LaSalle, IL (May 7, 2021) – The Mars Racing Series got the 2021 season kicked off with night one of the 10th Annual Thaw Brawl at LaSalle Speedway. t. After a pair of rainouts so far in 2021 the Mars Racing Series was more than itching to get things going. It was fitting for the season to kick off at the Series Owners Tony Izzo Jr bullring outside of LaSalle, IL. Twenty-one cars entered for the opening round on Friday night for the $3,000 to win event.
In Allstar Performance qualifying it was the two-time Mars Racing Series champion Tanner English from Benton, Kentucky who set the fastest lap at 12.646 seconds. He bested defending Series Champion Brian Shirley and El Paso, Illinois’ Ryan Unzicker.
After opening ceremonies it was Arizona Sport Shirts Heat Race #1 that got racing kicked off. It was fast qualifier Tanner English who got to the lead early and never looked back. Tanner won by a straight away over Jason Feger who finished second. Travis Stemler came across the stripe in third and Kolby Vandenbergh in fourth.
Heat Race #2 present by Dirt Track Bank saw Chatham, IL driver Brian Shirley come away with the heat race win. Former UMP National Champion Rusty Schlenk finished runner-up. Illinois drivers Mike Spatola and Bob Gardner finished third and fourth.
In the final heat race of the night presented by O’Riley Auto Parts went to Ryan Unzicker. Jeremiah Hurst came home in second. Rich Bell and Ryan Weistart finished third and fourth.
This all set the stage for the 30 lap $3,000 to win feature event presented by DNJ Intermodal Services on the quarter-mile at LaSalle Speedway. On the start Tanner English jumped out front and led the first couple of circuits. Brain Shirley ran the top side early on but it was Ryan Unzicker using the bottom side to get around English and take over out front. Handling a couple restarts and some bouts with lap traffic Ryan Unzicker was able to fend off challenges from Brian Shirley to pick up his fourth career Mars feature win. Tanner English was able to hold on to third and round out the podium.
Ryan exited his car and celebrated with son Broody climbing up on the roof of his new MB Custom machine to salute the LaSalle crowd. In victory lane Ryan was excited to pick up his second win of the 2021 season for this team. “To be able to beat Shirley and Tanner speaks a lot, the car is well balanced right now and is why we are here in victory lane,” said Unzicker. Brian Shirley who came home second was happy with his run, said the track was in good shape but he needs to get a little better for tomorrow night. Tanner English, who came home third, said he made the wrong tire choice but was still happy to run up front. Garrett Alberson was the hard charger finishing seventh after starting back in the fifteenth spot.
The Mars Racing Series will compete on Saturday night with the big $12,000 to win prize on the line. Also the coveted Thaw Brawl belt will be on the line, one the more unique trophies in dirt racing. With the treat of weather late in the night the start time has been moved up to 5pm instead of 6pm. Grandstands open at 3pm. All the action can be seen LIVE at floracing.com as well.
Fast Qualifier: Tanner English 12.646 seconds
Heat 1: Tanner English, Jason Feger, Travis Stemler, Kolby Vandenbergh, Mike Chasteen Jr, Titus Snead, Mike Provenzano, Greg Wagner
Heat 2: Brian Shirley, Rusty Schlenk, Mike Spatola, Bob Gardner, Jeff Ridell, Dale Markham, Victor Benedetto
Heat 3: Ryan Unzicker, Jeremiah Hurst, Rich Bell, Ryan Weistart, Garrett Alberson, Colin Shipley, Jake Miller
Feature (30 Laps): Ryan Unzicker, Brian Shirley, Tanner English, Jeremiah Hurst, Jason Feger, Rusty Schlenk, Garrett Alberson, Mike Spatola, Travis Stemler, Mike Chasteen Jr., Kolby Vandenbergh, Bob Gardner, Mike Provenzano, Colin Shipley, Dale Markham, Ryan Weistart, Titus Snead, Jeff Ridell, Rich Bell, Victor Benedetto, Greg Wagner, Jake Miller