ESCANABA - There were quite a few Christian Groleau fans in attendance at Saturday night's races at the Upper Peninsula International Raceway.
And the soon-to-be Gladstone High School junior treated them to quite a show as he weaved his way from back of the pack to win the sportsman microsprint feature and dominated the second heat.
"This was a special night for me," said Groleau, who also plays baseball for the Gladstone Indians. "I had relatives here from Maryland. This is the only time all year they get to see me race."
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Teenager Christian Groleau (13) of Gladstone navigates a turn in the Sportsman class microsprints heat ahead of Karen Degnan of Escanaba Saturday at the Upper Peninsula International Raceway. Groleau went on to win the heat and the feature race. Degnan was runner-up in the heat.
Kristy Peterson placed second in the feature and Karen Degnan was runner-up in the second heat.
"The car ran real fast tonight, and I got up high and stayed out of trouble," said Groleau, who was fifth in the point standings coming into Saturday's races. "I stayed to the outside all the time. Coming from in back of the pack makes it a lot more challenging. Any opening you get, you've got to take it. You have to be smart and patient."
Jon Barron of Escanaba took the checkered flag in the 4/6 cylinder main feature and was runner-up to Randy DeGrave of Escanaba in the first heat.
"I think I was a little too wound up in the heat race," said Barron. "I calmed down and was more patient in the feature. I also have new tires on the car, which really helps. This is my first feature win, so this is quite a confidence boost. I've been up there pushing the leaders, but until now I couldn't quite get over the hump.
Ryan Leisenring of Escanaba and Erik Marenger were winners in the 4/6 cylinder consolation features.
Fourteen-year-old Jordan Ives of Gladstone took copped the 600 microsprint feature after experiencing some difficulty in the heat race.
"We had trouble with the throttle cord," he said. "We did a couple chasis adjustments between races and we were set up good for the feature."
Ives also races in the late model division on the 3/8-mile paved track at Norway, but says adjusting to the 1/3-mile clay oval in Escanaba isn't overwhelming.
"Racing here requires a different set-up from racing at Norway," said Ives. "It's not a big adjustement for me, but it can be for some people."
Ten-year-old Jesse "James" Liss of Bark River remained undefeated this season by winning the junior sprint feature and heat event.
Also among the feature winners was Fran Berube of Escanaba in IMCA modified. Jason Holmes of Kenosha, Wis. was the heat winner.
Additional heat winners in 4/6 cylinder were Ron Borchert (second), Zach Jones (third) and Reggie Lantagne of Riverland (fourth).
Paul Hosking captured the first heat in sportsman microsprint.
In 600 microsprint, Kody Peterson copped the first heat, with Scott Degnan of Escanaba taking the second heat and placing third in the feature.
Several collisions took place during the races and Dylan Lanaville flipped over after the No. 1 turn in the second lap of the first heat in 4/6 cylinder. No injuries were reported.
Other details about the races weren't available.