[Special from Zach Hiser]
The 2019 season is quickly coming to an end in the Great Lakes Region, and that was true for Hartford Speedway on Saturday night, as they hosted the American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT) for their final event of the season. The season didn’t end though before another stellar event from the huge 3/8ths mile.
Rusty Schlenk has collected big wins in the past with the AELMT, and his trend continued Saturday night, but he had his work cut out for him, starting ninth for the Fall Special. Travis Stemler and Dave Baker lead the field to the American Ethanol Green Flag. The race was slowed before the first lap was completed when a seven-car pile-up ensued in the treacherous turn three. As the field roared into the corner, Greg Gokee slid into the outside wall, spinning from his eighth starting spot, collecting Brett Miller, Ryan Lanphierd, Rachel Carpenter, Championship Contender Rich Bell, Doris Lajeunesse, and Ryan Heskett were all involved. The incident would mark the end of the night for Miller, Lanphierd, Lajeunesse, and Heskett.
After a red flag for cleanup and a nearly 10-minute delay, the field was reset and Stemler and Baker would again lead the field to the green. From there, the field worked itself out as drivers began to find what they had for the course of 40 laps. Early, it looked as though the race was Stemler’s to win, and he would make a huge mark on the Championship battle over Brandon Thirlby. Stemler had stretched out an over two-second advantage over Baker, but Schlenk had found his groove on the outside of the Speedway and was clicking off lap times nearly a full second faster-a-lap than Stemler.
At the halfway point in the race, Schlenk had worked his way inside the top five and was working on tracking down Baker and Stemler. He quickly dismissed Baker, and was soon tailing the Blue Deuce. Stemler, seemingly knowing that Schlenk was coming strong, changed his line to try and slow up the McClure, Ohio native. The effort would slow Schlenk momentarily, but Stemler’s efforts wouldn’t be enough, as Schlenk pulled alongside off the second corner, and completed the pass off turn four to take the lead, never looking back. Schlenk motored to the win by over three seconds, collecting the $4,000 payday and the trip to Victory Lane. Stemler held on for Second, Baker posted his best career AELMT finish in Third, Ryan VanderVeen and Thirlby rounded out the top five.
The next event for the American Ethanol Late Model Tour will be the Hoosier Autumn Classic from Plymouth Speedway on Friday and Saturday, September 27th and 28th, with a practice day on Thursday the 26th. A pair of $2,500 to win events on Friday, with a $12,000 to win main event on Saturday.
For more on the AELMT, log onto aelmt.com.
Fall Special Results:
Zeigler Ford Heat Race 1: #1X Greg Gokey, #2 Travis Stemler, #23V Ryan VanderVeen, #10 Brett Miller, #15A Phil Ausra, #21B Rich Bell.
Michigan Corn Heat Race 2: #87M David Mielke, #21A Logan Arntz, #M14 Brandon Thirlby, #16 Garrett Wiles, #11 Rachel Carpenter, #RH21 Gregg Haskell.
One Ethanol Heat Race 3: #27 Eric Spangler, #CJ1 Rusty Schlenk, #15 Dave Baker, #11X Ryan Lanphierd, #02 Ryan Heskett, #38D Doris Lajeunesse.
Main Event: 1. 1. #CJ1 Rusty Schlenk, 2. #2 Travis Stemler, 3. #15 Dave Baker, 4. #23V Ryan VanderVeen, 5. #M14 Brandon Thirlby, 6. #21A Logan Arntz, 7. #27 Eric Spangler, 8. #21B Rich Bell, 9. #87M David Mielke, 10. #16 Garrett Wiles, 11. #15A Phil Ausra, 12. #1X Greg Gokey, 13. #11 Rachel Carpenter, 14. #RH21 Gregg Haskell, 15. #10 Brett Miller, 16. #11X Ryan Lanphierd, 17. #02 Ryan Heskett, 18. #38D Doris Lajeunesse.