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Spectacular return of Sprints to Springport


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Spectacular return of Sprints to Springport

Postby Carl Smith » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:00 am

Sprints Return to Springport

It was still the 20th century when full blown Sprint cars last graced the high banks of Springport Motor Speedway with their giant pavement pounding tires and screaming powerplants. Saturday Night June 9th, Springport Motor Speedway was very pleased to present Open Wheel Extreme, with the return of Sprint Cars to the Port, along with Michigan's best weekly field of Modifieds and the always popular Turbo Blue Michigan Legends and Midwest Classic Racers Dwarf Series.

SPRINGPORT, MI (June 13th, 2011) - FIt was still the 20th century when full blown Sprint cars last graced the high banks of Springport Motor Speedway with their giant pavement pounding tires and screaming powerplants. Saturday Night June 9th, Springport Motor Speedway was very pleased to present Open Wheel Extreme, with the return of Sprint Cars to the Port, along with Michigan's best weekly field of Modifieds and the always popular Turbo Blue Michigan Legends and Midwest Classic Racers Dwarf Series.

Feature win trophies were presented by Hungry Howies of West Michigan. Kevin Hershock is the franchise owner of the Albion, Marshall, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo locations and is also the title sponsor of the Hungry Howies Modified Division. Taking the checkered flag this evening and the Hungry Howies Feature Win trophies were : Wingless Sprints – No. 71 Steve Smith of Jackson; Hungry Howie Modifieds – No. 61 Brad Springer of Hudson, IN; Turbo Blue Michigan Legends – No. 17 John Turnbell Jr of Howell; and MCR Dwarfs – No. 911 Rob Roney of Holly.

Saturday was a picture perfect race day, with a bright sun and warm temperatures leading to a good turn out of fans and competitors. Qualifying started promptly at 5pm and early arrivers were treated to the fastest laps turned at Springport Motor Speedway so far in 2012. Jackson's Steve Smith, piloting the No. 71, would traverse the circuit in Wingless Sprint track record of 14.464 seconds and the fastest officially timed lap of 2012. The fast time also earned Smith an extra $100 from Jim Coffey Heating and Plumbing, who posted a $100 award for fast time. Dan Loughan would top the speed board for the Hungry Howie Modifieds, second time in 2012 that the Governor has posted best lap, clocking in at 15.864 seconds. The MCR Dwarf Series also sent a load statement, with the small cars posting some impressively small lap times, the No. 911 of Rob Roney with the smallest of them all at 15.862. The Turbo Blue Michigan Legends would hold a special qualifying session with the intent to set a new track record and John Turnbell Jr would do just that, posting a best lap of 17.250 and new track record for the Legend cars.

Speedway Entertainment Group then held a special recognition presentation along the front stretch with every Springport Motor Speedway driver in the house joining them as they acknowledged and congratulated Russ Densmore on this induction into the Michigan Motorsports Hall-of-Fame. A true lifetime achievement award, Russ has been a great ambassador and servant to the Michigan Motorsports community and we heartily congratulate him on this great honor.

The Hungry Howie Modifieds were this week's Darb's Dash for Dinner participants, and all four fast qualifiers pulled their belts tight and guided their machines to the front stretch to dash for dinner. Dan Loughan, Chance Rice, Justin Kazmar and Steve Dolphiin brought their machines past the front stretch crowd 2x2 as head flagman Tim Beebe dropped the green flag and off they went for four breath taking laps. Starting on the pole, the challenge was going to be getting around Dolphin when only .136 seconds separated the four cars and the Battle Creek driver would prove too tough to pass in just four laps as the 20 year old lead from start to finish and earned a trip to Darb's Patio in Eaton Rapids to enjoy pizza at Darbs.

Before the feature races, the first of two track autograph nights was held. This evening featured the Sprint and Modified drivers, joined by the Turbo Blue Michigan Legends and Midwest Classic Racers Dwarf Series. Hundreds of race fans streamed down onto the pavement to shake hands with these incredibly dedicated racers, touch their race machines, exchange stories and get to know the men and women who make short track racing possible each and every Saturday Night at Springport Motor Speedway. Autograph Night for the Outlaw Super Late Models, ABC Stock Car divisions and the Sport Stocks will occur on August 4th.

The Wingless Sprints were the first feature of the evening, with a dice roll of nine nearly inverting the whole field and placing the No. 3a of Mike Astrauskas on the pole and along side him the No. 37 of Gary Sherman. Going into turn one on the first lap, Ryan Litt would attempt to sneak under Astrauskas and bring out the only caution of the 25 lap feature as he wouldn't find the grip necessary to complete the move and loop it harmlessly into the infield. Gary Sherman in the No. 37 1-800-Hansons car would lead the first lap and then set the pace for the next several laps as the former ARCA racer from nearby Holt found the Springport high banks much to his liking. Doug Dietsch in the No. 0 Sprinter would give chase for several laps before giving way to Jackson's Stevie Smith, as the fast qualifier made his way up through the field and on lap 12 would give a slight tap to the rear bumper of Sherman going into turns 3 and 4 and power underneath down the front stretch to take over the lead. The Canadian Ryan Litt in his bright blue No. 42 and 20 year old from North Carolina Hayden Reeves would give chase but wouldn't find the speed necessary to catch Smith as the former Springport Modified Champion would earn his first ever Sprint Car feature win. Mike Astrauskas and Ryan Litt picked up the heat race wins.

In addition to the feature winning trophy that Stevie received courtesy of Hungry Howies, he also earned a visit from the lovely ladies of Hooter's of Lansing. Each and every Saturday Night, Springport Motor Speedway spices up the evening with a pair of authentic Hooters girls who present the feature trophies and also remind the driver that he or she has just picked up twenty free wings from Hooters. Every feature winner at Springport Motor Speedway gets 20 free wings at our monthly car show and if they bring their car, they get 50 free wings. Its a great deal and gives our race winners an extra $20 in value when they bring home the win. The next Hooters Lansing Car Show is scheduled for this Wednesday, June 13th.

The Hungry Howie Modifieds would take the track next. Starting the race on the pole would be the red and yellow No. 5 of Bobby Heyink. Bobby was back at the Port after a tough weekend 7 days previous when mechanical woes would result in a dns for the Eaton Rapids driver. Beside him the No. 61 of Brad Springer, who was doing a personal double-header weekend, with his Outlaw Super in the hauler prepared for the DTS Sunday All-Star event occurring at Springport the following day. The invert put fast qualifier Dan Loughan five rows back and the fast qualifiers knew they'd have a real battle on their hands to get forward in time to challenge for a win. Springer would get a healthy jump on Heyink at the drop of the green and speed into turn one in the high side groove and in the lead. It would be the only lead change of the race, but fans still saw a lot of great racing action as the top qualifiers clawed their way up through the field. On lap 16, they got a much needed yellow as the No. 45 of Jim Kennedy and the No. 78 of Dominique VanWieringen would both fiend their way into the infield and bunching the field with just 14 laps left to race. Four-time track champion Earl Miles would find himself on Springer's rear bumper with last week's runner up Chris Ozanich on his right hand side. The savvy Indiana native would utilize his years of experience to get into the gas just a bit earlier then the field was prepared and spring out to the lead. Springer would build a several car length lead when the caution would come out for the 3rd and final time for a VanWieringen spin. It was the first ever Hungry Howie Modified start for the young Canadian driver who is a regular front runner in the Outlaw Super Late Models. With 8 laps remaining, Springer would again jump to the lead on the re-start and in start-to-finish fashion pick up the checkered flag. Following Springer across the finish line would be Chris Ozanich, Earl Miles, Nyle Wieler and Walt Obrinske Jr.

The feature win earned Springer not only a feature win trophy from Hungry Howies, and a visit from the ladies of Hooters and their twenty free wings from Hooters of Lansing, but also a Howie Nowie Pizza. Hungry Howies of West Michigan gives every feature winner at Springport Motor Speedway a contingency coupon for a free Howie Nowie pizza from any of the West Michigan Hungry Howie locations. We appreciate local businesses that support local short track racing and we ask our racers, their crews, our fans and supporters to remember that next time your ordering a pizza for your family.

As the Open Wheel Extreme event moved foward, the third open wheel feature event would take to the track as the Midwest Classic Racers Dwarf Series would take to the track in the first of four visits to the high banks of Springport Motor Speedway. Their first race date back on May 12th was rained out, so this was the first feature event of 2012 for the MCR Dwarf Cars. Springport Motor Speedway holds a special distinction among the MCR drivers, their self described "home track", these dedicated racers not only race for a season championship, but also a special Springport championship which culminates at the Michigan Cup in September. Springport Motor Speedway thanks MCR founder Steve Martin for making this special track championship available to the MCR teams and the fans of dwarf car racing at the Port. This was also a special event for the Midwest Classic Racers as this was their first event following the passing of Mrs. Earleen "Mom" Ayers. The unquestioned #1 fan of the MCR Dwarf series and the mother of MCR drivers Dane, Mark, Kevin and Rick; the entire racing community mourned her passing and appreciated the racers heart as the Dwarf drivers put on a great show while racing with a heavy heart. The dwarf cars would invert 11 cars, putting fast qualifier Rob Roney's No. 911 car six rows back as the green flag dropped. Pole sitter No. 24 Eric Hawk Jr. and No. 88 Roger Balcom would lead the pack to the green, with Hawk getting the edge going into turn one and pulling out to the early lead. Hawk would give way to No. 19 Joe McManman, but that lead would be short lived as teammate and son No. 16 Joe McManman Jr would slip by pops in turn 3 and lead the next several laps. With nine laps to go the No. 97x of Eric Hoffman would finally get under McManman and take over the lead with fast qualifier and defending series champion Rob Roney right on his rear bumper. The No. 911 car would make challenge after challenge on the outside, with Hoffman defending the low line and the lead each time. Finally with six laps go to, Roney would find the speed needed to power past Hoffman on the outside down the back straightaway to take over the lead and earn a trip to victory lane. Second was Hoffman, third No. 00 Josh Tinker, fourth No. 07 Stephen Bobek and No. 29 of Jon Wylie rounded out the Top Five.

The final feature of the evening would highlight the Turbo Blue Michigan Legends, as 13 closely matched cars would square off for 20 laps of feature racing. The No. 92 of Tony Monge would lead the Legends cars out of turn four and for the first several laps . On lap 3, the first (and only) caution of the feature would come out when the No. 71 of Gary Joppich would get helped around by the No. 9 of Guy Fire and get collected by the No. 3 of Loren Short. Short and Joppich would head into the pits with Joppich able to return but Short done for the night. On the restart, again it would be Monge leading the charge, with Turnbell Jr and Ohio driver Brian Knuckles in the No. 59 in hot pursuit. On lap 7, it would be the No. 12 of John Turnbell Jr taking over the lead, a lead he would not relinquish as the determined Legends driver hold off a late race charge by Monge to pick up his third win a row for the Legends series. Nuckles, No. 13m of Sean McPherson, No. 8 of Matt Todd and Monge made up the balance of the Top Five.

Following the race, the tower crew determined that John Turnbell Jr's fence climbing Spider Man move following the win was the T&N Dairy Kreme "Smooth Move of the Race". The "Smooth Move of the Race" awards one skilled driver a free large cone from T&N Dairy Kreme in Springport. T&N Dairy Kreme owners Nancy and Corby Howk are long time supporters of short track racing and we appreciate their support at Springport Motor Speedway. We hope to see photos of JT eating his "big cone" soon.
This Saturday Night, June 16th, the ARCA/CRA Super Series will make their first ever appearance at Springport Motor Speedway as the Central Michigan Ford-Kenworth 125 hits the high banks of Michigan's fastest 3/8th mile track. Joining the template bodied Super Late Models will be Springport's ABC Stock Cars for an incredible evening of short track racing. Joining the ARCA/CRA Super Series regulars will be NASCAR regular Kenny Schrader. Fans will also be treated to a pre-race, on-track autograph session where they can meet and greet the stars of the ARCA/CRA Super Series including Ken Schrader, Ross Kenseth, Kenzie Ruston, Becca Kasten, Johnny VanDoorn and Erik Jones. Tickets for this special event are just $15 and racing starts promptly at 7pm.

About Springport Motor Speedway : Springport Motor Speedway is a modern stock car racing facility located at 23849 30 Mile Road in Springport, Michigan; SMS is planning twenty-five event weekly short track racing events on Saturday evenings commencing on May 5th, 2012 and ending on September 30th, 2012, with an additional 6 to 8 special Sunday event schedule including high profile short track racing and non-traditional motorsports events. Springport Motor Speedway is a featured facility for Outlaw Super Late Model and Wingless Sprint Cars. Learn more about Springport Motor Speedway at: or @RaceSpringport on Twitter.
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Carl Smith
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