VanWormer Fights Back to Victory Lane; Erickson Jr. Claims First Career Win

September 17, 2018


American Ethanol Tour competitors for Berlin Goes Dirt, Round One.  For the American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT), 28 drivers made the trip to try and take home the honor of winning at Berlin, while 30 teams with the American Ethanol Modified Tour Presented by Allstar Performance (AEMODT) got set to do battle.  Many teams were faced with the task of not only battling their fellow drivers but their cars and the racetrack.


The evening started with Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants Qualifying for the AEMODT, with three groups set to take the Raceway.  Group one was led by Joe Rokos who clocked in at an 18.264 second lap time, while group two was paced by David Mielke at a 17.282, and the final group lead by Jacob Poel, with a 18.117.  Mielke’s lap was good enough for not only the Motul Fast Qualifier Award but he also broke the AEMODT track record at Berlin Raceway, set last year by Curt Spalding, nearly a whole second slower at an 18.231.


For the AELMT, they also rolled three groups for Motul Qualifying from Berlin.  Group one was paced by Dona Marcoullier, who made his return to competition for the first time since July, at a 16.381.  Brandon Thirlby set the pace for group two with a 15.871 second lap time, while group three was led by Chad Finley with a 16.337.  For Thirlby, who picked up the Motul Fast Qualifier Award, he also broke the AELMT Berlin Raceway track record set by Jeep VanWormer in 2017 at a 16.698, and collected his 12th career AELMT Fast Qualifier award, and fourth of the season.


Heat races were next for the AEMODT and they ran fairly uneventful, with Allstar Performance Heat Race number one first on track. Joe Rokos took the lead on lap four and never looked back, in the race that went caution free, to pick up the win.  In Poet BioFuels Heat Race number two, David Mielke had to work his way by John McClure on the opening lap to pick up the win.  In NUVU Fuels Heat Race number three, one caution flag flew on lap three as the 42 of Bob Baldwin spun in turn one; from there Curt Spalding went on to collect the win.


The intensity began to heat up as the sun went down for the AELMT heat races, as Allstar Performance Heat Race number one was slowed two times.  The first caution flew during the opening lap, when race control (positioned on the East side of the Raceway, looking West) couldn’t see the racetrack due to the combination of dust and the setting sun.  After a seven-minute delay in the program for track work and to allow the sun to go behind the tree line, racing resumed.  Another opening lap caution came out for Jason Playter Jr., who spun in turn two, before Travis Stemler went on to collect the win.  Michigan Corn Heat Race number two and Heat Race number three went green to checkered with no incidents, as Greg Gokey and Rich Bell picked up the wins.


Last Chance Qualifiers were needed for both American Ethanol Tours to set the field.  For the AEMODT, a pair of lap one cautions slowed the race, the worst of which involved Donnie Roberts, Darryl Lehn, and Mike Peterson.  The three made contact on a restart after Anthony Deming spun, turning Roberts into Lehn, sending him back toward the outside wall collecting Peterson - Roberts was the only driver able to continue from the crash.  During the next restart, Deming’s efforts came to an end when he lost a left rear tire in turns three and four, bringing out yet another caution flag.  From there, the 12 lap LCQ went green, as Josh Knoll picked up the win.


The AELMT Lane Automotive Last Chance Qualifier also was slowed multiple times for on track incidents, as they all tried to make the $4,000-to-win main event.  All the cautions, however, were for single car spins that included Kevin Reeve and Bryant Dickinson.  Dickinson would slow again in turn four before going pit-side.  Jeep VanWormer, who pulled off during his heat race, went on to win.


After a brief intermission, it was time for the running of the AEMODT Lane Automotive 30.  Andy Galgoci and Jeffery Erickson Jr. led the field to green, and it was Erickson Jr. who jumped out to the early lead.  By lap 10, Erickson had caught the tail of the field and was beginning to pick off back markers when a caution flag flew for debris in turn four.  This allowed a hard charging David Mielke to pull within striking distance.  On the restart, however, Erickson shot away from the field and left Mielke with some work to do if he wanted to challenge for a win.  Erickson again lead the field into lap traffic but by this time Mielke had worked within five car-lengths of Erickson’s 1E machine.  Going into turn three, Erickson went high around a lap car, leaving the bottom open for Mielke, his preferred line through the corner.  Unfortunately for Mielke, he ran out of real estate under Garrett Rons and was forced to lock the brakes, spinning himself to the infield and causing a caution flag.  Two more cautions would wave during the final laps of the race, with Paul Johnson going up in smoke on lap 20 and Cody Bauer losing a left rear wheel on lap 24.  The cautions wouldn’t phase Erickson, who went on to collect his first ever win with the AEMODT over Joe Rokos and Chad Bauer.




For the AELMT, a rough race track proved to be too tough to tame for a number of drivers throughout the course of the 40.  Dona Marcoullier led the field to green in the 6M machine before caution flags began to plague the race.  By lap nine, three caution flags had flown and seven cars had went to the pits with mechanical problems, including Nick Kurtz, David Mielke and Ryan VanderVeen.  From there, cautions were kept at bay for quite some time as Marcoullier continued to set the pace, feeling pressure though from drivers Rich Bell and Jeep VanWormer.  For VanWormer, he had worked his way from 16th to 7th by lap nine, and was into the top five by the halfway point of the race.  The battle at the front though was short lived on both occasions, as lady luck was not on the side of the leader.  Bell made a bold move on the inside of Marcoullier coming out of turn four, taking the lead on lap 25. Without realizing, Bell blew a left front tire down the back stretch and slammed into the turn three wall, ending his night.  Just six laps later Marcoullier, who had retaken the lead, blew a right rear tire coming out of turn four bringing out another caution flag, setting up a nine-lap dash to the finish.  VanWormer was able to hold off a late race charge from Stemler going back-to-back at Berlin Raceway.


Next up for the American Ethanol Tours is Round Two of Berlin Goes Dirt on Saturday, September 22nd.  In round two, the stakes are increased for drivers in both Tours.  For the AEMODT, they’ll now race for a $2,000 payday in their 30-lap main event.  Not to be outdone, the AELMT will also race for an increased purse, doing battle for $5,000.  For tickets, gate times and more, be sure to log onto


For more on the American Ethanol Tours including results, standings and more, log onto your favorite Tour’s website ( or  Keep up with your favorite Tour on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and be sure to join the conversation by using the hastag AELMT or AEMODT.







1.55 Jeep VanWormer

2. 2 Travis Stemler

3. M14 Brandon Thirlby

4. 21A Logan Arntz

5. 87 Rich Neiser

6. 9J Jared Guinn

7. 94 Bill Bray

8. 1 Greg Gokey

9. 6M Dona Marcoullier

10. 27 Eric Spangler

11. 21B Rich Bell

12. 15 Phil Ausra

13. 12F Shannon Fisk

14. 23V Ryan VanderVeen

15. 6 Spencer Blake

16. 1W Michael Luberda

17. 4 Jason Playter Jr.

18. 71 Timmy Near

19. 42 Chad Finley

20. 79 Nick Kurtz

21. 87M David Mielke


Last Chance Qualifier

1. 55 Jeep VanWormer

2. 4 Jason Playter Jr.

3. 71 Timmy Near

4. 9J Jared Guinn

5. 1W Michael Luberda

6. 7M Brad Mann

7. 3 Scott Wenell

8. 01 Steve McClees

9. 5* Bryant Dickinson

10. 87M David Mielke

11. 45 Kevin Reeve


Heat 3

1. 21B Rich Bell

2. 27 Eric Spangler

3. 42 Chad Finley

4. 21A Logan Arntz

5. 6 Spence Blake

6. 9J Jarred Guinn

7. 71 Timmy Near

8. 7M Brad Mann

9. 5* Bryant Dickinson


Heat 2

1. 1 Greg Gokey

2. M14 Brandon Thirlby

3. 23V Ryan VanderVeen

4. 87 Rich Neiser

5. 12F Shannon Fisk

6. 87M David Mielke

7. 3 Scott Wenell

8. 01 Steve McClees


Heat 1

1. 2 Travis Stemler

2. 79 Nick Kurtz

3. 6M Dona Marcoullier

4. 15 Phil Ausra

5. 94 Bill Bray

6. 1W Michael Luberda

7. 4 Jason Playter Jr.

8. 25R Eddie Reyes

9. 45 Kevin Reeve

10. 55 Jeep VanWormer


Lane Automotive 30

1. 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

2. 77 Joe Rokos

3. 19 Chad Bauer

4. 47 Collin Thirlby

5. 42 Bob Baldwin

6. 82 Jacob Poel

7. 15X Rick Robinson Jr.  

8. 12 John McClure

9. 23 Luke Hubbell

10. 87K Josh Knoll

11. 71 Larry Passenier

12. 15 Dave Baker

13. 24N Kyle Novak

14. 9 Garrett Rons

15. 13 Andy Galgoci

16. 19x Cody Bauer

17. 87M David Mielke

18. 77D Anthony Deming

19. 4J Paul Johnson

20. 28 Mark Beard

21. 111 Curt Spalding


Last Chance Qualifier

1. 87K Josh Knoll

2. 42 Bob Baldwin

3. 4J Paul Johnson

4. 19X Cody Bauer

5. 9 Garrett Rons

6. 92 Caleb Kill

7. 80 David Knowlton

8. 46 Dave Schmidt

9. 63R Donnie Roberts

10. 95 Chuck Powell

11. 62 Daryl Lehn

12. 3 Mike Peterson

13. 77D Anthony Deming


Heat 3

1. 111 Curt Spalding

2. 82 Jacob Poel

3. 13 Andy Galgoci

4. 28 Mark Beard

5. 71 Larry Passenier

6. 4J Paul Johnson

7. 9 Garrett Rons

8. 42 Bob Baldwin

9. 77D Anthony Deming

10. 3 Mike Peterson

11. 63R Donnie Roberts


Heat 2

1. 87M David Mielke

2. 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

3. 12 John McClure

4. 19 Chad Bauer

5. 24N Kyle Novak

6. 95 Chuck Powell

7. 46 Dave Schmidt

8. 19X Cody Bauer

9. 32 Troy Ziegler


Heat 1

1. 77 Joe Rokos

2. 47 Collin Thirlby

3. 15 Dave Baker

4. 15X Rich Robinson Jr.

5. 23 Luke Hubbell

6. 87K Josh Knoll

7. 80 David Knowlton

8. 92 Caleb Kill

9. 62 Daryl Lehn


Awards (AELMT):

Allstar Performance Hard Charger: *55 Jeep VanWormer

ARP Most Laps Led: 6M Dona Marcoullier

Comp Cams Halfway Leader: 6M Dona Marcoullier

Dirty Girl Racewear P10: 27 Eric Spangler

Quarter Master Move of the Race: 21B Rich Bell

Motul Motor Oil Fast Qualifier: M14 Brandon Thirlby

Lane Automotive Member A: 2 Travis Stemler

Quick Car Member B: 7M Brad Mann

* = Non-Member, not eligible to receive award certificate


Awards (AEMODT)

Allstar Performance Hard Charger: 42 Bob Baldwin

ARP Most Laps Led: 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

Comp Cams Halfway Leader: 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

Dirty Girl Racewear P10: *87K Josh Knoll

Quarter Master Move of the Race: 42 Bob Baldwin

Motul Motor Oil Fast Qualifier: 87 David Mielke

Lane Automotive Member A: 77 Joe Rokos

Quick Car Member B: 63R Donnie Roberts

* = Non-Member, not eligible to receive award certificate



Story By: Motorsports Broadcasting of Michigan

Video By: Highvista Video

Photos By: Jim DenHamer



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