VanWormer Victorious Again; Mielke Back in Victory Lane at Berlin

September 25, 2018

Marne, Michigan (Monday, September 24, 2018) - Race fans and crews alike filled Berlin Raceway on the first official day of Autumn for Round Two of Berlin Goes Dirt featuring the American Ethanol Late Model Tour (AELMT) and the American Ethanol Modified Tour Presented by Allstar Performance (AEMODT).  For the second week in a row, nearly 60 cars got set to compete between both American Ethanol Tours.


The night began with a dusty version of Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants qualifying for the AEMODT.  Reduced amounts of water were applied to Berlin Raceway throughout the day in an effort to assure a smoother racing surface than the week before.  While conditions weren't favorable, they were tolerable for competitors to turn laps in group qualifying.  Three groups qualified, with group one lead by David Mielke clocking in at a 20.313, while Jeffery Erickson Jr. paced group two at a 20.180 and Jacob Poel set the pace for group three at a 20.630.  Erickson Jr. picked up the Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants fast qualifier award, his career first with the AEMODT.


For the AELMT, conditions had continued to dry out on the racing surface, resulting in thicker and heavier dust clouds.  As a result, officials determined that in the interest of safety, the AELMT would participate in single car qualifying, also sectioned in three groups.  Group one was led by Chad Finley who posted an 18.752, Mielke clocked in at a 19.035 for group two, and Jeep VanWormer set the pace for group three with a 19.014.  For Finley, Saturday was also his first career Motul Motor Oil and Lubricants fast qualifier award.


Following qualifying, Berlin Raceway staff went to work in an effort to better the surface for the remainder of the night's events.  After roughly a one-hour delay, officials determined the track was ready for AEMODT Allstar Performance Heat Race one.  David Mielke jumped out to the early lead and never looked back in the race that went green to checkered without incident.  It was clear, early in the race that the track had improved, as Mielke posted his best lap time by the halfway point of the ten-lap race, turning an 18.1 second lap, an over two second improvement from qualifying.  Poet BioFuels Heat Race number two was next for the AEMODT; that was also went without incident as Jeffery Erickson Jr. picked up where he left off winning the heat race in dominating style.  Finally, NUVU Fuels Heat Race number three took to the Raceway.  Competition was slowed only once when Mike Peterson's number three found the outside wall in turn one on the opening lap.  After the complete restart, Joe Rokos went on to collect the heat race win.


For the AELMT, Allstar Performance Heat Race number one was slowed a couple of times for heavy impacts.  The first happened on lap five when Chad Finley's number 42 sailed into turn three and never slowed as he slammed the outside wall.  Finley would later say that the throttle was stuck open, and the impact would end his season.  Then, on lap eight, current points leader Brandon Thirlby was knocked out of the race when Jarred Guinn got out of shape and collected Thirlby who was attempting to pass on the inside. The incident seemingly damaged the rear-end of the M14 car. From there, Travis Stemler went on to collect the win.


Michigan Corn Heat Race number two for the AELMT was fairly uneventful as the only caution was for Jason Playter, Jr who spun in turn three and hit the outside wall.  From there, Rich Bell went on to collect the win. Heat Race number three was slowed just once as Jimmy Gallagher clipped the front stretch wall, slowing his machine through turn two.  Dona Marcoullier lead all the way to pick up the win.


Next on the agenda, the running of the QuaterMaster Clutches Last Chance Qualifier.  The race was slowed on the opening lap when Garrett Rons and Steve Shellenberger got together on the back stretch and spun.  The caution waved again on lap three when an apparent mechanical failure caused Trevor McCoy to spin in turn two.  From there, Any Galgoci continued to set the pace and went on to collect the win.  For the AELMT's Lane Automotive Last Chance Qualifier, the caution flag only waved once when Jason Playter, Jr. lost power coming down the main straightaway and wasn't able to make it to the pits.  From there, Phil Ausra went on to collect the win.



The AEMODT's Bilstein Shock Absorbers 30 was the first feature event of the evening to roll onto the Berlin Raceway, as drivers did battle for a $2,000 pay day.  David Mielke jumped out to the early lead, separating himself from Jacob Poel and the rest of the field, opening up over a straightaway lead while lapping cars all the way through the 11th spot before the first caution flag of the evening which flew on lap 25 when Chase Burda, a lapped car, and John McClure got together, while McClure was battling for third with Erickson and Rokos.  Dave Baker slid into the incident as well, making contact with Rokos ending his night; Baker, Burda and McClure were able to continue.  Poel tried to mount a charge to get around Mielke in the final five laps, but at the drop of the green, Mielke began to pull away again, and went on to the win.


For the AELMT, they took on the Berlin Raceway for the $5,000 to win 40.  Last week's feature winner Jeep VanWormer found the number one Frisbee during the redraw and led the field to green, alongside Rich Neiser.  The first caution flag of the night flew when David Hilliker spun down into the infield front stretch wall.  A red flag was displayed for a medical situation in the infield that lasted just over five minutes before the action resumed.  The next and final caution flag flew at the halfway point when Matt Shipley had a mechanical failure and spun in turns one and two trying to get to pit road.  From there, VanWormer continues to lead the field by several seconds as he went on to back-to-back victories at Berlin Raceway.


Next up for the American Ethanol Tours is Round Three - The Championships from Berlin Raceway.  In the scheduled final weekend of the 2018 season, Tour drivers will again race for an increased payday, with the AELMT going for $6,000 to win and the AEMODT going for $2,500 to win and $250 to start.  The American Ethanol Tours will also be joined by the Engine Pro Sprints on Dirt Presented by ARP.  If needed, the event has a rain date of Saturday, October 6th.


For tickets, gate times, and more information, log onto  Stay up to date with your favorite Tour by logging onto or, and join the conversation on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and twitter, by using the hashtag aelmt or aemodt.






1. 55 Jeep WanWormer

2. 87 Rich Neiser

3. 2 Travis Stemler

4. 87M David Mielke

5. 21B Rich Bell

6. 6M Dona Marcoullier

7. 79 Nick Kurtz

8. 21A Logan Arntz

9. CJ1 Rusty Schlenk

10. 1 Greg Gokey

11. M14 Brandon Thirbly

12. 23V Ryan VanderVeen

13. 45 Kevin Reeve

14. 78 Drew Wilkerson

15. 27 Eric Spangler

16. 15 Phil Ausra

17. 94 Bill Bray

18. 44 Matt Shipley

19. 9J Jared Guinn

20. 21 David Hilliker

21. 13 JR Hotovy


Last Chance Qualifier

1. 15 Phil Ausra

2. 94 Bill Bray

3. 23V Ryan VanderVeen

4. 44 Matt Shipley

5. 78 Drew Wilkerson

6. 11 Rachel Carpenter

7. M14 Brandon Thirlby

8. 25 Jimmy Gallagher

9. RH21 Gregg Haskell

10. 30 Robert Bray

11. 4 Jason Playter Jr.

12. 66 Kurt Mesman  


Heat Race 3

1. 6M Dona Marcoullier

2. CJ1 Rusty Schlenk

3. 55 Jeep VanWormer

4. 79 Nick Kurtz

5. 45 Kevin Reeve

6. 23V Ryan VanderVeen

7. 78 Drew Wilkerson

8. 25 Jimmy Gallagher

9. 66 Kurt Mesman


Heat Race 2

1. 21B Rich Bell

2. 87M David Mielke

3. 27 Eric Spangler

4. 21 David Hilliker

5. 13 JR Hotovy

6. 94 Bill Bray

7. 11 Rachel Carpenter

8. 30 Robert Bray

9. 4 Jason Playter Jr.

10. 44 Matt Shipley



Heat Race 1

1. 2 Travis Stemler

2. 87 Rich Neiser

3. 21A Logan Arntz

4. 9J Jared Guinn

5. 1 Greg Gokey

6. 15 Phil Ausra

7. M14 Brandon Thirlby

8. 7M Brad Mann

9. RH21 Gregg Haskell

10. 42 Chad Finley



1. 87 David Mielke

2. 82 Jacob Poel

3. 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

4. 19 Chad Bauer

5. 47 Collin Thirlby

6. 15 Dave Baker

7. 12 John McClure

8. 4J Paul Johnson

9. 23 Lucas Hubbell

10. 71 Derek Passenier

11. 87K Josh Knoll

12. 13 Andy Galgoci

13. 16 Chad May

14. 77D Anthony Deming

15. 9 Garrett Rons

16. 18 Chase Burda

17. 46 Dave Schmidt

18. 77 Joe Rokos

19. 80 Dave Knowlton

20. 57 Michael Haynes  

21. 24N Kyle Novak


Last Chance Qualifier

1. 13 Andy Galgoci

2. 46 David Schmidt

3. 18 Chase Burda

4. 9 Garrett Rons

5. 80 Dave Knowlton

6. 60 Nate Wilber

7. 77D Anthony Deming

8. 29 Steve Shellenberger

9. 81 Rick Swartout

10. 47 Don McNabb

11. 11 Josh Loomis

12. 88 Trevor McCoy


Heat Race 3

1. 77 Joe Rokos

2. 82 Jacob Poel

3. 12 John McClure

4. 87k Josh Knoll

5. 57 Michael Haynes

6. 29 Steve Shellenberger

7. 60 Nate Wilber

8. 81 Rick Swarout

9. 47 Don McNabb

10. 3 Mike Peterson


Heat Race 2

1. 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

2. 71 Derek Passenier

3. 15 Dave Baker

4. 47 Colin Thirlby

5. 16 Chad May

6. 13 Andy Galgoci

7. 9 Garrett Rons

8. 80 Dave Knowlton

9. 88 Trevor McCoy


Heat Race 1

1. 87 David Mielke

2. 19 Chad Bauer

3. 24N Kyle Novak

4. 4J Paul Johnson

5. 23 Lucas Hubbell

6. 418 Chase Burda

7. 46 Dave Schmidt

8. 11 Josh Loomis

9. 77D Anthony Deming



Awards (AELMT):

Allstar Performance Hard Charger: M14 Brandon Thirlby

ARP Most Laps Led: *55 Jeep VanWormer

Comp Cams Halfway Leader: *55 Jeep VanWormer

Dirty Girl Racewear P10: 1 Greg Gokey

Quarter Master Move of the Race: *87 Rich Neiser

Motul Motor Oil Fast Qualifier: 42 Chad Finley

Lane Automotive Member A: 2 Travis Stemler

Quick Car Member B: 11 Rachel Carpenter

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


Awards (AEMODT):

Allstar Performance Hard Charger: 77D Anthony Deming

ARP Most Laps Led: 87 David Mielke

Comp Cams Halfway Leader: 87 David Mielke

Dirty Girl Racewear P10: *71 Derek Passenier

Quarter Master Move of the Race: 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

Motul Motor Oil Fast Qualifier: 1E Jeffery Erickson Jr.

Lane Automotive Member A: 82 Jacob Poel

Quick Car Member B: 19 Chad Bauer

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



Story By: Motorsports Broadcasting of Michigan

Photo By: Jim DenHamer

Video By: HighVista Videos

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