Mt. Pleasant, Mich. — As summer winds down, the 2011 Mt. Pleasant Speedway racing season also nears a close and last Friday, Aug. 26 was the first of two consecutive weeks of Budweiser Season Championships.
Up first were championship features in the Wilson Steel Fab & Burnrite Stoves UMP Late Models, NAPA UMP Modified Mini Stocks and Mt. Pleasant and Clare Automotive Stock Minis along with a regular show in the Chuck’s Discount Foods UMP Modifieds and Smokers Club UMP Stock Cars.
Following the night’s heat races, Late Model drivers No. 0X Zack Olger and No. 85 Mark Andersen were deadlocked in a tie for the season championship points title heading into the evening’s feature event. Starting on the front row together, Olger and Andersen would both be aiming for their first career points title as the night would end with happiness for one driver and heartache for the other.
As the green flag waved to start the Late Model feature, Andersen dropped his car low and got a slim lead over. The St. Johns native then would see his dreams of a season title go up in smoke as he suffered at least his fifth blown motor of the 2011 season in the Late Model class and giving Andersen, a Blanchard native, the track title.
With Olger off the track Andersen took a big lead on the field as he attempted to put an exclamation point on his season. Making their way through the field from the ninth and 10th starting spots respectively, were No. 9R Curtis Roberts of Coleman and No. M14 Brandon Thirlby of Traverse City. Using the low groove on the track, Roberts would pull even with Andersen and by about lap 10 the “Coleman Comet” would pull away from the field and take over the top spot. From there Roberts would go on to score another main event win, followed by Thirlby, No. 52X Brad Harden, Andersen and No. 0K Mike Kresnak in the unofficial top five.
Rolling out next for their Season Championship feature were the NAPA UMP Modified Mini Stocks and as has been for the previous four months, No. 68 Trever Fedewa and No. 16 Joey Burch would start side-by-side on the front row as the two young chargers would go into the night separated by five points in the title race. Despite early contact Burch, a native of Rosebush, would go on to a Season Championship feature win and close the gap to within one point of Fedewa heading into the season finale on Sept. 2. Following Burch across the line were No. 610 Blaine Hendrick, Fedewa and No. 91 Nathan Carlon.
The Smokers Club UMP Stock Cars were next for their regular feature and No. 77B Rob Brillhart took off in front early as he looked to pad his points lead. Starting shotgun on the field in 13th-spot No. 10 Gary Vandermark Jr. would quickly pick off cars as he went to the front of the field. Pulling even with Brillhart, Vandermark could not get around Brillhart, who would go on for the Stock Cars feature win followed closely by Vandermark, No. 10ss Justin Gilland, No. 11Sr Jeff Loomis and No. D1 Ray Devericks in unofficial top five.
The Season Championship for the Stock Minis came next and with No. 15 Jeff McKenzie unable to make the call, No. 62 Steve Keeler Jr. would pad his points lead by getting the feature win over No. 52 Bob Baltierrez, No. 7 Fred Parisian, No. D7 Tasha Decker and No. 50 James Wright.
In the final race of the night, the Chuck’s Discount Foods UMP Modifieds were on the track and the front row was a flashback to the early 2000s as No. 15 Rich Robinson Jr. and No. 19 Chad Bauer made up the first two spots. Bauer, filling in for his son Cody, is a former two-time Mt. Pleasant track champion, while Robinson Jr. is a six-time champion. Aiming for his seventh track title, Robinson Jr. took the lead with Bauer next in line. From there Bauer and No. 75 Roy Harvey would battle it out for second spot, swapping spots often. A lap 21 caution set up a four-lap dash for the win, but in the end Robinson Jr. would not be denied getting another feature win in 2011, followed by Bauer, Harvey, No. 63 Collin Thirlby, the unofficial 2011 Mt. Pleasant Speedway UMP Modified Rookie of the Year and No. 20D Dan DeLong rounding out the unofficial top five.
This Friday, Sept. 2, closes out the 2011 racing season at Mt. Pleasant Speedway with the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Outlaw Late Models, Budweiser Season Championships for the UMP Modifieds and UMP Stock Cars, and regular show in NAPA UMP Modified Minis and Mt. Pleasant and Clare Automotive Stock Minis. Gates open 5 p.m. and racing at 7:45 p.m.