The 2019 American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT) wrapped up a weekend doubleheader at Merritt Speedway Saturday night, and it was David Mielke who went to YellowHose.com Victory Lane for the second time in his career, and the second time in two weeks.
The AELMT weekend began on Friday as drivers tried to set Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants Fast Time. Group Number One was lead by Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame member Steven Hilliker with a 14.982, over Logan Arntz’s 15.064, and Preston Deshano’s 15.709. In Group Two, Travis Stemler paced the field with a 15.112, over Dona Marcoullier’s 15.180, and Dave Baker’s 15.284. Mielke broke into the 14 second bracket in Group Three turning in a 14.903, over Brandon Thirlby and his 15.047, and Kyle Novak’s 15.330. The fourth and final group was paced by Cody Bauer with a 15.061, Chris Brindly clocked in at a 15.072, and Wade Witherspoon with a 15.073.
Do to rescheduled races from Thursday night’s rain out, heat races were scraped for the AELMT event, however, two 25 lap, $1,000 to win KEL Graphics Qualifiers were held to decide who would battle in a starting position determining Dash. Qualifier Number One was another victory in the cap for Mielke, as he led wire to wire over Thirlby, Arntz, and Novak. Qualifier Number Two saw Stemler go to victory lane at Merritt for just the second time in his career, over Eric Spangler, Marcoullier, and Cody Bauer. The top four drivers from each Qualifier were put into American Ethanol Dash Number One, while positions 5-8 made up American Ethanol Dash Number Two, and the rest of the field would run Last Chance Qualifiers.
Saturday’s action began with the eight lap dash races that would set the starting line-up for the 40 lap main event. Dash One set positions 1-8 for the feature, with Dash Two setting positions 9-16. Mielke went back to victory lane in Dash One over Stemler and Spangler, while Michael Luberda won Dash Two over Nick Kurtz and Rich Bell.
Two Last Chance Qualifiers were needed to finish setting the field, with the top two cars from each race getting a chance to battle for $5,000, while the other drivers would be placed in a non-transfer B-Main. In LCQ Number One, John Goodrich got the win over Steve Nieuwenhuis, and Andrew Terrill and Dave Baker raced their way into the show through LCQ Number Two. Wade Witherspoon won the non-transfer B-Main Feature.
The stage was now set for the Independence 40, with David Mielke and Travis Stemler leading the field to the American Ethanol Green Flag. Mielke quickly jumped out to the early race lead, while Eric Spangler quickly shuffled Stemler out of line, and back to third place ahead of Brandon Thirlby and Logan Arntz. The top five would run that way, largely uncontested through the halfway point, but a pair of late race cautions turned up the wick at the front of the field.
A single car spin brought out the caution flag on lap 32, stacking up the field with just eight laps to go. Bell, Arntz, and Kyle Novak went three wide on the restart, battling for a top five finish. Bell managed to take the spot momentarily, but Artnz crossed Bell over and retook the spot before a two car spin in turn four with Steven HIlliker and Mike Vandermark, Jr brought out the caution.
On the ensuing restart, Mielke jumped back out to the lead, but it was Thirbly who powered to the inside of Spangler into turns one and two, and took the second spot away down the back stretch. Stemler, who was still running in the fourth spot, defended Arntz and Bell who were still locked into a fight for the fifth spot. A final caution flew on lap 37 for a single car incident, setting up a three lap dash to the checkers. Even still, no one could manage to get close enough to Mielke to challenge for the win.
With the win, Mielke becomes the first repeat winner of 2019 (I-96 Speedway, Merritt Speedway), the first back-to-back winner of the season, and he becomes the first ever driver to win in the American Ethanol Modified Tour Presented by Allstar Performance, and the AELMT during the same show or weekend.
The next event for the AELMT is a postponed show at I-96 Speedway on Friday, July 19th, before the AELMT takes a small Summer Vacation in preparation for a huge August and September.
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KEL Graphics Qualifier 1: 1. #87M David Mielke; 2. #M14 Brandon Thirlby; 3. #21A Logan Arntz; 4. #24N Kyle Novak; 5. #1W Michael Luberda; 6. #21B Rich Bell; 7. #21S Steve Hilliker; 8. #41V Mike Vandermark Jr.; 9. #44G John Goodrich; 10. #33T Bob Timmer; 11. #23 Preston Deshano; 12. #44 Colin Shipley; 13. #16 Mike Staszak; 14. #73 Steve Nieuwenhuis; 15. #5X Richard Cebula.
KEL Graphics Qualifier 2: 1. #2 Travis Stemler; 2. #27 Eric Spangler; 3. #6M Dona Marcoullier; 4. #19X Cody Bauer; 5. #79 Nick Kurtz; 6. #87K Josh Knoll; 7. #10 Brett Miller; 8. #03 JC Witherspoon; 9. #4T Andrew Terrill; 10. #04 Wade Witherspoon; 11. #3 Jeremy Tulick; 12. #15 Dave Baker; 13. #25CB Chris Brindley; 14. #25JB Jim Billett; 15. #00 Rob Lewis; 16. #42 Chad Finley.
LCQ 1: 1. #1W Michael Luberda; 2. #79 Nick Kurtz; 3. #21B Rich Bell; 4. #87K Josh Knoll; 5. #10 Brett Miller; 6. #41V Mike Vandermark Jr.; 7. #21S Steve Hilliker; 8. #03 JC Witherspoon.
LCQ 2: 1. #4T Andrew Terrill; 2. #15 Dave Baker; 3. #04 Wade Witherspoon; 4. #25CB Chris Brindley; 5. #3 Jeremy Tulick; 6. #25JB Jim Billett; 7. #00 Rob Lewis.
B-Main: 1. #04 Wade Witherspoon; 2. #3 Jeremy Tulick; 3. #23 Preston Deshano; 4. #25JB Jim Billett; 5. #00 Rob Lewis; 6. #44 Colin Shipley; 7. #33T Bob Timmer; 8. #16 Mike Stazak; 9. #25CB Chris Brindley.
Independence 40: 1. #87M David Mielke; 2. #M14 Bandon Thirlby; 3. #27 Eric Spangler; 4. #2 Travis Stemler; 5. #21A Logan Arntz; 6. #21B Rich Bell; 7. #79 Nick Kurtz; 8. #10 Brett Miller; 9. #1W Michael Luberda; 10. #87K Josh Knoll; 11. #4T Andrew Terrill; 12. #03 JC Witherspoon; 13. #21S Steve Hilliker; 14. #44G John Goodrich; 15. #41V Mike Vandermark Jr.; 16. #24N Kyle Novak; 17. #15 Dave Baker; 18. #73 Steve Nieuwenhuis; 19. #6M Dona Marcoullier; 20. #19X Cody Bauer.