For the first time ever, the Advanced Auto Parts Upper Peninsula International Raceway was able to race three weeks in a row in the month of June. In years prior, rain would always interrupt the June stretch of races, but not this year. This year has seen beautiful weather thus far.
Riverside Auto Group Junior Micro Sprints
In the first two weeks of racing at UPIR, Ethan Manninen had won three of the four races run for the Junior Micro Sprint division, two features and one heat. This week the world of racing showed how cruel it can be to young Manninen. In the heat race, Manninen’s car lost power, coming to rest on the front straight away. Even after a push to get him going again, the car’s tires would not power though the engine was wailing. The end of the heat was a nail biter as Brody Steinhauer lost by mere inches to Karl Warm.
Unfortunately for Ethan Manninen, the feature race would end the same way as the heat, with no power in the infield. The points leader coming into the night, Manninen was sure to lose it with his mechanical issues.
As the race continued, Brody Steinhauer and Karl Warm resumed their heat race battle at the front of the field. With two laps to go, Steinhauer spun in turn two but quickly regained his second position. The Steinhauer spin would allow Karl Warm to cruise through the final laps to score his first feature victory of 2019. Steinhauer held on for second place and Kaleb Warm finished third.
Karl Warm moves to the points lead over a tied Ethan Manninen and Brody Steinhauer by a margin of nine points.
Sportsman Micro Sprints
The Labre’s, Brett and Luke, controlled much of the Sportsman Micro Sprint feature with Brett in first and Luke in second. From third on back, the battle was wild.
A four car group consisting of Drake Degnan, Jeffrey Latsch, Trevor Denome, and Brennan Swanson fought hard over the second position through the middle of the race. Stacked tightly together, the drivers kept the racing clean and exciting. Eventually, the group would settle down and fall somewhat into place as drivers still fought for position.
Things, however, would not settle down for Jeffrey Latsch. Heading into the first run, Latsch clipped one of the newly buried tires denoting the inside edge of the racing surface. The impact sent Latsch’s car sideways and then tumbling into the infield. Over and over and over the car went before finely coming to rest on its side. Thankfully, Jeffrey was ok after the incident. In the pits later in the night, Latsch mentioned to fellow driver Gunnar Hansen he was ok but a little sore.
When the checkered flag fell it would be Brett Labre taking the win. Luke Labre crossed in second while Brennan Swanson grabbed his third straight top three finish at UPIR.
The win for Brett Labre creates a tie at the top of the points standings between himself and Mr. Consistency Brennan Swanson. Trevor Denome falls to third, nine points back from the lead duo.
Getchell Builders 600 Micro Sprints
A change in fortunes was in store for Robert Buttry Saturday night. For the first two weeks at UPIR, Buttry ended his night early, upside down in the heat race. This week Buttry would not only finish the heat, he would win it as well. From there, he would start from the top spot in the feature race later in the evening. Buttry led the opening portion of the feature before losing the car in turn four. The field barreling down on him narrowly avoided the stricken Buttry in what could have been a massive crash. Robert Buttry clawed his way back through the field for a strong eighth place run. If he can string together a full night, Robert Buttry will be in victory lane for a feature before the year is out.
The green flag would fly again and Jered Cech would check out from the field (pun intended). Cech would win the feature race by a large margin over second place Kyle Getchell. In third was Paul Hosking.
The second place for Kyle Getchell places him atop the points standings by three points over Josh Bartel. Matt Peterson, who had issues late in the going, falls from the points lead to third. He is nine points back from Getchell.
U.P. Vintage Modifieds
For the third feature in a row, the points leader would have issues. This time it was Charles Peterson who’s night would end prematurely. In the opening laps of the feature race, Peterson was involved in a two car incident with Allan Yelle. Yelle was able to continue on but Peterson wasn’t as lucky, his night was over.
The rest of the feature for the U.P. Vintage Modifieds would run without any further incidents. For the second week in a row, Scott Degnan would park it in victory lane, establishing himself as the one to beat on Saturday nights. Terry Royer would follow in second and Nick Pinar, making his second appearance of the season, would follow in third.
Despite the two wins in a row, Scott Degnan still finds himself in third position in the points standings. Remember that Degnan’s first week came to an early end in a turn three crash. The points leader at this time is Terry Royer. Royer has a three point advantage over Herbie Iverson, who sits in second, and a six point advantage over Degnan.
A&L Iron and Metal Street Stocks
A caution free race was in store for the A&L Iron and Metal Street Stocks in their feature. As has been the trend in the first two weeks of racing in the division at UPIR, Paul Wagner and Billy Bowden showed some muscle as the class of the field.
For almost the entirety of the 20 lap feature Wagner and Bowden battled for the lead. Running the perfect line to keep Bowden at bay, Wagner would lead most of the laps in the race. Bowden did all he could but in the end it wasn’t enough to get around Wagner.
While Wagner saw the white flag, Bowden spun in turn four, sealing the race win for Wagner. Bowden was able to get the car refired and maintain his second position at the finish. Corey DeGrave finished third following a heat win earlier in the night. Both of those runs are welcomed by DeGrave who has been struggling with his car since the late stages of the 2018 season.
In the points battle, Paul Wagner breaks the tie with Billy Bowden to emerge as points leaser after three weeks. Bowden is a mere three points back in second while third place, Corey DeGrave, is 18 points back from the lead.
Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modifieds
Cautions plagued the Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modified feature race almost as soon as the green flag fell. Numerous drivers spun during race but would continue on to the finish. One incident, though, would end the night for one driver who was working his way to the front.
While many of the drivers preferred to stay low, it was Matt Valiquette that would take to the high side of the track to make up positions, and make up positions he did. For several laps, Valiquette would pick off a position or two from drivers on the inside line. But what helped him make these spots up would also be his down fall. Though it was a faster way around the track for Valiquette, the outside line left him vulnerable to the drivers on the inside. Exiting turn two, Pat Richer’s car shot straight up the track with some sort of issue. Valiquette with nowhere to go sideswiped Richer and slammed into the outside wall, ending his night early.
Chris Pepin, who also used the outside line, would go on to win the feature. In an impressive run from the tenth starting position, Pepin made it two wins in a row at UPIR. Mike Richer, after leading several laps, finished in second and Jamie Iverson followed in third.
Pepin now has a 24 point advantage over second place Lonnie Dalgord in the overall standings. In third place is Jamie Iverson, 27 points back from Pepin.
The last group to run their feature, as is usual at UPIR, was the Sport Compacts. The race would be a quick and clean one, running green flag for its entire 20 laps.
Matt Adams would find himself in the lead pretty quickly in the feature with Tyler Corwin chasing him down from second. The two drivers would beat and bang their way through lapped traffic in an incredible duel for the top spot. As is often the case with lapped traffic one driver will make the wrong or, in this case, the right move. Adams was able to make his way through the lapped cars while Crowin struggled to follow.
In the end it was Matt Adams finding redemption one week after mechanical issues cost him the lead late and relegated him to a second place finish. In second this week was Tyler Corwin while points leader Trever Cronick crossed the line in third.
While Cronick leads the points, it is a tie for second place between Tyler Corwin and Matt Adams. Those two drivers fall 15 points behind Cronick.
Racing returns next weekend at the Advance Auto Parts Upper Peninsula International Raceway with the prestigious Art Richer Memorial event. Racing starts at 6 p.m. EST while gates open at 4 p.m EST.