LAKE ODESSA, Mich. – The American Ethanol Late Model Tour took on I-96 Speedway for the first time this season during the Battle of Speed 40 presented by Zook Farm Equipment on Friday night.
Coming into the event, seven different drivers had found victory lane, with five of them marking their first ever AELMT victory – and that trend continued again this time out with a win by David Mielke.
A stacked first three rows, including Brandon Thirlby, Logan Arntz and Travis Stemler, were all looking to become the first repeat winner of the season.
Stemler and Mielke led the field to the green flag, with Stemler jumping out to the early race lead. However, the caution flag waved soon after, as Thirlby was bitten by the cushion that lined I-96 Speedway, rolling his nose piece up and under the right front of the car.
He slowed going into turn three, bringing out the first caution of the night.
On the restart, Stemler went back to work, jumping back out front, setting his sights on the chance to become a repeat winner. Those hopes quickly vanished when, on lap 10, Stemler became the next victim of the Speedway, busting up his nose piece, and spinning off the top of turn three.
That handed things over to Logan Arntz for the restart.
Arntz took off with the lead over Mielke, and was looking like the man to beat for the $4,000 pay day as he lead through the halfway point over Mielke and Jeep VanWormer.
All that changed when Arntz slipped up coming off the second corner, allowing Mielke to get to his inside. Mielke charged to the lead just before the caution flew once again for Thirlby.
From there, Mielke held on to collect his first career AELMT feature win, making him the eighth different driver to go to victory lane and the sixth first-time winner of the season.
Mielke bested a hard-charging VanWormer, who came from seventh on the grid, and a determined Chad Finley, who recovered from a near spin with less than 10 laps to go.
Arntz and Ryan VanderVeen rounded out the top five.