Racing Returns To UPIR Track With Features And Accidents
Racing returned to the Upper Peninsula International Raceway for the 2014 UPIR Racing Season Sponsored by The Bays de Noc Convention and Visitors Bureau on Saturday after a month long break for the month of July.
The race night was Fan Appreciation Night at the raceway, sponsored by Elmer's County Market. Race cars were on display in front of the grandstand allowing fans to get a close look at the cars, meet the drivers, receive autographed pictures and sweet treats. To add to the event, the sun shined bright over the crowd, allowing for the warmest race day of the year.
The nights activities began with the 500 Micro Sprint Division running a make-up feature from the rained-out June 21 race weekend. It was a race of pure attrition with only 4 of the original 9 cars coming across the line after 20 laps. For the third feature race in a row, Kristy Peterson took the win, continuing her great 2014 season. Second place went to Paul Hosking, with Jesse Liss edging out sister Justina for third.
After the 500 Sprint Make-up was run, the Sport Fours came out for their three heats. The first heat saw the O'Reilly Auto Parts Caution come right out with a scary crash between Cody Johnson and points leader Erik Marenger. Johnson's car spun in turn one, and was then t-boned in the driver's side door. Both drivers were okay, Marenger was able to continue the race, but fell out with a flat tire late in the going. Tyler Corwin wound up with the checkered flag, with Shaun Olson second and Ethan Thomma third. The second heat was won by Justin Lauscher, followed in second by Bryon Stemick, and in third by Tyler Winling. The final heat was won by Chris Olson, with Randy DeGrave second, and Cory Corwin third.
The Showcase Division, the 600 Micro Sprints, came onto the track and ran two heats. The first heat was won by Jim Groleau with second place being taken by Bart Kostreva (Crivitz) and third going to Josh Bartel, the point leader coming into the night. Heat 2 went to 2013 Track Champion Matt Peterson with second place to Todd Belanger with Denver Larsen of Shiocton third.
The Street Stocks two heats saw Paul Wagner finish first, points leader Ron Jenshak second, and Corey DeGrave third. Heat 2 went to Steve Hurkman, followed by Rob Willis and Kurt Schwalbach.
For the second time on the evening, the 500 Micro Sprints were on the track for their heat race. After points leader Kristy Peterson dropped out with a mechanical issue, Gabriel Zellner (Green Bay) was able to claim the win. Second position went to Paul Hosking and third to Jesse Liss.
Ty Springer of Eagle River won the Junior Micro Sprint Heat followed by Dylan Larsen and Joey Stankowicz. Points leader Logan Getzloff did not finish after a mechanical failure.
The final division to run Heat Races was the Modifieds with the first of two heats going to 2012 Track Champion Matt Valiquette. The 2013 Track Champion Dale Peterson was second and John Ostermann of Niagara third. Heat 2 was won by Anthony Harper, being chased by Lonnie Dalgord in second and Pat Richer in third.
The Showcase Division,the 600 Micro Sprints, as always, was introduced to the fans during intermission and went out onto the track for their 25 lap Feature Race. A scary crash brought out the Red Flag as Denver Larsen slowed with a mechanical issue on the back straight away, Jamie St. Jacques went to avoid the slowing car of Larsen, turned left as the car snapped around and slammed sideways into a tire marking the infield, and flipped onto its side. When the checkered flag fell, Matt Peterson claimed the win, with Josh Bartel second, and Todd Belanger third.
The Sport Fours ran a LCQ (Last Chance Qualifier) race to fill the final two spots of the Feature race. Yet again, the fans held their breath as Maggie Martin was involved in the third vicious accident of the night. Identical to the Johnson/Marenger crash in Heat 1, Martin was t-boned in Turn 1 on the first lap and taken to the hospital for further evaluation, but returned to the track later in the night. The driver plans to race next weekend. Due to the three caution rule to keep time constraints in check, Zach Jones and Kirk Millette transferred into the feature.
The 500 Micro Sprints ran their Feature next, with the first new winner in three races. Gabriel Zellner was able to sweep the regularly scheduled races for the 500 Sprints, winning the heat, and the feature. Dave Hosking came home in second, with points leader Kristy Peterson third.
For their feature, the Street Stocks watched as points leader Ron Jenshak cut down a tire, leading to a poor finish. Second in points, however, Rob Willis jumped at this opportunity to gain on Jenshak and took the win. Behind Willis were Paul Wagner and Kurt Schwalbach respectively.
In the kids Junior Micro Sprint Feature, Ty Springer, for what seemed like the fourth or fifth time this year, went airborne, managing to save the car and continue on to win the race, earning him the nickname Flyin' Ty Springer. Second Place was Dylan Larsen with Avry Corrigan in third.
The Mighty Modifieds had a 20-lap Feature race and after methodically working his way through the field, Dale Peterson survived several late race restarts to win. Second went to Matt Valiquette, with a good run from Austin Cayer in third.
The final race was the Sport Fours' Feature, which went green all the way until lap 13, when a multi car accident took out front runner Justin Lauscher along with Kirk Millette, Ethan Thoma, and Tyler Tousignant. All four drivers were okay after several hard hits. Jon Pepin, driving the Randy Degrave car, won the feature after an incredible battle with Tyler Winling, who would finish second in his first race of the year. Rounding out the top three in third was Shaun Olson.
UPIR returns to action on Saturday August 9 with gates opening at 5pm EST, and racing starting at 6pm EST. Admission is $5, with 10 and under free. UPIR thanks all 2014 sponsors for their continued support, especially title sponsor the Bays de Noc Convention and Visitors Bureau. UPIR also thanks the fans and racers for their continued support of racing in Escanaba.
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