By Greg Hildebrand
Plymouth—After the all the hard racing fans witnessed Saturday night, having the Labor Day Weekend off is something of a needed break. The four divisions that battled on the clay were on their game and the points races show it.
The 600 non-wing mini-sprints had a season first-time winner when Ed Cleveland was able to hold off Chad Hartzell for the win. Cleveland started on the pole with Hartzell right behind him in the third spot and from the drop of the green these two lead the way.
This feature really was action packed from the front to the back and at times watching the three races going on all at the same time was thrilling but hard to do. Hartzell ran in Cleveland’s tracks the entire race trying a couple times to get out and around but also trying to pressure Cleveland into a mistake that never came.
The race for third was much the same with Tyler Chalk about four to five car lengths back of Hartzell but Hard Charger of the race Jacob Ruppe raced his way forward from the 12th spot to battle on Chalk’s bumper for much of the feature.
And while these two races were going on lap after lap for first and third there was a gaggle of cars swapping positions running two and sometimes three wide fighting for fifth on back. The action in this pack just looked like at anywhere on the track several cars were going to get together and send someone tumbling. Thankfully if didn’t happen, although at the checkered flag Kevin Hapner and Bruce Clay got together in turn four losing all the positions they had fought so hard for.
The points race is still tight for the 600s and with only two nights of racing left and 190 points available five racers are still mathematically in the hunt for the championship. Hartzell leads, Cleveland is only 42 points out, Cody Williams is 67 out, Jacob Ruppe is still alive only 90 points out of first and Bruce Clay with only 9 feature appearances compared to the others 11 is only 119 points out.
The UMP Modifieds also had a new name on the top step. Jeffery Erickson Jr. made the haul from Muskegan, Mich. to finish first with Hard Charger, and the current hot shoe of the division Bradley Jameson finishing second. Frank Marshall made the cushion work for a third place finish and assumes the points lead by 133 points over Derek Losh.
Erickson started in the second row behind Cameron Head the pole setter. In only his second feature this season at the Playground of Power, Erickson found the lead in short order and would maintain a couple car lengths over Jameson. Jameson has been on something of a surge of late, picking up a win and several top fives. Currently he is in forth place in the points behind Lafayette’s Matt Mitchell but at 215 points out of first he just misses being alive in the championship points.
The Super Sports put on their usual exciting fender to fender feature with 17 cars starting the feature. Kody Conner would start on the pole with Calvin Peek Jr. along side and David Fritz and Ron Wilkes one row back. Wilkes would find his way to the front with Conner on his tail and the two of them were able to get away by a couple car lengths over David Short, who started fifth. Fritz would have car trouble and dropped out. The next four cars were all running almost identical times in the bottom grove and were stacked up nose to tail for the bulk of the feature. Peek lead John Rhoads, who was followed closely by Chris Tippit. Tippit had Shaun Wiltjer on his rear bumper trying to move forward. After a yellow around the half way point Tippit looked to move up to get around Rhoads, Wiltjer didn’t hesitate to move up and they raced side by side until Rhoads slipped up leaving almost enough room for Wiltjer low, and Wiltjer made it work getting past Rhoads and Tippit without room for a playing card between any of them. Rhoads lost some momentum allowing Tippit to take the spot and that is how they finished Peek 4th, Wiltjer 5th, Tippit 6th and Rhoads 7th. This battle allowed the front three to race amongst themselves with Wilkes getting to the line first, Conner close behind and Short grabbing the third spot.
With two more races for this group Wilkes is leading by 67 over Peek and Rhoads is in third 166 points out of the championship. All three of these competitors have 10 feature starts with forth place Conner only starting 8, this points race much like most season points races has been about consistancy. Wilkes only has two wins on the season, several other drivers also have two but Peek and Rhoads have yet to get a checkered flag.
The CSR Sprints point race will come down to the final race of the season. The next time this division takes the green will be on championship night. Eli Lakin holds a slim 27 point margin over John Gurley, and only a 40 point lead on Eric Saunders. Saunders with only 9 feature starts, compared to the others 11, has six wins which has him close to a season championship after getting a late start on the season.
Saunders picked up one of those wins Saturday coming from the second row starting spot of fourth moving up three spots makes him the Hard Charger also. Gurley would finish second, with Lakin in third after what seemed like a disastrous start dropping from the second spot back to fifth. After such a dominating win in his heat Lakin looked to have missed the set up for the feature but he gathered it in and came charging back to finish third. Gunkel would start on the pole but would expire early. Mottville, Michigan’s Charlie Miller would make his sprint car debut finishing fifth in the feature from his fifth place starting spot.
The speedway will be quiet during the Labor Day Weekend with the Marshall County Blueberry Festival keeping Plymouth busy.
Saturday, Sept. 7, the action will pick back up with UMP Modifieds, 600s and both Super Streets and Thunder Stocks on the track. Adult tickets are $13, kids 6-12 just $5 and all race fans 5 and under are free.
Gates open at 4 p.m., Hot Laps at 6 p.m. and the green flag will drop for racing at 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 is Season Championship night with all five divisions in action and the points races on the line. Don’t miss this night as some will be points racing while others will be just racing for the win. Often when these two different motives come together on the track anything can happen.
The track doesn’t shut down after the championship night, some might say the best racing of the year will be getting started. Sept. 21 is the Fall Wing Fling with the winged 410 sprints of Sprints on Dirt racing heads up against the winged 360 sprints of the Great Lakes Super Sprints. Both touring series drivers on the track at the same time. The non-wing 600 mini-sprints, with no points on the line, will also be racing and the front wheel drive cars will make a return appearance.
“But wait that’s not all!”
No knife sets on sale here, but Sept. 27 and 28 the American Ethanol Late Model Tour makes a stop in Plymouth for a special two day show. Friday will be two separate $2,500 to win 25 lap qualifiers. Saturday will be a $12,000 to win 50 lap main event. The top 4 overall in points from Friday will lock into the Saturday A main. This event will be attracting drivers from all points for a chance to win the big check.
October 12 and 13 the AMA Vintage Flat Track racers will finish up their season in a first time visit to Plymouth Speedway. These racers will be looking to capture a season championship racing machines from all eras in different classes. Don’t miss a chance to see America’s first extreme sport up close. The riders are leather clad, with a helmet and a steel shoe on their left foot out there for everyone to see. No fenders, no roll cage and no six point harness, you will see the riders controlling the bike, pinning the accelerator back and sliding around the dirt surface on the edge of control. If you haven’t witnessed flat track motorcycle racing this is the opportunity to witness modern day gladiators in action. You don’t want to hear about the thrilling show at the water cooler on Monday, plan to be there in person.
8/24/2019 at Plymouth Speedway
600cc Non Winged Micros
A Feature 1: 1. 45-Ed Cleveland, 09:42.872; 2. 57-Chad Hartzell, 09:43.028; 3. 07-Tyler Chalk, 09:44.165; 4. 12-Jacob Ruppe, 09:44.601; 5. 38-Billy Briscoe, 09:47.594; 6. 0-Keith Ousley, 09:48.912; 7. 11H-Abby Hohlbein, 09:49.479; 8. 26-Cody Williams, 09:50.403; 9. 29-Kayla Cleveland, 09:53.759; 10. 88-Brian Kunze, 09:54.551; 11. 23H-Kevin Hapner, 10:14.365; 12. 4-Bruce Clay, 10:38.756; 13. 49-J.J. Billisitz, 09:44.735
Heat 1: 1. 38-Billy Briscoe, 03:37.614; 2. 07-Tyler Chalk, 03:37.683; 3. 57-Chad Hartzell, 03:37.838; 4. 4-Bruce Clay, 03:38.254; 5. 26-Cody Williams, 03:39.226; 6. 11H-Abby Hohlbein, 02:58.097; 7. 23H-Kevin Hapner, 00:17.873
Heat 2: 1. 45-Ed Cleveland, 06:37.516; 2. 0-Keith Ousley, 06:38.635; 3. 29-Kayla Cleveland, 06:39.863; 4. 88-Brian Kunze, 06:40.448; 5. 49-J.J. Billisitz, 07:00.647; 6. 12-Jacob Ruppe, 02:53.658
A Feature 1: 1. 19-Ron Wilkes, 12:34.135; 2. 12-Kody Conner, 12:34.855; 3. 15S-David Short, 12:35.944; 4. 88-Calvin Peek Jr, 12:38.226; 5. 1-Shaun Wiltjer, 12:39.410; 6. 14T-Chris Tippit, 12:40.407; 7. 20X-John Rhoads, 12:40.519; 8. 91-Shane Pendleton, 12:42.325; 9. 5-Brandon Williams, 12:48.946; 10. 1T-Tommy Sutton, 12:49.540; 11. 00-Jeremy Baldwin, 12:50.925; 12. 111-Kirby Trent, 12:34.759; 13. 31-Matthew Lambrecht, 12:10.410; 14. 44-David Fritz, 11:04.023; 15. 22K-Bobby Keller, 04:01.937; 16. 74-Ryan Smurdon, 04:03.243; 17. 2-Andrew Short, 01:57.878
Heat 1: 1. 15S-David Short, 02:42.132; 2. 19-Ron Wilkes, 02:43.639; 3. 20X-John Rhoads, 02:44.706; 4. 91-Shane Pendleton, 02:45.581; 5. 5-Brandon Williams, 02:46.536; 6. 111-Kirby Trent, 02:53.155; 7. 00-Jeremy Baldwin, 01:13.101
Heat 2: 1. 44-David Fritz, 08:10.686; 2. 31-Matthew Lambrecht, 08:12.729; 3. 1T-Tommy Sutton, 08:15.654; 4. 2-Andrew Short, 02:11.767; 5. 74-Ryan Smurdon, 
Heat 3: 1. 12-Kody Conner, 02:11.203; 2. 88-Calvin Peek Jr, 02:13.962; 3. 14T-Chris Tippit, 02:14.579; 4. 1-Shaun Wiltjer, 02:16.120; 5. 51-Jason Fritz, 01:33.503; 6. 22K-Bobby Keller, 01:33.503
A Feature 1: 1. 1E-Jeffery Erickson Jr, 15:40.592; 2. 10-Bradley Jameson, 15:42.218; 3. 28M-Frank Marshall, 15:44.013; 4. 17T-Michael Tarlton, 15:45.465; 5. 11H-Mike Hohlbein, 15:46.813; 6. 2M-Matt Mitchell, 15:47.322; 7. 0-Garrett Jameson, 15:49.159; 8. 00-Cameron Head, 15:49.812; 9. 1W-Jesse Bitterling, 15:51.032; 10. J7-Joey Iliff, 15:40.518; 11. 11-Roger Cavness, 15:41.264; 12. 44-Andy Sherley, 15:42.482; 13. 14-Mark Shook, 15:44.255; 14. 21-Kenny Carlson, 15:47.165; 15. 5F-Scott Fitzpatrick, 15:47.667; 16. 24M-Mike Miller, 15:45.955; 17. 25M-Brian Mcfeeters, 15:59.728
Heat 1: 1. 11H-Mike Hohlbein, 02:34.401; 2. 17T-Michael Tarlton, 02:35.823; 3. 0-Garrett Jameson, 02:36.063; 4. 21-Kenny Carlson, 02:37.612; 5. 5F-Scott Fitzpatrick, 02:42.197; 6. 25M-Brian Mcfeeters, 02:46.688
Heat 2: 1. 28M-Frank Marshall, 02:39.883; 2. 00-Cameron Head, 02:41.000; 3. 1W-Jesse Bitterling, 02:43.237; 4. 11-Roger Cavness, 02:43.496; 5. 44-Andy Sherley, 02:43.611
Heat 3: 1. 1E-Jeffery Erickson Jr, 02:32.202; 2. 10-Bradley Jameson, 02:32.807; 3. 2M-Matt Mitchell, 02:34.974; 4. J7-Joey Iliff, 02:36.503; 5. 14-Mark Shook, 02:36.772; 6. 24M-Mike Miller, 00:58.162
Winged Crate Sprints
A Feature 1: 1. 349-Eric Saunders, 06:49.426; 2. 3G-John Gurley, 06:51.480; 3. 70-Eli Lakin, 06:56.322; 4. 99-Jack James, 06:59.343; 5. 48-Charlie Miller, 06:53.428; 6. 75-Kyle Gunkel, 03:05.553
Heat 1: 1. 70-Eli Lakin, 04:45.787; 2. 3G-John Gurley, 04:47.515; 3. 349-Eric Saunders, 04:47.897; 4. 99-Jack James, 04:51.344; 5. 75-Kyle Gunkel, 04:51.628; 6. 48-Charlie Miller, 04:52.946