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Rusty Schlenk wins I-96

Rusty Schlenk

Schlenk Scores 25th Anniversary Sunoco American Late Model Series Opener / Eldora Washed Out
Career Win #28 for the Two-Time & Defending DIRTcar National Champion & Four-Time Series Champion

CONCORD, NC — Apr. 27, 2019 — The 25th anniversary season opener for the Sunoco American Late Model Series was on Friday, April 26 at I-96 Speedway, located east of Grand Rapids and west of Lansing in Lake Odessa, MI. The DIRTcar Late Model cars and stars of the longest running tour in the Great Lakes region of the United States kicked off their historic season at the fast 4/10s (0.400) mile high-banked dirt oval in West Michigan.

It was also the first time in series history that a season started in the Great Lakes State. At the end of the show on a cold and blustery evening, four-time series champion, Rusty Schlenk would emerge victorious for his 28th career win in the Sunoco ALMS. After starting in fifth, the McClure, OH veteran in his #cj1 Rayburn by RSR machine took the lead from pole-sitter, 19-year-old Logan Arntz on lap six of the 40-lap Feature and never looked back en route to his 28th career victory in the series and third at I-96 Speedway in Sunoco ALMS competition.

Arntz finished a career high second as two-time series champion, Brandon Thirlby, who started 17th, advanced 14 positions to complete the podium finishers in third. Travis Stemler and Chad Finley, who started 15th, completed the top five. Defending Sunoco ALMS Champion, Casey Noonan was sixth as Rich Bell, David Mielke, Chad Stapleton and Eric Spangler were the final top 10.

Thirlby out-qualified the 27-car field with a 15.985 = 90.084mph, just missing his own track record he set back on July 28, 2017 when he went a 15.972. Arntz, Ryan VanderVeen and Stapleton collected Heat Race victories while Finley scored the win in the Last Chance Race.

The Sunoco American Late Model Series’ 25th anniversary season was to continue at the famed Eldora Speedway (OH), located just east of the Indiana/Ohio state line in Rossburg, OH on Saturday, April 27. Unfortunately, persistent rain throughout the week as well as flooding in the immediate area of the facility forced track officials to cancel the tracks 66th season opener. This event will not be rescheduled.

The remaining two races for the Sunoco ALMS at Eldora Speedway are on Sunday, May 26 for the 49th running of the Johnny Appleseed Classic. Then on Sunday, September 1 it’s the 10th running of the Baltes Classic. The Labor Day Weekend event also serves as the final race of the 2019 racing season for the Sunoco ALMS as the 2019 Sunoco ALMS Champion will be crowned at the end of the Baltes Classic.

With opening weekend complete, the Sunoco American Late Model Series teams will now shift focus to the rest of the 25th anniversary season. For the next two events, they’ll head west to the Prairie State for a pair of $10,000 to win events and It all begins on Friday, May 10 at Farmer City Raceway (IL) for the Farmer City 74.

The next night, Saturday, May 11 is a trip to Fairbury American Legion Speedway (IL) for the FALS Frenzy. Both races will be co-sanctioned by the MARS Racing Series. In 2018, Shannon Babb won both races with the Farmer City 74 occurring on May 11 while the FALS Frenzy was postponed to August 11. At Farmer City, it was, amazingly, Babb’s first career win in the Sunoco ALMS.

For more information about the Sunoco American Late Model Series, visit the series website, which is located at: americanlatemodelseries.com. You can also follow the series on all Social Media outlets on Facebook and Twitter via the DIRTcar Racing pages using the hashtag #ALMS.

Sunoco American Late Model Series – I-96 Speedway (MI) – Friday, April 26, 2019 (27 Teams)

A Feature 1 (40 Laps): 1. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk [5]; 2. 21-Logan Arntz [1]; 3. M14-Brandon Thirlby [17]; 4. 2-Travis Stemler [3]; 5. 42-Chad Finley [15]; 6. 1N-Casey Noonan [7]; 7. 21B-Rich Bell [6]; 8. 87-David Mielke [10]; 9. 32-Chad Stapleton [2]; 10. 27S-Eric Spangler [4]; 11. 12-Scott Fisk [14]; 12. 15-Phil Ausra [20]; 13. 22-Austin Burns [16]; 14. 8-Rob Anderzack [9]; 15. 79-Nick Kurtz [13]; 16. 87N-Rich Neiser [8]; 17. 20-Chad White [12]; 18. 53-Hillard Miller [21]; 19. 41-Jason Playter Jr. [18]; 20. 50-Ryan Missler [11]; 21. 16-Garrett Wiles [19]; (DNS) 23V-Ryan VanderVeen.

Last Chance Showdown (12 Laps): 1. 42-Chad Finley [8]; 2. 22-Austin Burns, [1]; 3. M14-Brandon Thirlby [5]; 4. 41-Jason Playter Jr. [9]; 5. 16-Garrett Wiles [2]; 6. 2J-Bry Johnson [6]; 7. 07-Shawn Reed [7]; 8. 15-Phil Ausra [4]; 9. 53-Hillard Miller [3]; (DNS) 81-Steve Shellenberger (DNS) 34-Herb Reich (DNS) 25-Chuck Hummer.

Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 21-Logan Arntz [1]; 2. 2-Travis Stemler [5]; 3. 21B-Rich Bell [4]; 4. 8-Rob Anderzack [6]; 5. 20-Chad White [2]; 6. 22-Austin Burns [7]; 7. 53-Hillard Miller [8]; 8. 2J-Bry Johnson [3]; 9.81-Steve Shellenberger [9]

Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 23V-Ryan VanderVeen [2]; 2. 27S-Eric Spangler [4]; 3. 1N-Casey Noonan [1]; 4. 87-David Mielke [3]; 5. 79-Nick Kurtz [6]; 6. 34-Herb Reich [5]; 7. 15-Phil Ausra [7]; 8. 07-Shawn Reed [8]; 9. 25-Chuck Hummer [9]

Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1. 32-Chad Stapleton [1]; 2. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk [7]; 3. 87N-Rich Neiser [8]; 4. 50-Ryan Missler [2]; 5. 12-Scott Fisk [5]; 6. 16-Garrett Wiles [6]; 7. M14-Brandon Thirlby [4]; 8. 94-Bill Bray [9]; 9. 42-Chad Finley [3]

Group Qualifying 1: 1. 21B-Rich Bell 16.689; 2. 2J-Bry Johnson 16.709; 3. 20-Chad White 16.912; 4. 21-Logan Arntz 16.956; 5. 2-Travis Stemler 17.065; 6. 8-Rob Anderzack 17.076; 7. 22-Austin Burns 17.158; 8. 53-Hillard Miller 17.444; 9. 81-Steve Shellenberger 17.444

Group Qualifying 2: 1. 27S-Eric Spangler 16.563; 2. 87-David Mielke 16.649; 3. 23V-Ryan VanderVeen 16.940; 4. 1N-Casey Noonan 17.254; 5. 79-Nick Kurtz 17.306; 6. 15-Phil Ausra 17.591; 7. 07-Shawn Reed 17.681; 8. 25-Chuck Hummer, 18.538; 9. 34-Herb Reich, 18.538

Group Qualifying 3: 1. M14-Brandon Thirlby 15.985; 2. 42-Chad Finley 16.271; 3. 50-Ryan Missler 16.741; 4. 32-Chad Stapleton 16.765; 5. 12-Scott Fisk 16.983; 6. 16-Garrett Wiles 16.990; 7. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk 17.020; 8. 87N-Rich Neiser 17.094; 9. 94-Bill Bray 17.933

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