Brandon Thirlby Ends Two-Year Drought In The American Ethanol Late Model Tour; Wins NUVU Fuels 40 At I-96 Speedway

July 29, 2017

First ever appearances in the Hoosier State next for the AELMT with Plymouth Speedway & Baer Field Motorsports Park

Lake Odessa, Michigan (Friday, July 28th, 2017): After a well-deserved vacation, the American Ethanol Late Model Tour was back in action with the third and final appearance of the 2017 racing season at I-96 Speedway on Friday, July 28th. The cars and stars of the premier DIRTcar UMP Late Model Tour in the Great Lakes / Midwestern United States partook in the running of the NUVU Fuels 40 at the fast 4/10s (0.400) mile high-banked dirt oval located east of Grand Rapids and west of Lansing in Lake Odessa, Michigan. It had been since July 2nd since the AELMT contingent was in action, a span of 26 days, but the wait was well worth it for the “Traverse City Terror” Brandon Thirlby, who would score his first AELMT Feature of the season and first since the Inaugural 2015 campaign.


“I just can't say enough about this Rocket Chassis & Pro Power Motor under the hood. It's been dialed in the past couple of weeks with some strong runs with the (DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals) Hell Tour and then we clicked off a win last week and another big one tonight.” The elated 30-year-old driver of the popular #m14 Thirlby Automotive/Rocket Chassis/Pro Power Racing Engines stated after the race. “The track was phenomenal as always. I got a little scared a couple of times though when there were a few cautions back to back. I knew Rusty (Schlenk) and Dona (Marcoullier) were coming and when you're the leader and there are that many cautions in a row, your kind of a sitting duck. Just glad we were able to hold on.” He added.


After the Redraw of the top three finishers within the three Heat Races, it would be Ryan VanderVeen and former two-time I-96 Speedway Track Champion, Eric Spangler leading the field to Chief Starter, Marc Henry’s green flag. Spangler would beat VanderVeen to the first corner to grab the early lead while the rest of the pack scrambled for position behind him. Thirlby, who earlier in the night broke the AELMT Track Record in ISKY Racing Cams Qualifying, started fourth after the Redraw and quickly charged his way up to Spangler’s back bumper. On lap six, Thirlby made, what would be the winning pass for the lead and would try to check out and get away from the rest of the field.


Defending AELMT Champion and current points leader, Dona Marcoullier and 2010 DIRTcar UMP Late Model National Champion, Rusty Schlenk, who started third and ninth respectively, began their charge towards the front. At halfway, they were trailing Thirlby, who hadn’t scored an AELMT Feature win since June 26th, 2015 at Mt. Pleasant Speedway (MI), a span of 22 AELMT events. Thirlby, who did have three weekly Feature triumphs going into the night, wasn’t to be denied on this night as the Traverse City, Michigan standout, the 2012 Track Champion at I-96, would get away from Marcoullier and the rest of the field to score his coveted second career Feature win in AELMT competition and first of the 2017 racing season.


Marcoullier finished second for his 12th consecutive top five finish to extend his already healthy points lead while VanderVeen rounded out the podium finishers by finishing third. Brian Ruhlman came home in fourth ahead of 2015 AELMT Champion, Rich Neiser, who scored his first top five finish of the year and completed the top five in the process. Travis Stemler scored a sixth place showing as 17-year-old Logan Arntz picked up a career high seventh place showing. Kevin Reeve finished a career high eighth while C.J. Reisbig, in his first career AELMT start, advanced 10 positions to score a ninth place effort. Phil Ausra, who started 18th, completed the final top 10.


The American Ethanol Late Model Tour will venture into a new state for the first time in the tours’ three-year history with the next two events both happening in the Hoosier State. The first of those two straight races in the great state of Indiana will occur on Saturday August 5th as the immaculate Plymouth Speedway, located south of South Bend in Plymouth, Indiana will host the Iroquois BioEnergy 40. This event will also be the first of two races at Plymouth as the second and final appearance will be on Saturday, September 16th before the AELMT finish the season with two straight races at Berlin Raceway on Saturday, September 23rd for $5,000 to win and then on Saturday, October 7th for the $10,000 to win 2017 American Ethanol Championships.


This event will not only be the first ever appearance by the AELMT, but this race will be only the third time ever that Late Models have raced on the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked dirt oval since the track converted over to dirt in 2013. In the two other Late Model events at Plymouth, Mike Spatola won a Sunoco American Late Model Series race there back on August 9th, 2014 over a trip of former AELMT Winners, J.R. Hotovy, Curtis Roberts and Brandon Thirlby. Back on June 29th of this season, World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series points leader, Brandon Sheppard scored the win in a DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals Hell Tour event over National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee, Scott Bloomquist.


Then just 11 days later, the AELMT contingent will head east and south to the tight ¼ (0.250) mile slightly banked dirt oval of Baer Field Motorsports Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana on a special Wednesday, August 16th for the Summit City Late Model Nationals. The newly constructed ¼ mile dirt oval is located within the tracks existing ½ mile & 3/8s mile pavement layouts and this will be the fourth event held on the new dirt track. This event will also mark the second time ever that DIRTcar UMP Late Models will have raced on the new track as back on July 26th, AELMT standout, Eric Spangler dominated a Sunoco American Late Model Series event over Devin Shiels and Jon Henry.


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 #8 – 25 Cars) – Friday, July 28th, 2017 – I-96 Speedway – Lake Odessa, Michigan

Ausra Equipment & Supply / Michigan Corn Growers Association Night at the Races – NUVU Fuels 40

American Ethanol Feature (NUVU Fuels 40): 1. (4) m14 Brandon Thirlby, 2. (3) 6m Dona Marcoullier, 3. (1) 23v Ryan VanderVeen, 4. (6) 49 Brian Ruhlman, 5. (12) 87 Rich Neiser, 6. (7) 2 Travis Stemler, 7. (5) 21a Logan Arntz, 8. (14) 117 Kevin Reeve, 9. (19) 9 C.J. Reisbig, 10. (18) 15 Phil Ausra, 11. (2) 27 Eric Spangler, 12. (20) 52 Brad Harden, 13. (9) cj1 Rusty Schlenk, 14. (13) 7m Brad Mann, 15. (8) 21b Rich Bell, 16. (16) 0x Zack Olger, 17. (17) 4 Jason Playter Jr., 18. (11) 111 Curt Spalding, 19. (15) 12 Scott Fisk, 20. (10) 79 Nick Kurtz, 21. (21) 44 Matt Shipley ®


(Lap Leaders: 27 Eric Spangler 1-5, m14 Brandon Thirlby 6-40 – Cautions=5)


NUVU Fuels Last Chance Race (12 Laps / Top 5 Transfer): 1. (6) 0x Zack Olger, 2. (2) 4 Jason Playter Jr., 3. (1) 15 Phil Ausra, 4. (5) 9. C.J. Reisbig, 5. (9) 52 Brad Harden, 6. (7) 80 Linc Stevens, 7. (4) 9* Jesse Playter ®, 8. (3) 2j Bry Johnson, 9. (8) 44 Matt Shipley ® - Did Not Start: 13 Justin Pauley  


Carbon Green BioEnergy Heat Race #1 (10 Laps / Top 5 Transfer): 1. (3) cj1 Rusty Schlenk, 2. (4) m14 Brandon Thirlby, 3. (2) 21a Logan Arntz, 4. (1) 79 Nick Kurtz, 5. (8) 7m Brad Mann, 6. (7) 15 Phil Ausra, 7. (6) 9* Jesse Playter ®, 8. (5) 0x Zack Olger, 9. (9) 52 Brad Harden Heat Race #2 (10 Laps / Top 5 Transfer): 1. (4) 2 Travis Stemler, 2. (2) 49 Brian Ruhlman, 3. (3) 23v Ryan VanderVeen, 4. (5) 111 Curt Spalding, 5. (6) 117 Kevin Reeve, 6. (8) 4 Jason Playter Jr., 7. (1) 13 Justin Pauley, 8. (7) 80 Linc Stevens


Growth Energy Heat Race #3 (10 Laps / Top 5 Transfer): 1. (2) 21b Rich Bell, 2. (4) 27 Eric Spangler, 3. (3) 6m Dona Marcoullier, 4. (1) 87 Rich Neiser, 5. (5) 12 Scott Fisk, 6. (6) 2j Bry Johnson, 7. (7) 9 C.J. Reisbig – Did Not Start: 44 Matt Shipley


American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 1): 1. m14 Brandon Thirlby 15.972 (ISKY Racing Cams Fast Qualifier / New Track Record), 2. cj1 Rusty Schlenk 16.080, 3. 21a Logan Arntz 16.565, 4. 79 Nick Kurtz 16.839, 5. 0x Zack Olger 17.033, 6. 9* Jesse Playter ® 17.044, 7. 15 Phil Ausra 17.090, 8. 7m Brad Mann 17.500, 9. 52 Brad Harden 19.511


American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 2): 1. 2 Travis Stemler 16.242, 2. 23v Ryan VanderVeen 16.507, 3. 49 Brian Ruhlman 16.754, 4. 13 Justin Pauley 17.131, 5. 111 Curt Spalding 17.137, 6. 117 Kevin Reeve 17.311, 7. 80 Linc Stevens 17.577, 8. 4 Jason Playter Jr. 17.649


American Ethanol Qualifying (Group 3): 1. 27 Eric Spangler 16.584, 2. 6m Dona Marcoullier 16.606, 3. 21b Rich Bell 16.955, 4. 87 Rich Neiser 16.965, 5. 12 Scott Fisk 17.095, 6. 2j Bry Johnson 17.245, 7. 44 Matt Shipley ® 17.599, 8. 9 C.J. Reisbig 17.736


Contingency Awards:

QuickCar Racing Products Rookie of the Race: 44 Matt Shipley

Allstar Performance Hard-Charger Award: 52 Brad Harden

Aeroquip Halfway Leader: m14 Brandon Thirlby

ARP Most Laps Led: m14 Brandon Thirlby
Driven Racing Oil P3: 23v Ryan VanderVeen

Keyser Manufacturing P4: 49 Brian Ruhlman

Shirtworks Apparel P5: 87 Rich Neiser

Dirty Girl Racewear P10: 49 Brian Ruhlman

ISKY Racing Cams Fast Qualifier: 27 Eric Spangler

American Ethanol Performer of the Race: 87 Rich Neiser

Hoosier Racing Tire Hard-Luck Award: cj1 Rusty Schlenk

Quarter Master Move of the Race: 6m Dona Marcoullier

Lane Automotive Member A: 2 Travis Stemler

Hoosier Racing Tire Member B: 9* Jesse Playter



Please reload

Featured Posts