Great Lakes Lightning Sprints
NICKLES WINS UP NORTH
Lake City, IN – On a day that started out with thunderstorms traveling across Michigan and raising doubts of racing for teams traveling 2-5 hours to Merritt Speedway, it ended up a beautiful evening in Northern Michigan and the perfect setting for Jac Nickles (Harrod, OH) to land in victory lane for his second win of the season.
24 cars from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio checked in for our first of four visits to Merritt Speedway. Great Lakes Lightning Sprints presented by Maxima Racing Oils would be the first class to hit the track for the evening. This was the first time any of our drivers would hit this track since it has been modified and slightly reconfigured.
When qualifying was over, Nickles sat on top of the leader board with a quick time of a 13.71 second lap, giving him an average speed around the 3/8ths mile track of 98.47 mph. Justin Davis, traveling 8 hours from Spencer, IN picked up the second quick time of 14.06 or an average speed of 96.01 mph. Brendon Cascadden (Traverse City, MI), Thomas Parker (Wayland, MI) and Lindsey Erickson (South Boardman, MI) rounded out the top 5 qualifiers.
Rolling out for the Engler Machine & Tool Heat Race 1, Nickles works his way up from 4th to take the checkered flag and heat race win. Matt Cogley (Findlay, OH) took second and locked himself into a redraw positon. Lindsey Erickson rounded out the podium, following Cogley across the finish line.
Starting on the pole of the Cheney Creek Construction Heat 2, Shelby Yeaples (Coldwater, MI) led the field around to the flagstand. With a clean start, Justin Davis (starting 4th) crossed over down the front stretch and caught the left rear tire of Jerimiah Roberts in the 2A car, quickly bringing out the red flag as Davis came to rest in the bottom of turn 4 upside down. After the restart, Mack Erickson quickly moved up and took the lead and grabbed the win with Yeaples finishing in 2nd grabbing a redraw spot. Paul Erickson (South Boardman, MI) rounded out the top 3.
In the Beacon & Bridge Markets Heat 3, Cascadden started 4th, but made it around to take the checkered flag and the win. Bill Dunham in the blue 84 car secured 2nd and a redraw spot, while Chuck Erickson (South Boardman, MI) rounded out the top 3.
Starting on the outside of the front row in the Environmental Waste & Recovery Service Heat 4, Ryan Lanphierd (Midland, MI) got a clean start and led from green flag to the checkered flag. Thomas Parker secured the last redraw spot and finished 2nd with Bud Schrader (Benzonia, MI) rounding out the podium and finishing 3rd. On a special note, Ryan Lanphierd is a late model driver that jumped in a lightning sprint for the first time tonight!
With the heats over and the redraw done, the Maxima Racing Oils Feature is set, with Thomas Parker and Shelby Yeaples on the front row to lead the 23 car field around to the green flag! As the green flag dropped, the cars came to life and the cars on the track looked like a swarm of bees after someone hit the side of a bee hive with a stick!
23 cars diving and dodging for clean air for their wings and to get a feel for the track while trying to move forward. Completing the first lap Parker was still leading the field but Jac Nickles still had something to say about that. The leaders quickly encountered lap traffic around lap 5 and the true driving skills of these nimble cars came out. Nickles smoothly worked his way through the field and kept his lead once he overtook Parker.
Brendon Cascadden had worked his way to 2nd, following Nickles thru lapped traffic and doing a good job not getting picked behind slower cars and keeping the leader in his sights. As the laps clicked down with 3 to go, all the cars were able to move at will all over the track making for exciting 3 and 4 wide racing. Then only 45 seconds from the checkered flag and racing for 4th, Bill Dunham (Bellevue, MI) got pinched and ran out of real estate coming out of turn 4, getting sideways and driving hard into the front stretch wall, instantly bringing out the red flag. Bill’s forearm and knees were sore, but he was alright and the emergency crews quickly extracted his car from the guard rail and wall and the fans were treated to a quick 3 lap dash for the finish.
With clean air and a wide open track ahead of him, Nickles maintained his lead and went on to take the checkered flag with his second win of the season. Cascadden, Mack Erickson, Parker and Lanphierd rounded out the top 5 finishers.
A visiting Jeremiah Roberts, jumped into his dad’s 2A car (Johnny Roberts) to help try to figure out the gremlins that plaqued Johnny the week before. Still fighting something in the heat race, Jeremiah started 23rd in the feature and put on a show of his own from the tail. Roberts earned the well deserved Hoosier Hard Charger for the night moving up 15 spots to finish 8th in the feature! Following Roberts up the field was Rusty Havens (Traverse City, MI). Havens, who is nearly 72 years old, drove through the field passing 13 cars and finishing 9th for a great run! Another honorable mention is Alex Cogley (Findlay, OH) driving the 18C car, started 18th after trouble in the heats and drove up 12 spots to a 6th place finish!
Next week all Great Lakes Sprints groups will be off and the Lightning Sprints will be back in action on July 2nd at Mt Pleasant and then travel to Thunderbird Raceway on July 3rd for our only visit there this year.
To stay up to date on current events and pictures, be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@GLSprints). For a complete 2021 schedule with results and our points standings, go to our website at www.greatlakessprints.com. A special thank you to our sponsors that make all this possible: Maxima Racing Oils, Engler Machine & Tool, Cheney Creek Construction, Beacon & Bridge Markets, Specialty Fuels & Logistics, Environmental Waste & Recovery Service and Hoosier Racing Tires.
Article Credit: Barry M. Marlow
Submitted By: Barry Marlow