Rain Can't Dampen A&L Iron and Metal Race Night at UPIR
A sunny blue-sky evening set the stage for racing Saturday night at the Advanced Auto Parts Upper Peninsula International Raceway. Despite rain showers in the days prior, racing went off without a hitch at A&L Iron and Metal race night.
The early stages of the event flew by, with heat races taking just under an hour to complete for all of the tracks seven divisions. Most of the heats were contested with no major incidents, the only exception being the first Getchell Builders 600 Micro Sprint heat.
For the second time in as many weeks Robert Buttry found himself ending his heat upside down. While Buttry tumbled end over end on the opening lap in his heat last week, this week he found himself tumbling on the race’s last lap. After leading the majority of the race, Buttry slid wide out of turn two, opening the door for Matt Peterson to take the lead. In an attempt to battle back around Peterson Buttry clipped an infield tire and became sky bound. The car slammed back to the ground and tumbled on to its side. Buttry was ok, remaining in his car to steer back to the pits as track crews pushed his car. Amazingly, Buttry was able to mend any issues with the car and join the rest of the field in the feature later in the night.
Riverside Auto Group youth Micro Sprints
As usual, the first class to hit the track for feature racing was the Riverside Auto Group Youth Micro Sprints. Last week, Ethan Manninen won the Youth Micro Sprint Feature by a margin of two laps over the entire field. The question heading into this week would be: Do any of the other kids have a shot at Manninen? Karl Warm answered that question with a defiant yes early in the night, winning the division’s heat race.
The opening laps of the Youth Micro Sprint feature would pick up right where the heat finished for Karl Warm, with him out front. Warm and Manninen were able to separate themselves from the pack early in the going, dueling in the dirt for the lead of the race. As the pair began navigating lap traffic, Manninen would gain the edge and claim the top spot.
The checkered flag would fly and Ethan Manninen would win his second feature race in a row to open the 2019 UPIR racing season. Karl Warm followed in second with Brody Steinhauer in third. Manninen’s victory will extend his points lead over second place Karl Warm.
Sportsman Micro Sprints
In the Sportsman Micro Sprint Division clean and quick would be the theme for both the heat and feature race. Jeffrey Latsch, Brett Labre, and Brennan Swanson crossed the line in that order at the end of the heat. However, one driver did not take to the track for the Sportsman heat, points leader Drake Degnan. Last week’s feature winner seemingly ran into some mechanical issues as the Sportsman field took to the track for the heat race. He would take part in the feature later in the night.
Unfortunately for Degnan, the feature would end the same way he spent his heat, in the pits. Joining him there by the end of the feature would be Brett Labre who also had issues with his car. Coming into the night, Degnan and Labre were first and second in the points standings. The driver in second, Brennan Swanson, would capitalize on the situation with another strong run this week to take the points lead. Prior to the night’s racing, Brennan discussed how much emphasis he was putting on consistency this year.
“We’re looking for points this year,” Swanson said, “If I’m in a tight spot, I’d rather take the points.”
Thus far, the rookie driver has done a great job sticking to his plan. In week one he finished in second. This week he would finish third.
The drivers finishing in front of Swanson, in order, were Trevor Denome and Jeffey Latsch. Last week Denome and Latsch tangled with each other in turn four. Their respective finishes are both a great recovery from last week’s incident.
While Brennan Swanson takes the points lead, it is a three way tie for second position between Drake Degnan, Jeffrey Latsch, and Trevor Denome. Brett Labre is only three points back from that battle. A total of six points separate the five drivers.
Getchell Builders 600 Micro Sprints
Only one major incident slowed action in the feature races and, once again, it took place in the 600 Micro Sprint division. After 15 laps had been put in the books by leader Kyle Getchell and second place Denver Larsen a two car incident happened right in front of them. Logan Getzloff and Jered Cech spun in unison at the exit of the second turn. As the two came to rest, Getchell made an evasive move, just slipping past the stricken pair of drivers. Larsen, however, wasn’t as lucky.
Running a slightly higher line than Getchell, Larsen was apparently unsighted by the lead car. By the time he could see the Getzloff and Cech cars, he had no where to go. Larsen pitched the car sideways in a last ditch attempt to avoid being collected in the scrap but to no avail. Larsen slammed into the stationary cars and came to a grinding halt. All three drivers were uninjured, though their cars were not. If Denver and Dylan Larsen didn’t have bad luck at UPIR, it seems they wouldn’t have any luck at all.
When racing resumed with a only a handful of laps remaining, it was Kyle Getchell reclaiming the lead. The checkered flag flew and Kyle Getchell claimed the victory this week. Points leader, Matt Peterson finished in second, extending his points lead over Dylan Larsen. Dylan would finish in third, a welcome break for one of the Larsens.
An interesting note about the top three finishers is their starting positions. All of them started out side of the top five, Getchell in sixth, Peterson in tenth, and Larsen in eighth.
U.P. Vintage Modifieds
Last week, Scott Degnan finished the Vintage Modified Feature watching from the pits. This week he finished it in victory lane. Once the race began, there was no looking back for Degnan. He carved his way through lapped traffic, keeping his nose clean all the while, in route to his first win of the 2019 season.
While Degnan stepped away to victory, the battles raged on behind him. In second place it was Charles Peteron holding off Herb Iverson for the second week in a row in the same positions. Behind them in fourth was Nick Pinar, putting forth a strong effort in his first appearance at UPIR this year.
Charles Peterson holds onto the points lead while Herb Iverson moves into second. Last week’s feature winner, Terry Royer, falls to third in the Standings. Scott Degnan finds himself in sixth place, 24 points back from leader Peterson.
A&L Iron and Metal Street Stocks
Battles at the front end of the field were easy to find in the A&L Iron and Metal Street Stock feature race as the race for the lead was almost constant.
Early in the running it was Eric Mathieson on the point with Paul Wagner running in second. Following Mathieson wasn’t enough for Wagner, though, and it was only a matter of time before he’d make the move to take the lead. While Wagner went to the lead, last week’s feature winner, Billy Bowden, moved into third around Corey DeGrave.
A late race caution for a stray infield tire would set up a green-white-checkered finish. On the restart, Wagner leapt back to the lead. Bowden, now up to second, was closing in quickly from behind. As the white flag flew, Wagner led Bowden into turn one. When they exited turn two, Bowden made a lunge to the inside of Wagner. At the entrance of turn three, Bowden made contact with the rear of Wagner’s car but was unable to make a move around him.
Paul Wagner would win the feature while Bowden settled for second. In third place was Eric Mathieson. Wagner’s win and Bowden’s second place mean the two are tied for first in points after week two of racing at UPIR.
Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modifieds
A triple threat showdown for the top spot was the highlight of the Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modified feature. Pole-sitter, Lonnie Dalgord, would claim the early lead. A few short laps later, Chris Pepin would come knocking. The two would exchange blows a number of times before Pepin would emerge with the lead.
Working his way to the third spot was Matt Valiquette, who started in sixth. As soon as Dalgord was finished with the Pepin battle, Valiquette was on the attack. The two drivers battled side by side for several laps, slicing through lapped traffic. Valiquette would eventually win the battle for the number two spot. Unfortunately, for Valiquette, he would not win the race.
Up front, Chris Pepin held on to the lead to win his first feature race of 2019. Matt Valiquette and Lonnie Dalgord would finish in second and third, respectively.
With his win, Chris Pepin moves into the points lead. Fran Berube, who has finished in the top five in both races this season, slots in to second with Lonnie Dalgord tied for that same spot. The three drivers are separated by 15 points following this week’s racing.
Without a doubt, the wildest race of the night was the Sport Compact feature. If there was one place a driver would want to find themselves in a race, it’d be first. That wasn’t the case for this race. In this one, whoever took the lead was cursed, it would seem.
The first driver to fall victim to the curse was Tyler Corwin. Corwin was bound for the tops spot, making the move on Alex Constantino on the outside of a lapped car on the front stretch. Heavy contact was made between Corwin and the lapped car in turn one as the slower car tried making room for Constantino on the inside. Corwin went straight for the wall but somehow regained control of his now damaged car.
While Corwin had his issues, Alex Constantino continued to lead…until he had a flat tire and had to go to the pits. Constantino’s issues handed the lead over to Corwin, but no sooner would he find himself going to the pits with issues related to the contact earlier in the race with lapped traffic.
Matt Adams found himself leading as the laps began to wind down. He had a comfortable lead, no lapped cars to deal with, and what looked to be smooth sailing to victory lane. Sure enough, the curse would claim him, too. Exiting the second turn with under five laps to go, Adams suddenly slowed. He pulled to the infield, allowing Trever Cronick to take the lead. Adams was able to rejoin in second place, where he would eventually finish.
The only leader not to have an issue was the winner, Trever Cronick, continuing a strong start to the season. Matt Adams came home in probably the worst feeling second place of his driving career, while Nathan Price finished in third.
Cronick takes over the points lead with Nathan Price 12 points back in second. In third is Tyler Corwin, 18 points back from leader Cronick.
Racing continues at the Advanced Auto Parts Upper Peninsula International Raceway next Saturday night with racing slated to begin at 6 p.m. EST. Gates open at 4 p.m. EST.
By Todd Rose
**RESULTS SUBJECT TO CHANGE UNDER FURTHER REVIEW