Herb Iverson (1) and Charles Peterson (29) race bumper-to-bumper during the Vintage Modified feature race Sunday at the Upper Peninsula Internataional Raceway in Escanaba.
ESCANABA — The Upper Peninsula International Raceway opened up its 2021 season Sunday night with a full card of racing packed with action in Escanaba.
Taking the checkered flag in the Bink’s Coca-Cola Sport Modified division was Matt Valiquette (Menominee) who battled from the back of the grid to take the win by passing both Matt Maki (Rapid River) and Jamie Iverson (Escanaba) on a green-white-checkered dash to the finish.
The victory boiled down to one word.
“Patience,” he said. “Patience is the one word that would capture it. I knew we had a good car. I knew we had 20 laps to work our way through (the field). I wasn’t confident that we would get to the front, but I was confident that we would get far enough up front that we could at least be competitive.
“I knew if I wasn’t patient, I’d probably take a wheel off the car, we wouldn’t finish the race and then, there’s no chance of winning.”
For second-place finisher Iverson, the race featured several bumps in the road.
On two consecutive restarts, Iverson ended up backward after contact with first Chris Pepin and then Ryan Lindbert.
Both times, Iverson was able to keep his position while Pepin and Lindbert were sent to the back of the pack. After the first incident, Iverson’s car was an ailing machine.
“The first one knocked the toe out and knocked the power steering line off and blew the power steering,” Iverson said. “It was a struggle after that. I don’t know what happened with the second one, but to come second was alright.”
Without the aid of power steering, Iverson was doing all he could to get what he needed to out of his car.
“I was just trying to muster what I had,” he said. “The car was just beat up and bent, and by then, there was nothing I could do.”
Valiquette — who on track was unaware of Iverson’s battles inside the racecar — complimented Iverson for running hard without power steering on top of being a respectful adversary.
“That’s impressive because these cars are difficult to wheel under the best of circumstances,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing it on a slick track without power steering.
“I love racing with (Iverson). He’s one of those guys you can get door-to-door with. He’s going to respect you. We can race hard, we can be aggressive, and that’s how it should be.”
Matt Maki finished third.
The rest of the afternoon’s racing featured great battles as well.
In the Vintage Modified division, Herb Iverson (Gladstone) and Charles Peterson (Rapid River) battled side-by-side, bumper-to-bumper, for the majority of the race with Peterson taking the win and Iverson second. In tow, finishing third, was Allan Yelle who also diced it up with the top two finishers.
Tyler Winling (Escanaba) — who plans to race full-time at UPIR for the first time in over five years — took the Street Stock win over Ron Jenshak (Escanaba) and Nick Leisner (Escanaba) in a race that saw drivers using all lanes of the UPIR surface to create a multi-lane race. Door-to-door and three-wide battles were commonplace in the feature.
In the Riverside Auto Group Youth Micro Sprint feature, Carson Artley (Escanaba) raced like a veteran through a slew of lapped traffic to hold off Karl Warm (Escanaba) for the win. Defending track champion Griffin Iverson (Escanaba) finished in third.
Other feature winners include Kyle Getchell (Escanaba, 600 Micro Sprints) — ahead of Logan Getzloff (Wilson) and Rick Ness (Escanaba) — Brett Labre (Escanaba, Sportsman Micro Sprints) — in front of Luke Labre (Escanaba) and Brennan Swanson (Menominee) — Adam Broehm (Newston, Wis., Island Resort Sport Compacts) — who beat out Trever Cronick (Faithorm) and James Riske (Newton, Wis.) and Jesse Denome (Escanaba, Super Vintage Modifieds) who finished in front of Scott Degnan (Escanaba) and double-duty Matt Valiquette.
The UPIR returns to Saturday night action next week with EMP Fan Appreciation Night.