Five-Time & Defending Track Champion, Eric Spangler Scores $10,000 Payday One Day Later – Wins 3rd Annual Merritt Showdown

June 16, 2017

American Ethanol Late Model Tour bring 36 teams to Northern Michigan for highest paying event in Tour history


Lake City, Michigan (Thursday, June 15th, 2017): The highest paying race in the three-year history of the American Ethanol Late Model Tour was at the fast ¼ (0.250) mile semi-banked dirt oval of Merritt Speedway, located west of Houghton Lake in Lake City, Michigan. The 3rd Annual Merritt Showdown presented by Don’s Auto Clinic would pay $10,000 to the winner and after a postponement by a day, some of the biggest DIRTcar UMP Late Model heavy hitters from throughout the Great Lakes / Midwestern region of the United States had made the trip and stayed the extra day in the “Great White North” to put on an exciting show. When the checkered flag flew, a familiar face was the first across the stripe as five-time and defending track champion, Eric Spangler who held off persistent challenges all race long from defending AELMT Champion, Dona Marcoullier to take home the $10,000 check.


“I grew up here, 32 years ago and been running here ever since. I’d really like to thank my Dad tonight. He’s 76 years old and doesn’t come all the time, but he helps out all week during the week. Also, Roxanne, Brent and everyone else that came out tonight.” An elated Spangler offered as his #27 Spangler Heating & Cooling / MastersBilt Race Cars / Home-Built Engines was surrounded by family and friends. “I seen him (Dona Marcoullier) many many of times. I knew he had a fast car, if he was ahead of me, he probably would’ve won this race. We didn’t screw up many laps and he didn’t either. It’s really that close between a lot of these guys on this tour.” Spangler ended. The $10,000 payday is the richest of the 48-year-olds’ career and third major victory at his home track which includes the inaugural Merritt Showdown in 2015 and a World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series race in 2016, all at Merritt.


After Mother Nature postponed the 50-lap Feature by 24 hours, Merritt Speedway Owner/Promoter, Mike Blackmer made the call to start all cars on the property in the $10,000 to win main event. This included the teams who had not transferred into the show the previous night who had returned and were slated to run the 15-Lap Boyne Machine Company B Main after the 50-lap main was completed. This meant that 26 cars would take the green flag and after the redraw of the top two finishers from the previous nights’ Qualifier Heat Races, 2016 AELMT Runner-Up, Ryan VanderVeen and Spangler would bring the massive field to the green flag.


Spangler would use the high side to his advantage to take the top spot and soon would be joined by Dona Marcoullier, the defending Merritt Showdown winner, who started third and had slipped past VanderVeen for second. For the remainder of the race, it was Spangler vs Marcoullier as the two standouts waged war with Marcoullier gliding past Spangler to briefly take the lead on lap nine only to lose it on lap 11 to Spangler. The two drivers set a torrid pace around the fast ¼ mile as they began to catch the back of the lead lap cars. Both drivers methodically picked their way through the traffic all the while continuing their chess match.


Current DIRTcar UMP Late Model National points leader, Rusty Schlenk worked his way up to third and was within striking distance of the two leaders and was battling with VanderVeen to stay on the podium. As the laps continued to click off, Spangler and Marcoullier continued to try and out maneuver each other while picking through traffic. With eight laps to go, Brandon Thirlby, who started 11th, fought past Schlenk and VanderVeen and set his sights on Spangler and Marcoullier. As time was running out, Spangler slowly begin to pull away from Marcoullier and kept enough real estate between himself and Marcoullier to take the checkered flag first and score his first AELMT victory since the 2015 Merritt Showdown, two years and five days ago. With the win, Spangler moves up to second in AELMT points, just six markers behind Marcoullier, who won the opener at I-96 Speedway on May 26th.


Marcoullier settled for second and maintains his points lead heading into a grueling three races in five days stretch from June 21-25th while Thirlby finished third and climbed one spot in the standings from fourth to third. VanderVeen was able to get back past Schlenk to finish in fourth while Schlenk would complete the top five finishers. ISKY Racing Cams Fast Qualifier, Curtis Roberts, who had to win one of the two Last Chance Races to get into the show, started 15th and finished sixth while Brian Ruhlman came home in seventh. Travis Stemler, one of the drivers who benefitted the most from the added starters would take the green flag in 22nd anf finished in ninth while the second Last Chance Race winner, Greg Gokey rounded out the top 10.  


The second straight midweek show of the season for the AELMT contingent will be on Wednesday, June 21st as the 3/10s (0.300) mile semi-banked dirt oval of Mt. Pleasant Speedway in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan will host their lone AELMT race of the year, the Carbon Green BioEnergy 40. In two appearances in 2016, Rich Bell would go to victory lane on June 22nd while veteran, Curtis Roberts scored his second career win, this one coming at his home track. In one appearance during the inaugural 2015 season, Brandon Thirlby would take home the checkered flag.


The Mt. Pleasant event begins a grueling stretch of three races in five days for the AELMT contingent. On Saturday, June 24th, the AELMT teams make their first ever visit to the Buckeye State and to the popular 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked dirt oval of Oakshade Raceway, located west of Toledo in Wauseon, Ohio for the Growth Energy 40. Then a day later on Sunday, June 25th, the second of three appearances in 2017 occurs at I-96 Speedway, located east of Grands Rapids and west of Lansing in Lake Odessa, Michigan for the Inaugural American Ethanol Shootout. The AELMT teams will headline and race in the 40 will be joined by the American Ethanol Modified Tour presented by Allstar Performance and the American Ethanol Mini Wedge Association. Racing will start at 6:00p.m. More information coming soon at:


For more information about the remainder of the 2017 racing season for the fasting growing dirt late model tour in the country, the American Ethanol Late Model Tour, please visit the website at: You can also follow the tour on Facebook by going to: and click on “Like”. The tour Twitter account will be the primary source for live race day updates throughout the 2017 racing season. Be sure to go to AELMT Twitter page today at: and click on “Follow”.


To learn more about Motor City Racing Promotions, the event management group for AELMT, email MCRP President, Scott Menlen at: or call the MCRP office at: (248) 747-6277. You can also go to the MCRP website at: The Facebook Fan Page for MCRP is at: and click on “Like” today. Don’t forget to “Follow” MCRP on Twitter at: Finally, and throughout the 2017 racing season, Live Timing & Scoring from every race in 2017 will be available for absolutely free from your mobile device by purchasing the Race Monitor Mobile App or online at:


2017 American Ethanol Late Model Tour Marketing Partners

American Ethanol (Title Sponsor) Allstar Performance, ARP Bolts, Boyne Machine Company, Carbon Green BioEnergy, Dirty Girl Racewear, Growth Energy, Hoosier Racing Tires, Horsepower Innovations, Iroquois Bio-Energy, Isky Racing Cams, Keyser Manufacturing, Lane Automotive, Michigan Corn Growers Association, Motor City Racing Promotions, NUVU Fuels, Pace Performance, Poet Bio-Refining, Quarter Master, QuickCar Racing Products, Shirtworks Racewear &


About the American Ethanol Late Model Tour

Founded in 2015, the American Ethanol Late Model Tour was created as a prominent touring series for Dirt Late Models in the Great Lakes / Midwestern United States and is one of the fastest growing motorsports tours in the country. In 2017, the AELMT, featuring DIRTcar Racing UMP Late Models, will race in 14 events within three states, including two of those races, which will pay a cool $10,000 to Win (Wednesday, June 14th at Merritt Speedway & Saturday, October 7th at Berlin Raceway). The home state of Michigan is well represented with 10 events while the surrounding states of Indiana (Three races) and Ohio (One event) are also represented with future plans to expand within and outside of those three key states.


About American Ethanol

American Ethanol is a partnership between Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association and is a collaborative-effort marketing campaign to increase awareness of the reliability, performance capabilities and affordability of American made E15 Ethanol. Growth Energy, an ethanol industry group, and the National Corn Growers Association formed the American Ethanol partnership which highlights E15, a high-performance fuel, providing the same drivability with increased engine performance as regular gasoline. It’s a 15% Ethanol blend made with American ethanol from corn grown in our nation’s heartland and an 85% Gas blend. After extensive testing, NASCAR adopted the fuel for use in all three of their national racing series in 2011. The race teams and engine builders were heavily involved in the transition process, and have since reported high praise for the fuel, which boosts horsepower while reducing emissions. For more information about American Ethanol, go to:


Official Results (Race #2 – 36 Cars) – Wednesday-Thursday, June 14-15th, 2017 – Merritt Speedway – Lake City, Michigan
3rd Annual Merritt Showdown presented by Don’s Auto Clinic – Don’s Auto Clinic 50


American Ethanol Feature (Don’s Auto Clinic 50): 1. (2) 27 Eric Spangler, 2. (3) 6m Dona Marcoullier, 3. (11) m14 Brandon Thirlby, 4. (1) 23v Ryan VanderVeen, 5. (6) 91 Rusty Schlenk, 6. (15) 9r Curtis Roberts, 7. (7) 87 Rich Neiser, 8. (5) 49 Brian Ruhlman, 9. (22) 2 Travis Stemler, 10. (16) 33x Greg Gokey, 11. (18) 72 Kyle Borgman, 12. (4) 79 Nick Kurtz, 13. (8) 94 Bill Bray, 14. (14) 1 Michael Luberda, 15. (9) 21t Derek Thebo ®, 16. (21) 3 Chad Foster Sr., 17. (12) 9* Jesse Playter, 18. (19) 44 Matt Shipley ®, 19. (17) 4 Jason Playter Jr., 20. (13) 21 Rich Bell, 21. (25) 33 Bobby Timmer, 22. (26) 16s Mike Staszak, 23. (10) 25cb Chris Brindley, 24. (20) 51 Steve Fairbanks, 25. (24) 1r Todd Rosebrugh, 26. (23) 87k Josh Knoll


Did Not Start: 77 Steve Kester, x3 Dan Wallace ®, 111 Curt Spalding


(Lap Leaders: 27 Eric Spangler 1-9, 6m Dona Marcoullier 10-11, 27 Eric Spangler 12-50 – Cautions=3)


Did Not Transfer: 4t Andrew Terrill, 16 Garrett Wiles, 21a Logan Arntz, 73 Logan Love, 34 Herb Reich, 21s Tom Sprague Jr., 32 Dave Bowen


NUVU Fuels Last Chance Race #1 (12 Laps / Top 2 Transfer): 1. (1) 9r Curtis Roberts, 2. (2) 4 Jason Playter Jr., 3. (4) 44 Matt Shipley ®, 4. (3) 4t Andrew Terrill, 5. (5) 16 Garrett Wiles ®, 6. (6) 87k Josh Knoll, 7. (7) 1r Todd Rosebrugh, 8. (10) 34 Herb Reich, 9. (9) 33 Bobby Timmer, 10 (8) 16 Mike Staszak


Horsepower Innovations Last Chance Race #2 (12 Laps / Top 2 Transfer): 1. (4) 33x Greg Gokey, 2. (4) 72 Kyle Borgman, 3. (5) 51 Steve Fairbanks, 4. (2) 2 Travis Stemler, 5. (6) 21a Logan Arntz, 6. (7) 3 Chad Foster Sr., 7. (9) 73 Logan Love, 8. (8) 21s Tom Sprague Jr., 9. (10) 32 Dave Bowen, 10. (1) 111 Curt Spalding

Carbon Green BioEnergy Heat Race #1 (10 Laps / Top 4 Transfer): 1. (3) 6m Dona Marcoullier, 2. (1) 79 Nick Kurtz, 3. (2) 77 Steve Kester, 4. (5) m14 Brandon Thirlby, 5. (4) 9r Curtis Roberts, 6. (8) 4t Andrew Terrill, 7. (7) 16 Garrett Wiles ®, 8. (6) 1r Todd Rosebrugh, 9. (9) 33 Bobby Timmer Heat Race #2 (10 Laps / Top 4 Transfer): 1. (2) 87 Rich Neiser, 2. (3) 91 Rusty Schlenk, 3. (1) 21t Derek Thebo ®, 4. (9) 9* Jesse Playter ®, 5. (7) 4 Jason Playter Jr., 6. (4) 44 Matt Shipley ®, 7. (5) 87k Josh Knoll, 8. (8) 16 Mike Staszak, 9. (6) 34 Herb Reich

Growth Energy Heat Race #3 (10 Laps / Top 4 Transfer): 1. (2) 94 Bill Bray, 2. (4) 49 Brian Ruhlman, 3. (1) 25cb Chris Brindley, 4. (3) 21 Rich Bell, 5. (9) 111 Curt Spalding, 6. (5) 33x Greg Gokey, 7. (6) 51 Steve Fairbanks, 8. (8) 3 Chad Foster Sr., 9. (7) 73 Logan Love


Michigan Corn Growers Heat Race #4 (10 Laps / Top 4 Transfer): 1. (4) 27 Eric Spangler, 2. (5) 23v Ryan VanderVeen, 3. (2) x3 Dan Wallace ®, 4. (1) 1 Michael Luberda, 5. (3) 2 Travis Stemler, 6. (8) 72 Kyle Borgman, 7. (7) 21a Logan Arntz, 8. (6) 21s Tom Sprague Jr., 9. (9) 32 Dave Bowen

American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 1): 1. 9r Curtis Roberts 15.345 (ISKY Racing Cams Fast Qualifier), 2. 6m Dona Marcoullier 15.438, 3. 77 Steve Kester 15.598, 4. 79 Nick Kurtz 15.610, 5. m14 Brandon Thirlby 15.635, 6. 1r Todd Rosebrugh 15.778, 7. 16 Garrett Wiles ® 15.926, 8. 4t Andrew Terrill 16.016, 9. 33 Bobby Timmer 16.032


American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 2): 1. 44 Matt Shipley ® 15.521, 2. 91 Rusty Schlenk 15.532, 3. 87 Rich Neiser 15.673, 4. 21t Derek Thebo ® 15.762, 5. 87k Josh Knoll 15.804, 6. 34 Herb Reich 15.814, 7. 4 Jason Playter Jr. 15.878, 8. 16 Mike Staszak 16.045, 9. 9* Jesse Playter No Time


American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 3): 1. 49 Brian Ruhlman 15.444, 2. 21 Rich Bell 15.672, 3. 94 Bill Bray 15.673, 4. 25cb Chris Brindley 15.777, 5. 33x Greg Gokey 15.828, 6. 51 Steve Fairbanks 15.876, 7. 73 Logan Love 16.026, 8. 3 Chad Foster Sr. 16.050, 9. 111 Curt Spalding 16.254


American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 4): 1. 27 Eric Spangler 15.556, 2 Travis Stemler 15.661, 3. X3 Dan Wallace ® 15.675, 4. 1 Michael Luberda 15.706, 5. 23v Ryan VanderVeen, 6. 21s Tom Sprague Jr. 15.799, 7. 21a Logan Arntz 15.820, 8. 72 Kyle Borgman 15.866, 9. 32 Dave Bowen 16.061


Contingency Awards:

QuickCar Racing Products Rookie of the Race: 21t Derek Thebo

Allstar Performance Hard-Charger Award: 2 Travis Stemler

Aeroquip Halfway Leader: 27 Eric Spangler

ARP Most Laps Led: 27 Eric Spangler
Driven Racing Oil P3: m14 Brandon Thirlby

Keyser Manufacturing P4: 23v Ryan VanderVeen

Shirtworks Apparel P5: 91 Rusty Schlenk

Dirty Girl Racewear P10: 79 Nick Kurtz

ISKY Racing Cams Fast Qualifier: 9r Curtis Roberts

American Ethanol Performer of the Race: 87 Rich Neiser

Hoosier Racing Tire Hard-Luck Award: 21 Rich Bell

Quarter Master Move of the Race: 27 Eric Spangler

Lane Automotive Member A: 6m Dona Marcoullier

Hoosier Racing Tire Member B: 4t Andrew Terrill

Please reload

Featured Posts