174 and for more information about the USAC AMSOil National Sprint Cars Series, go to their website at: www.usacracing.com