Thirlby wins Sunoco ALMS August 5, Hotovy sets track record

Mt. Pleasant, Mich. — The Sunoco American Late Model Series made its second stop of the 2011 season at the Mt. Pleasant Speedway on Friday, August 5 for a $2,000 to win feature.

Although low on car count because of a conflicting race in Ohio, the field was still packed with plenty of star power as 14 of the best UMP Late Model drivers from around the Midwest made the call.

At the drop of the green in the 25-lap feature No. M14 Brandon Thirlby was on a mission to get to victory lane. The Traverse City native did not disappoint the packed crowd as he set blistering laps around the three-eighths mile clay oval. Deeper in the field there was a lot of jogging for positions as several drivers swapped spots among the top five.

When all was said and done Thirlby would get the huge payday and get his Thirlby Automotive Late Model into victory lane. Following Thirlby were Houghton Lake’s No. 6M Dona Marcoullier, ClarkLake’s No. 49 Brian Ruhlman, the defending ALMS champion, Blanchard’s No. 85 Mark Andersen, and St. Johns’ No. 18 Zack Olger rounding out the top five.

The night also got off to a blazing start as seven Late Model drivers broke the previous Mt. Pleasant Speedway Late Model track record set on May 27 this year by No. 91 Rusty Schlenk at 14.04 seconds. Those shattering the record included Olger, Epling, Marcoullier, Andersen, Thirlby, No. 23v Ryan VanderVeen, and new record-holder No. 13H J.R. Hotovy of Muskegon with a mark of 13.64 seconds.

In the Chuck’s Discount Foods UMP Modifieds defending champion No. 15 Rich Robinson Jr., sporting a new paint scheme, rocketed from a sixth starting spot to the lead at about lap 10 and from there the Xtreme Racecars owner dominated en route to the feature win over No. 75 Roy Harvey, No. 21 Steven Hilliker, No. 19 Cody Bauer and No. 4B Brian Brindley in the unofficial top five.

It was an emotional night in the Smokers Club UMP Stock Cars feature as the 18-car field was racing for a $700 top prize courtesy of Loomis Racing, Aunt T Enterprises, and family and friends as they paid tribute to the brother of racer Josh Loomis with the Lyle “Chunky” St. John Memorial. No. 10 Gary Vandermark Jr. took the low side of the track to get to the lead over No. 32 Tom Hodges, bringing No. 77B Rob Brillhart with him to second. Armed with his brother’s angel riding with him, No. 11jr Josh Loomis went to work and gave it all he had to get up to third spot. Vandermark would pull away from the rest of the field and cut through the lapped traffic like a knife through butter as he took command and would get the win over Brillhart, Josh Loomis, No. 49 Greg Tragis and No. 10ss Justin Gilland in unofficial top five.

As has been the case all year long in the NAPA Modified Minis the race came down to No. 16 Joey Burch and No. 68 Trever Fedewa. This week it was Burch’s turn to go to victory lane.

For the Mt. Pleasant and Clare Automotive Stock Minis, Little Jays Daycare in Shepherd and owners Chris and Jessica Ryan put up an added $100 to the feature winner. Working through the field early No. 15 Jeff McKenzie looked strong but ran into car trouble while leading and from there No. 62 Steve Keeler Jr. would get the win and added purse.

This Friday, Aug. 12 is an American Legion UMP Late Models Special plus a Taco Boy Stock Minis Special and a full show in UMP Modifieds, UMP Stock Cars, UMP Modified Minis. Gates open at 5 and racing 7:45 p.m.