Thrills and Spills Open the UPIR Season at Radio Results Network Night
The green flag dropped on the 2019 Upper Peninsula International Raceway season Saturday night with the first event on its calendar sponsored by Radio Results network. By the end of the night there would be seven lucky feature winners, but no driver was luckier than Lindsey Constantino.
In her first appearance at UPIR, Constantino was involved in a horrifying accident on the opening lap of the second Sport Compacts heat race. As the field made its way into the third corner, Constantino’s car flew into the turn at full speed, side swiping the car of Tony Begovac. Costantino’s car would momentarily become airborne before slamming head on into the outside retaining wall at full speed. Lindsey was extricated from the car and transported to a local hospital by ambulance. Husband, Alex Constantino, would abandon the race from the lead to join Lindsey at the hospital.
Thankfully, Lindsey would announce to fans in a Facebook post that she was for the most part uninjured in the scary incident and had been released from the hospital before the end of the night. In the post, Constantino stated that she was, “In a TON of pain, but okay.” She went on to thank the safety workers and everyone for their get well wishes.
From all of us here at the Rose Racing Report, we send all of our best wishes to Lindsey Constantino for a speedy recovery.
Repairs to the third turn wall were required following the incident. The remaining laps of the second Sport Compacts heat were finished after intermission.
Riverside Auto Group Youth Micro Sprints
The first feature race of the night produced the night’s first double winner in Ethan Manninen. Earlier in the night Manninen won division’s heat race, a race that also saw the night of rookie driver Mason Cuggino come to an end.
While Manninen made his way to the lead in the heat, Mason Cuggino went tumbling through turn three. Although he was shaken up in the incident, Cuggino climbed out of the car under his own power and made his way back to the pits. He would not make it back out on track in time for the start of the feature race later in the night.
As previously stated, Ethan Manninen would reign victorious in the feature race, beating the rest of the field by two laps. In second place was Karl Warm with Brody Steinhauer in third. In a division all about learning, it will be interesting to watch these young drivers and future stars of UPIR grow and develop as drivers throughout the 2019 campaign.
Sportsman Micro Sprints
Unpredictability was the theme of the night for the Sportsman Micro Sprint division. Following a clean heat race, won by Drake Degnan, the Sportsman took to the track in what proved to be the night’s wildest feature race.
On the race’s second lap, Jeffrey Latsch and heat winner Drake Degnan would make contact, sending both cars out of control. Both drivers would rejoin the field and return to battle. Just a few laps would pass before Jeffrey Latsch would find himself in trouble again, this time with Trevor Denome. Prior to the incident, Latsch had been black flagged by track officials for a mechanical issue with his vehicle. It is unclear if Latsch was aware of the black flag or if the issue played a role in the ensuing incident. Denome and Latsch would end up stuck together in turn four while Drake Degnan would spin to avoid being collected in the accident.
The race restarted but the yellow flag would soon come out again for a crash involving rookie driver Gunnar Hansen. Exiting the fourth turn, Hansen drifted wide and into the outside wall. The impact sent his car upside down before coming to a rest just shy of the start/finish line. Gunnar climbed out of the car uninjured. Post-race, Hansen made note of the challenging changing track conditions which may have played a role in the incident. He also said he would be ready to race next week if the car is repaired in time.
Brett Labre jumped to the lead on the race’s final restart and led the field all the way until the back straightaway with two laps to go. As Labre made his way out of turn two his car suddenly slowed allowing Drake Degnan to scoot by and take the lead and the win one lap later. Degnan would become the second double winner of the night in as many races. Brennan Swanson, another rookie in the Sportsman field, crossed the line in second while Brett Labre settled for a third place finish.
Getchell Builders 600 Micro Sprints
The 600 Micro Sprint division sponsored by Getchell Builders would have a bit more tame of a race compared to their Sportsman counterpart. While the racing throughout the night was intense in the division it was for, the most part, incident free. The only major incident in the division for the night came in heat race number two when Robert Buttry tumbled end over end in turn one of the opening lap. He was ok but the car was not.
The feature race would only be slowed two times by cautions. The first yellow flag flew for a spin by Tony Beauchamp on the backstretch. The second incident of the race collected a few cars including Kyle Getchell, among others. For the most part, all drivers were able to continue from their respective on track incidents.
For the third race in a row, a double winner would emerge. Former track champion, Matt Peterson, would cross the line first holding of another former track champion , Josh Bartel, in second. Coming home in third place was Jordan Ives with a strong showing to start the year.
U.P. Vintage Modifieds
A rough beginning was seen in the U.P. Vintage Modified feature race as a multicar accident eliminated heat race winner, Scott Degnan, from contention. Degnan was the victim of a stack up of cars in turn three that also involved Herb Iverson. Iverson would rejoin the field while Degnan was not as fortunate, ending his night on the tow hook.
Herb Iverson would find himself looking the wrong way for the second time in the race in turn one shortly after the restart, again escaping the incident with little to no damage. Amazingly, Iverson would recover from both incidents and finish in the fifth position.
Up front it was Terry Royer taking the victory in the Vintage Modifieds, making him the fourth double winner of the night. This one, however, came with a little less drama. Earlier in the night, Royer made a bold three wide move around Allan Yelle on the final lap of their heat as they diced their way through lapped traffic.
Second place would belong to Dave Broeders while Fred Minor followed in third.
A&L Iron and Metal Street Stocks
It was the Billy Bowden show in the A&L Iron and Metal Street Stock feature race. Bowden would grab the lead early and would not let go of it the rest of the night. His night, though, wasn't without its speed bumps.
As Bowden made his way through lapped traffic, he was tagged in the rear bumper by Eric Mathieson and sent spinning into the turn one infield. Mathieson was immediately black flagged by track officials and sent to the pits. Before leaving the track, Mathieson pulled up to the driver’s window of Bowden’s backwards car.
“He apologized,” said Bowden when asked about the exchange after the race, “He was actually waiting at my trailer after the race to apologize again.”
Regardless of the intentionality of the incident, track officials deemed it unnecessary and thus the black flag was shown to Mathieson. Bowden was given his spot at the front of the field back as well.
On the restart, Bowden jumped back out to a sizable lead and, within a few laps, captured his first ever feature win. Former track champion, Paul Wagner, had a strong race finishing in second. The battle for third between Corey DeGrave and Kurt Schwalbach would fall in favor of DeGrave while Schwalbach settled for fourth.
Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modifieds
Multi-lane racing was seen in the Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modifed feature race, in large part, thanks to the changes made to the track during the offseason. In the past, the traditional way around UPIR was the very bottom of the track. That may no longer be the case.
From the pole, Mike Richer found himself in the early race lead. It wouldn’t be long, though, until Jamie Iverson and Pat Richer would be coming along on his outside to take first and second. Eventually, Chris Pepin would also make his way around Mike Richer, moving himself to third and Richer to fourth.
The twenty lap race would be slowed twice by cautions, both for Matt Maki who was making his Sport Modified debut at UPIR Saturday night. Unfortunately for Matt, if you are the cause of two cautions in a feature race, you will be black flagged and sent to the pits prematurely, as are the rules at UPIR. Aside from the two spins, Maki did hold his own for the majority of the race. As is the case with any sport, moving up a division or two always comes with its challenges and Maki seems fully prepared for them.
The race entered its late stages as Jamie Iverson held on to the lead. But Pat Richer in second wasn’t going to make things easy on Iverson. For the final several laps, Richer closed in on Iverson’s bumper, putting the pressure on Iverson. When the checkered flag flew, it just wasn’t enough.
Jamie Iverson held off Pat Richer as they came out of turn four to the finish line. Chris Pepin would follow the top two in third place after making the move on Mike Richer earlier in the race.
A reduced field of Sport compacts made its way on to the track for the final event of the evening. As stated earlier, Lindsey Constantino and Tony Begovac were involved in a frightening crash in their heat race, ending both of their nights and sending Lindsey to the hospital for evaluation. Front runner in that same heat, Alex Constantino, had left the track to be with his wife, Lindsey. Matt Adams also failed to return to the track following a second place finish in the first Sport Compact heat. The field was thinned, but the action was still hot.
Tyler Corwin, Nick Leisner, and Trever Cronick had a triple threat battle throughout the 20 lap feature race. While Corwin and Leisner battled for the top spot over the course of the races two long green flag stints, Trever Cronick watched from the wings in third.
Lap after lap, Corwin and Leisner battled door to door and bumper to bumper, neither driver giving the other an inch. While the top two had pace over the long run, Trever Cronick was quick on the restarts.
A late race caution allowed Cronick to showcase his strength on restarts as he made his way round Tyler Corwin in to second. Before Cronick could make a move on Leisner, the checkered flag would fall on the final race of the night.
Nick Leisner took the feature win, becoming the night’s fifth double winner. Trever Cronick and Tyler Corwin followed right on Leisner’s heels in second and third respectively.
The Upper Peninsula International Raceway is back in action next Saturday night with a full card of action-packed racing sponsored by A&L Iron and Metal. As always, gates open a 5 p.m. EST and racing starts at 6 p.m. EST.
By Todd Rose
**RACE RESULTS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE UNDER FURTHER REVIEW**