Trenton, MI native Paul Pelletier steered his way to an exciting victory in the Butch Giles Memorial 100 for the ARCA Moran Chevrolet Late Models Saturday night at Flat Rock Speedway. The event was also the 5th and final leg in the Allegiant Air Gold Cup Series, contested between Flat Rock and its sister track, Toledo Speedway. Grand Rapids, MI driver Mike Root won a thrilling duel with Scott Hantz to repeat at Gold Cup champ that was decided at the stripe on the final lap of the event. Henry and Jeff Giles, representing their family and Giles Auto Body, presented trophies to the victors.
The evening started amid threatening skies, with rain falling around the track most of the afternoon. The showers hit the track just as qualifying was completed. The race card started ½ hour late at 7:30 and was completed in its entirety.
A total of 30 Late Models were on hand for the event. Mike Root started things off by setting fast time at 11:548, giving him 15 points and tying him with Scott Hantz for the Gold Cup point lead going into the 100 lap event. Hantz ended up 14th quick after breaking a hub during his qualifying run. Jim Thiel took the 15 lap last-chance race over Matthew Bullock, Jeff MacZink and Steve Peters. Those 4 moved to the main event.
With an 11 car inversion, outside polesitter Harold Fair Jr. took the lead after things settled down when several cars spun on the first try. Everyone took the restart green, and Fair took off, building up a quick lead. Brent Jack jumped to second spot, Chad Finley third, with George Rangel and Ricky Kargel in tow. The 24 car field race hard, giving fans a great race throughout the 100 laps. A total of 6 yellows kept things bunched and with heavy traffic, Hantz, Root and Dave Kuhlman were trailing the lead pack for most of the first half of the event. By lap 25, the leaders hit that traffic and on lap 28, Jack tapped Fair Jr. Jack backed out of the throttle, Fair got straightened up and Paul Pelletier took advantage of that, zipping by third place Finley and then Jack to take over second. Paul pulled even with Fair battling for the lead, while Eric Lee and Dennis Strickland joined the hunt. Lee got to third by lap 36, moving up from 10th starting spot. Pelletier edged out Fair for the lead on lap 44 and with traffic and a great 4 car tussle for position, Lee got boxed in and spun in turn 2, bringing out a quick yellow. Root shot to 5th spot by lap 40 and also was now in contention, while Hantz and Kuhlman were just moving into the top 10 by the lap 50 mark.
Pelletier motored away to a comfortable lead as Fair stayed in second until Root grabbed that spot on lap 54. A pair of yellows erased Paul's lead each time, allowing Root to close in as the race wound down. The lead duo got away from the pack and put on a show. Root dove low on lap 87 to take the lead only for a short distance, but Pelletier powered his way back to the front by using a lapped car as a pick. In the final 30 laps, Hantz and Kuhlman began to make their way to the top five. That duo diced back and forth, with Hantz getting by Kuhlman and then Fair to take third, all the time closing in on the top two. Hantz really cut the gap in the final 15 laps and on lap 97, Ron Allen and Brent Jack spun in turn 2 right in front of Pelletier, Root and a fast-closing Hantz. Paul had no place to go and clipped a car, knocking off the right front corner of his machine. Root tapped him, but both were able to keep going. Pelletier was able to hang on for the win, and Root and Hantz battled for the runner-up spot and the Gold Cup title. Hantz dove low as Root stayed in his favorite outside lane for the final 3 circuits, with Root holding on for second and the Gold Cup title. A great run by Hantz earned him third spot, Fair Jr. was fourth and Kuhlman fifth. Strickland, Jack Varney Jr., Lee, Royce Cornett and Stan Yee Jr. completed the top ten, all completing the 100 lap distance. Allen and Finley were next in line, also going 100 laps.
3 cars took turns leading the 20 lap ARCA Figure 8 show, filled with wild intersection traffic. James Rae led the first 2 laps, Dennis Whisman led the next 2 and Greg Studt zipped by on lap 5 on his way to his 3rd consecutive win at the track. Whisman dogged Studt the rest of the way and took second at the stripe, current point leader Jeremy Vanderhoof was third, Robbie Loving fourth and Jerry Lee fifth, followed by Anthony Terris, Gary Cronenwett, Rae, Chuck Pankow and Ron Allen, at the wheel of Rob Martel's #44. Whisman and Loving took the heat wins, while Vanderhoof set quick time at 20:455.
It was all Chad Guinn in the 25 lap ARCA DTS Drive Train Specialists Street Stock A Main feature race as Guinn powered Bill Meade's #86 to victory. A lap 11 yellow pile-up in turn 3 eliminated Tadek Stadniczuk and Darrell Krause from the contest. On the restart, Guinn had company from Rich Frantz and Dan Ford Jr. That duo closed in but it was Guinn in command at the checkered flag. Frantz, Ford Jr., Danny Slater, Tim Moore, Frank Jiovani, Rob Moore, Josh Bunting, James Hazlett and Jeff Kurzyniec completed the top ten finishers in the 24 car field.
Billy Cronce took the low groove and took the lead on lap 9 on his way to victory in the 15 lap B Main event. Rayce Metdepenningen was the leader on the start, with 2 and 3 wide racing causing a rash of yellow flags during the event. Cronce held on through it all to claim the win over Rich Abel, Steve Chartrand, James Rae, Metdepennigen, Lonnie York, Anthony Camilli, Jimmy Little, Craig Lange and Shonda Harbin.
Tim Moore posted fast time for the 36 car field at 13:436, with Abel leading the B cars at 14:183. Heat race winners were Brad Wyatt, Clyde McKee, Paul Duffin, Chartrand and York.
Saturday, August 7 is the date for the 250 lap Enduro contest, plus action with the ARCA 4 Cylinders and the Figure 8 Train race! The train race features 2 cars chained together-the front with the engine, the back car with the brakes, making it a fan favorite. The pit gates open at 4:30, the front gates and the ticket office open at 5:30, with practice for the 4 Cylinders also at that time. Racing begins at 7 p.m.