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UPIR ends season with a bang with 2nd Annual Border Battle

Photo courtesy John McDonough Brett Wenzel of Manitowoc, Wis. rolls his car (No. 0) during the IMCA Stock Car feature race Saturday at the Upper Peninsula International Raceway in Escanaba.

ESCANABA — It was wheels up for 110 racers at the second annual Border Battle at the Advanced Auto Parts Upper Peninsula International Raceway in Escanaba last Saturday.

Following heavy rains prior to the race, workers scrambled to remove water from the pit area and prep the track.

Several of the classes racing at UPIR saw an increased driver’s purse sponsored by the track. Many sponsors and individuals also kicked in to increase the driver’s purse.

The 2019 Border Battle began in May when UPIR racers traveled to Sturgeon Bay, Wis. to duel it out with racers at The Hill Raceway and were awarded points. After the combined points were tallied at UPIR, trophies sponsored by The Hill Raceway were awarded to Border Battle Champions: Sport Compacts/Bombers, Tony Everard, Green Bay, Wis.; Street Stocks, Chase Solomon, Oshkosh, Wis.; Stock Cars, John Adams, Denmark, Wis.; Sport Modifieds, Jaared VanLaanen, Luxemburg, Wis. and Vintage Modifieds, Charles Peterson, Rapid River.

Drivers from other Wis. tracks made the trek to try out the new race surface and track configuration for 2019. Dave Myers and Nathan Brabon, who race on asphalt at Sands Speedway, also joined the Sport Compacts/Bombers class. It all added up to the most exciting night of racing in the 2019 season.

Northern Racing Fabrications of Rapid River awarded trophies to feature winners. The race night was marred with several red flags due to major pile-ups and rollovers.

The Getchell Builders 600 Winged Micro Sprint feature started with 17 cars and all but five were involved in two major pile-ups on the first lap. Once the carnage was untangled, there were 11 sprints left to take the green flag on the restart. The second red flag was thrown 12 laps in when Jeff Ives of Bark River had a mechanical failure, went up in the air and took a hard hit on the backstretch wall.

The third red flag flew when Paul Hosking of Bark River blew an engine. The race was called with 23 laps completed. Only seven cars finished the race with Jered Cech of Wis. taking the win. Rounding out the top five were Matt Petersen of Escanaba, Jeremiah Roberts of Manistique, Bob Valiquette of Escanaba and Scott Richer of Bark River. Heats were won by Matt Peterson and Robert Buttry, both of Escanaba.

The Riverside Auto Group Youth Micro Sprints with racers ranging from ages 5-13 saw Tyler Demars of Green Bay coming in first, followed by Karl Warm of Escanaba. Liam Steinhauer and Brody Steinhauer of Escanaba finished third and fourth with Kaleb Warm of Escanaba coming in fifth. Ethan Manninen, the 2019 track champion of Cornell, won the heat.

The top three finishers in the UPIR Sportsman Micro Sprint feature were Escanaba drivers Trevor Denome, Drake Degnan and Jeffrey Latsch. Brennan Swanson of Menominee won the heat. As usual, this class ran clean races without a caution.

The 2019 UPIR Vintage Modified Champion — Scott Degnan of Escanaba — continued his winning ways by taking the checkered flag in the feature. Degnan also won the heat with Jesse Denome of San Diego, Calif. coming in second and Charles Peterson of Rapid River rounding out the podium.

It was a full field in the A & L Iron and Metal Street Stock feature with 20 cars taking to the track. After only one caution for a spin in the 25- lap race, it was Chase Solomon coming home first after he started near the rear of the pack. Second through fourth places saw Wis. drivers Rod Snellenberger, Pulaski; Cody Potter, Pell Lake and Andrew Fuhrmann, Brillion. Paul Wagner of Gladstone rounded out the top five. Heat winners were Eddie “The Eagle” Anschutz of Two Rivers, Wis. and Rod Snellenberger.

The IMCA Stock Cars from Wis. were joined by UPIR racers Eric Mathieson and Jason Piron. Wheels up was the name of the game with pedals to the metal as many drove on three wheels much of the race. Following his heat win, on lap five of the feature Brett Wenzel of Manitowoc, Wis. appeared to clip a tire, caught air and rolled landing on his side. Mathieson was able to avoid injury when his car caught fire on the front stretch and he entered the pits. The track crew and Cornell Fire Department quickly responded and doused the fire.

Snellengberger was the feature winner. Eric Arneson of Oconto Falls, Wis. came in second; Mike Schmidt of Shawano, Wis was third; Josh Mroczkowski of Krakow, Wis. was fourth and Zach Spangenberg of Manitowoc was fifth. Heat winners were Wenzel and Snellenberger, who crossed the line just ahead of Schmidt after it looked like Schmidt had the win in the bag.

It was a stacked Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modified feature with 21 cars poised to take their shot at the win. Logan Fleischman from Antigo, Wis. was the victor with UPIR racers and all former track champions Matt Valiquette of Menominee and Lonnie Dalgord and Jamie Iverson of Escanaba finishing second through fourth. Bret Widdis of Menominee followed in fifth. Heat winners were VanLaanen, Logan Fleischman and Bret Widdis.

The Sport Compacts/Bombers feature was cut short due to rain. Tony and TJ Everard of Green Bay finished first and second respectively. Robert Kirkpatrick and Tyler Corwin of Gladstone finished third and fourth with Wis. driver Justin Finlan rounding out the top five. Heats were won by Alex Constantino of Rapid River and Everard.

All results and the website can be found at myracepass.com under Upper Peninsula International Raceway. Like “Upper Peninsula International Raceway” on Facebook to follow track news during the offseason.

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