Photo Gallery: Mielke Survives Battle Of Speed From I-96 Speedway

Top 3: Chad Finley, David Mielke, and Jeep VanWormer. Photos by Jim DenHamer. Text by Zach Hiser.

The American Ethanol Late Model (AELMT) Tour took on the I-96 Speedway for the first time during the 2019 season during the Battle of Speed 40 Presented by Zook Farm Equipment.  Coming into the event, seven different drivers had found YellowHose.com Victory Lane, with five of them marking their first ever AELMT victory – that trend continued again.

#44 Matt Shipley and #10 Brett Miller.

Left: #11 Ryan Lanphiend and #41 Jason Playter Jr. Right: #2 Travis Stemler and #87 David Mielke.

American Ethanol Qualifying was the first thing on the list for the AELMT, with two groups of cars battling for a chance to become the Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants Fast Qualifier.  Group Number One was lead by Chad Finley with a 16.222 besting Ryan VanderVeen’s 16.416, and Rich Bell’s 16.488. Group Number Two saw Logan Arntz post a 16.211 ahead of Travis Stemler’s 16.580 and Nick Kurtz’s 16.709.  So for the second week in a row, Arntz posted a career best by picking up his first career Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants Fast Qualifier Award.

Left: #12 Scott Fisk, #23 Ryan VandeVeen, and #42 Chad Finley. Right: #12 Scott Fisk and #41 Jason Playter Jr.

#21 Logan Arntz and #87 David Mielke.

In Michigan Corn Growers Association Heat Race Number One, Rich Bell picked up a heat race win over David Mielke and Brandon Thirlby.  Thirlby was on the recovery path after damaging the nose piece during his qualifying effort. In YellowHose.com Heat Race Number Two, Stemler paced the field ahead of Arntz and Kurtz.  The top three drivers from each heat race would go on to the redraw, after a rare exhibition race.

Six cars lined up for a six lap battle looking for an extra $300 for first, $150 for second, and $100 for third.  The Dash for Cash included Ryan VanderVeen, Rich Bell, Travis Stemler, David Mielke, Jeep VanWormer, and Brett Miller.  VanderVeen showed muscle in his 23v machine, picking up the win ahead of Bell and Stemler. Miller and VanWormer had struggles, with Miller getting into the outside wall, and VanWormer rolling the nose piece under after getting into the cushion.

#55 Jeep Vanwormer and #42 Chad Finley.

Left: #87 David Mielke and #21 Rich Bell. Right: #10 Brett Miller and #21 David Hilliker.

After the redraw, it was time for the Battle for Speed 40 Presented by Zook Farm Equipment.  A stacked first three rows, included Brandon Thirlby (5th), Logan Arnts (3rd), and Travis Stemler (1st), all drivers looking to become the first repeat winner of the 2019 season.  Stemler and David Mielke led the field to the American Ethanol Green flag, with Stemler jumping out to the early race lead. However, the caution flag would fly soon after, as Thirlby was again bit by the large cushion that lined the I-96 Speedway, again rolling his nose piece up and under the right front of the car.  He slowed going into turn number three, bringing out the first caution of the night.

Left: #15 Dave Baker and #21 David Hilliker. Right: #14 Brandon Thirlby and #10 Brett Miller.

#2 Travis Stemler and #21 David Hilliker.

On the restart, Stemler went back to work, jumping back out front, setting his sights on the chance to become a repeat winner in 2019.  Those hopes quickly vanished when, on lap 10, Stemler became the next victim of the Speedway, busting up his nose piece, and spinning off the top of turn number three.  That would hand things over to Logan Arntz for the restart.

#21 Logan Arntz and #55 Jeep VanWormer.

Left: #23 Ryan VanderVeen and #21 Rich Bell. Right: #42 Chad Finley and #55 Jeep VanWormer.

Arntz took off with the lead over David Mielke, and was looking like the man to beat for the $4,000 pay day as he lead through the halfway point over Mielke and VanWormer.  All that would change when Arntz slipped up coming off the second corner, allowing Mielke to get to his inside. Mielke charged to the lead just in time, as the caution flew once again for Thirlby.

#42 Chad Finley and #23 Ryan VanderVeen.

From there, Mielke held on to collect his first career AELMT feature win, making him the 8th different driver to go to victory lane in 2019, and the sixth first time winner of the season.  He bested a hard charging VanWormer who came from a seventh place starting spot, and a determined Chad Finley, who recovered from a near spin with less than 10 laps to go; Arntz and VanderVeen rounded out the top five.

David Mielke.

The next event for the AELMT will be a huge Fourth of July Weekend event at Merritt Speedway.  The AELMT will do battle on Friday and Saturday night, while the American Ethanol Modified Tour Presented by Allstar Performance will race and Thursday and Friday.  Complete event details will be released in the coming days.

For more on the AELMT, log on to aelmt.com. 

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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