Marcoullier Earns Merritt Speedway Spoils

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Dona Marcoullier crosses the finish line to win Sunday's American Ethanol Late Model Tour event at Merritt Speedway. (Jim Denhamer Photo)
Dona Marcoullier crosses the finish line to win Sunday's American Ethanol Late Model Tour event at Merritt Speedway. (Jim Denhamer Photo)

LAKE CITY, Mich. – Dona Marcoullier earned a $4,000 payday during Sunday’s American Ethanol Late Model Tour event at Merritt Speedway.

It seemed as though track position would be everything during Sunday’s 40-lap feature as passing was nearly unseen leading up to the main event.

Rusty Schlenk and Brandon Thirlby would lead the field to the green flag and the race was, quite literally, on. Thirlby used momentum off the top of turn two to power around into the lead on the opening lap.

Thirlby appeared to be opening up a gap on second-place Schlenk, when suddenly the No. CJ1 of Schlenk found new life. As the leaders neared in on back markers, Schlenk made his move to the inside of Thirlby’s No. M14, and took the top spot just before the halfway point.

Thirlby started to slide back to third place running Travis Stemler when Schlenk would have problems with backmarkers. The pair went side-by-side for the lead, behind a pair of side-by-side back markers – Thirlby would find the fast line around the bottom, and edge pack ahead of Schlenk.

As they did that, it allowed Stemler and Dona Marcoullier to reel them in. Thirlby began to try and put lapped cars between he and Schlenk, but with 11 laps to go, the caution waved for a single car spin that allowed Schlenk to get right back behind Thirlby.

On the ensuing restart, the entire feel of the race changed when fourth starting Marcoullier took Thirlby and Schlenk three wide down the back straightaway, jumping into the lead in turn three.

Schlenk would find a way around Thirlby and the dash to the finish was a good one. Two single car spins with seven laps to go would not phaze the two time AELMT champion, and Marcoullier went on to victory lane.

Schlenk finished second, Thirlby was third, Rich Bell took fourth and Travis Stemler rounded out the top five.

The finish:

Dona Marcoullier, Rusty Schlenk, Brandon Thirlby, Rich Bell, Travis Stemler, Dennis Erb Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Nick Kurtz, Rich Neiser, Chad Finley, Steven Hilliker, Dave Baker, Andrew Terrill, Herb Reich, David Mielke, Eric Spangler, Rob Anderzack, Dusty Moore, Kyle Novak, Mike Staszak, Jason Playter Jr., Kyle Roberts, Michael Luberda, Logan Arntz, Joe Godsey, Josh Knoll.