May 26th Summarythunderbird
Warm temperatures and sunny skies finally greeted race fans at Thunderbird Raceway, for a thrice-delayed opening day. A standing room only crowd gathered to watch the American Ethanol Late Model Tour, and four support divisions take to the newly reconfigured ⅓ mile oval.
Brandon Thirlby shattered the previous track record in qualifying, lowering the fastest quick time to 12.504 seconds, at an average speed of 95.873 miles per hour.
Ryan VanderVeen, Eric Spangler, and Steve Casebolt took home heat race victories. In the A Feature, Eric Spangler used his outside front row starting spot to rocket to the early race lead. Spangler and David Mielke soon encountered heavy lapped traffic, in which Mielke used a lapped car as a pick to take the race lead. A caution just before the halfway mark allowed the gap to close, and Eric Spangler took advantage on the restart and pulled away in the late stages to repeat his performance from a year ago, and take home the $4,000 top prize.
In the Modifieds, a spirited battle took place in the middle stages of the race between Lowell’s Gary Vandermark, and Muskegon’s Steve Fairbanks. Fairbanks made several attempts to the inside of Vandermark, who was able to power back around the outside of Fairbanks’ machine. The race was still in doubt until 2 laps to go, as Fairbanks attempted a big slide-job, but Vandermark was simply too strong and drove back around Fairbanks and pulled away to the win.
In a large field of Factory Stocks, Robbie Sternberg drove through the field, starting in 9th, and taking the lead away from early race leader, Dean Rake at the halfway mark. The 2016 class champion made it look easy in the late stages, winning by a straightaway over second place finisher, Dean Rake and third place finisher Randy Whitten.
In the Cyber Stocks, 2017 class champion Ryan Hamm picked up where he left off at Thunderbird Raceway, dominating the feature event, and wiring the field. It wasn’t without effort however, as Ryan had to pass three other cars on the first lap en route to winning, over a fading Joey Eller and Berry Medendorp.
In the Warriors, emotions ran high for outside pole sitter, Mike Goodwin Jr. With his father, Mike Goodwin Sr., the former Winston Speedway promoter, in Hospice care, Mike Jr. was not to be denied, as he fended off a strong list of contenders. Pole sitter, Brian Bussing was the first to mount a challenge, and was dispatched with relative ease. Gary Bussing was the most challenging contender, as both drivers made contact three times over one lap racing for the lead. Gary Bussing fell off with a flat rear tire, and 2017 Rookie of the Year, Matthew Sprague took the lead after the melee. Goodwin was not to be denied as he passed Sprague with 4 to go, and pulled away for the win. After the race, Goodwin said, “I’m done, this is it. It’s not the same without my Dad in turn 4 cheering me on.”
Next up on the Thunderbird Raceway schedule, The Midwest Compact Touring Series presented by Rev-X Oil comes to the Muskegon dirt track for it’s only dirt event on the schedule for a 50-lap feature. Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks, Factory Stocks, and Mini Wedges are in points racing action this week. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and over, $5 for kids aged 5 to 11, and kids 4 and under are free. For more details on this week’s events, or other events on the Thunderbird Raceway schedule, go to www.thunderbirdracewaymi.com for more details.