Carleton, MI driver Dennis Strickland pulled off a stunning victory in the 25th Anniversary of the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200 Saturday night at Toledo Speedway, in front of a large crowd on a beautiful September evening. The race, presented by Francis Engineering, Woodville Auto Finance, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, was wild and full of action and excitement, despite a long, long 101 lap segment due to numerous yellow flags and a pair of red flags. The Great Lakes Helicopter "Kids" presented Dennis with a huge Silver Cup for his victory.
1969 and 1973 Glass City 200 winner Joe Ruttman served as Grand Marshal of the event and received an ARCA lifetime membership Gold Card in pre-race ceremonies from ARCA President and Toledo promoter Ron Drager.
Strickland, Flat Rock Speedway's 2013 champion, the 7th different leader of the 200 lap event, was met by a huge ovation in an emotional and celebratory Sun Drop Winner's Circle. Dennis becomes the first "local" driver to capture this prestigious event since Ed Cooper's win in 1976.
Scott Hantz wheeled the #72 to the $500 Woodville Auto Finance Fast Qualifier Award with a lap of 14:856 to lead the 33 car field, which was pared down to mechanical woes by several drivers. Friday's 2 hour practice session saw Brian Ross end his weekend early with engine trouble in Bob Blount's #16. Saturday was not a good day for 2011 race winner Augie Grill. The Alabama driver was a surprise entry, but the Jerry Artuso-led team battled all sorts of issues both days and finally threw in the towel. Trevor McCoy also encountered engine trouble and was not able to compete. And in the final scuff session before the 200, Jack Varney Jr. had an engine let go, setting the field at 29 cars for the 200 lap grind.
With a 12 car inversion, 3-time winner Steve Sauve and 2-time winner Harold Fair Jr. brought the field to the green flag, which was thrown by Meloni Lojko of Great Lakes Helicopter. Sauve darted into the lead but the action was stopped with just 1 lap in when Terry Senneker looped his car in turn 3, resulting in Mike Root, Billy Roberts and Ron Allen slamming into the wall. All drivers were ok but done for the night. Scott Pemberton also got collected in the fray and was eliminated in the incident. With the red out, Senneker went down pit road for repairs as did several other cars.
On the restart, Monte Tolan, in his first Toledo start, got into the turn 3 wall, slowing the action again as he tangled with Senneker. Brent Jack moved around Sauve on the restart and took the point on lap 3. Finally, green flag racing gave the field a chance to begin their moves. Johnny VanDoorn, the second fast qualifier, started 11th and moved to 5th by lap 15. Jack was on the fly and was closing in on the tail of the field by lap 21, but the yellow came out again when Don St. Denis spun in turn 4, saving Senneker from perhaps going down a lap. Harold Fair Jr. pitted while running fourth, but returned to stay on the lead lap. VanDoorn was up to 3rd by lap 34 and Hantz had grabbed 5th spot. Senneker, who had dropped back to 24th, got back to 10th by lap 42, and that's when VanDoorn zipped by Jack to take the number 1 spot. At lap 50, it was VanDoorn, Jack, Jeff Ganus,Sauve, Hantz, Nick Bailey, Strickland, Jake Francis, Senneker and Nick Grodi.
The next 51 laps were a little smoother, but the leader changed again on lap 62 when VanDoorn coasted to a stop in turn 2 after he lost an oil pump belt, ending his bid for that first Glass City win. Ganus, who took over 2nd from Jack, was now the leader and he wasted no time on the restart as he built up a straight-away lead very quickly. On lap 79, Nick Bailey spun in turn 3 as the result of fluid all around the track, which, unfortunately, was out of the #5 Ganus ride. Jeff was done for the night and now Hantz assumed the lead for the first time in the race. Hantz stayed in front to the lap 101 break, collecting the $200 Francis Engineering Half-Way Award. The top 10 board was Hantz, Jack, Strickland, Bailey, Fair Jr., Senneker, Johnny Belott, Sauve, Francis and Grodi. Strickland worked the high groove and moved up 3 spots in the final 20 laps before the break.
16 cars hit the track for the final 99 laps. This portion was a bit calmer, but the action up front for the lead and through the top 10 was very competitive and kept things exciting. Jack grabbed the lead on lap 102 and again looked very strong out front, as Hantz looked low lap after lap as he shadowed Jack. Brent's car slowed quickly on lap 130 as he called it a day, giving Hantz back the top spot. Senneker, wheeling a battered car, began to apply the pressure to Hantz after moving into the 2nd position by lap 132. Belott's day ended on lap 137 as he coasted to the pits.
A lap 144 yellow came out when Fair Jr. tapped Bailey while battling for third spot. Fair took responsibility and dropped to the rear of the field. Senneker nosed up high and then low when racing resumed, looking to take the lead for the first time as the 2012 winner was determined to win a 2nd Glass City. The fireworks hit a high on lap 163 when the lead duo tangled, sending Hantz around in turn 4. Both drivers could not agree on fault, sending both to the rear of the pack.
Strickland, who was within striking distance and watched the incident unfold, was now the leader at lap 164. When the race went back to green, Fair Jr. who was sailing back to the front, began his battle with Dennis for the top spot. On lap 175, Fair nosed under Strickland going into turn 1 as the lead pair traded paint. Harold, looking for his third Glass City triumph, suffered what most of the leaders encountered in this race. Going into turn 3 on lap 177, something broke on Fair's car, sending Harold into a wild spin in a shower of sparks and also hard into the turn 3 wall, ending his bid for the win.
Strickland again was the leader and for the final 23 laps, Dennis pulled away from Hantz and Senneker to grab the huge victory, touching off a jubilant celebration. Strickland collected $6840 for his win. Hantz was second and Senneker third. Bailey capped off a great day with fourth and Jake Francis notched fifth spot, staying up in the lead pack all night.
Nick Grodi recorded a great 6th place run, with Jim Froling 7th in Jack Burnette's V-6 machine. Mike Young was 8th, Dave Stehouwer 9th and Brian Clay 10th. Clay also picked up the $250 bonus from Burge Wrecking for the Most Improved Position Award. The bonus was very deserving as Brian backed his car into the wall Monday during a test and then went back to the west side of Michigan Friday night to fix and engine issue. Clay made it back to Toledo just before qualifying. The top 9 cars finished on the lead lap. Sauve, looking to become the only 4-time winner of the race, dropped out on lap 193. Positions 10-29 were Sauve, Chris Benson, Fair Jr., Belott, Jack, Ganus, Jimmy Thiel, Mike Simko, VanDoorn, Josh Way, St. Denis, Frank Jiovani, George Rangel, Steve Cronenwett Jr., Tolan, Pemberton, Root, Allen and Roberts.
Strickland also will receive a $250 award from Penske Shocks. Francis, Grodi, Clay and Chris Benson took the $100 All Star Performance/Lane Automotive gift certificates for their finishes. DTS Drive Train Specialists also doled out five $50 labor certificates in a random draw for the drivers in the 200 field.
Additional sponsors for the 200 included R & M Recycling, Bazell Race Fuels, Sunoco Racing Fuel McIntosh Oil/Marcus Malcuit Racing and First Care Ambulance.
Mike Young, doing double duty, scored his first-ever Toledo victory in the 40 lap Woodville Auto Finance Sportsman feature. 14 year-old JJ Haley was an early leader until Young sailed by and then held back Ron Allen in the final thrilling 2 laps to grab the very popular victory. Young received the 5 foot trophy from Woodville Auto Finance and a $50 labor certificate from DTS. Allen was second, Haley third, Chad Guinn fourth and Howard Kelley Jr. fifth. Tommy O'Leary, Kevin Stahl Jr., Greg Stilwell, Kenny McKay and Chad Stilwell completed the top 10. Fast qualifier Jim Froling (17:285) encountered mechanical woes early in the race, ending the day for the 2013 track champion for the class. Brian Pelkey, Dan Grigsby, David Frantz, Andy Harding, Chris Fitzpatrick, Rich Abel, Froling and Rich Frantz were next in the finishing order.
Track champ Tommy O'Leary was the winner of the 30 lap X Car race on the short track over Greg Studt, Dennis Whisman, Craig Lange, Archie Padgett, Landon Schuster, Dan Doyle Jr., Ian Jezylo, Adam Jezylo, Derek Denton and Lonnie York. O'Leary's win also included a 5 foot trophy, courtesy of Sandusky Speedway and a $50 DTS certificate.
The 2013 season is now complete. The track's awards Night is set for Saturday,October 12 at the Toledo Speedway Bar and Grille banquet room. For information, call 419-727-1100.