He was the first repeat winner, now he is the first three-peat winner. Michigan Super Late Model veteran driver Terry Senneker sailed to the front of the Main Event Racing Series finale at Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway at lap 61, wrestling the point from Johnny Jenkins, and led the last 39 markers to get his third career victory in this race. Teammate Steve Needles followed Senneker across the line in second to give team Gentry a one, two punch finish. For team Gentry this was five wins in a row and sixth overall in this race. Senneker three in 2007, 2009, and 2011, Needles two in 2008 and 2010, and the late Lee Anderson gave the team a win as well.
Jenkins and Harold Fair Jr. would bring the field of 26 fire breathing MERS Super Late Models to the green flag and start of the 100 lap marathon. The front duo would dive down in turn one door handle to door handle and off two down the backstretch. Going into three Jenkins would start to pull out and off four he had the point. The first caution would fly on the second lap as a lone spinner was the culprit. Quickly put back in line, the field would go green with Jenkins showing the way. Followed by Fair, Tyler Roahrig, Bud Perry, and Needles the top five would set pace. At lap nine Scott Baker and Jeremy Dennis would get together sending Dennis hard into the outside turn four wall and Baker in the infield, both on the hook and finished for the day. Back to green the field would set a torrid pace as Jenkins continued to show the way and by lap 35 Senneker pulled into the top five. At the halfway point Jenkins still showed the way but Senneker and the No. 37 car where coming on fast and moved into second followed by Donnie Zero Hill and teammate Needles as Fair rounded out the top five. At lap 61 Senneker was finally able to wrestle the point away as he and Jenkins went wheel-to-wheel for several laps. At lap 75 Needles moved into second getting past Jenkins and Fair moved up to fourth. It was too late for Needles however, as his teammate checked out on the field now putting some very good race cars a lap down. At the finish line it was Senneker blistering under the checkers followed by Needles, Jenkins, Fair, and Roahrig rounding out the top ten.
“It started out real good,” said runner up Needles. “The car was real good for about the first 30 laps, then it freed up on us for a little while. Then I kind of got to the outside of some of those guys and made a run to the front. But, then it got a little loose and wiggled up the race track and that left the door open for a few of them guys and we lost a couple spots. We race on tracks like this every week and for us to come here it’s kind of in our element. It's just one of those things where we are comfortable on a track like this. We have a lot of experience at tracks like this and for the guys who come here once a year it is kind of a struggle for them. We are just kind of used to it. I am happy with coming up to get second,” finished the two-time winner Needles.
Race winner Senneker was happy as well with his Gentry ride and team. “The car was really good early on,” stated Senneker. “As we were approaching the center the car was about as good as it was all day. Then as I approached the 2 car it got a little tight on me. And getting by the 2 car I was tight, plus he was making his car wide in the corner so that made it even tougher to get through the middle of the corner and then beat him off. But, after I got to the lead I could just roll the car, I did not have to pinch the car and drive it as hard. Towards the end when we got into heavy traffic I did lose the front end and Steve was able to gain on me there. I was lucky we didn’t have a caution because it would have been a real race then. We work really hard up north as our tracks are in similar shape. That being a momentum track. These guys only travel to these kinds of tracks a couple times a year and this track in particular is the only track in this series that is similar to Berlin or Kalamazoo where we race on a weekly basis. So, we get a whole season to dial our cars in and tune them in to a track similar to this, and then when we come here our cars are usually fairly good right out of the box,” explained the now three time winner of the Main Event Series final.
The year long MERS war ended with Bud Perry, on the heels of a sixth place run at Columbus, as the now 2011 MERS Champion. Along with his Redskins Motorsports No. 10 team the Edgerton Ohio veteran driver was very happy to win the Championship. “We were pretty good wherever we went all year,” stated Perry. “Other than today and Sandusky (OH) our very first race was the only races we finished out of the top five. The car just stayed good the whole race and we were just kind of hanging in there, it felt really good on long runs. Obviously you don’t get a lot of long runs in this series once in a while. The car usually stays pretty good and it will come back to me a bit. I am really happy with my sixth today and qualifying effort of fifth yesterday. So, for never making the show before to doing this it is a great accomplishment for Redskin Motorsports. The car usually gets tight on us so we made adjustments to free it up a little and then with that long green flag run there the last 30 or 40 laps the car really tightened up on us. I had to slow down a little bit and keep it on the bottom to pretty much hold my own. Whoever wanted to go to the outside they could have it, all in all just a good day,” finished the 2011 MERS Champion. In closing Perry did note that he will be back in 2012 to defend his title.
The race itself was slowed by just seven yellow flags with four coming in the first nine laps. The three heat winners consisted of Travis Eddy, Jamie Hunt, and five time former track Champion Zero Hill. The fast qualifier was Senneker with a lap of 12.840 and the inversion was eight. The race took just over an hour to complete.
Rundowns Courtesy Of Jeff Nuckles...
Main Event Racing Series
Top Qualifier - Terry Senneker 12.840
Top Eight Qualifiers Lock-In: Terry Senneker, Trent Hellenga, Jimmy Carter, Steve Needles, Bud Perry, Tyler Roahrig, Harold Fair Jr., Johnny Jenkins
Heat: 1) Travis Eddy 2) Rick Sibila 3) John Stroble 4) Scott Baker 5) Bob Gainer
Heat: 1) Jamie Hunt 2) Tim Ice 3) John Flynn 4) Jack Varney 5 Burgess White
Heat: 1) Donnie Hill 2) Drew Charlson 3) Charlie Schultz 4) Jeremy Dennis 5) Bob Sibila, Jr.
Feature - 1) Terry Senneker 2) Steve Needles 3) Johnny Jenkins 4) Harold Fair 5) Tyler Roahrig 6) Bud Perry 7) Jimmy Carter 8) Donnie Hill 9) Brian Short 10) Travis Eddy 11) Jack Varney 12) Drew Charlson 13) Burgess White 14) John Stroble 15) Rick Sibila 16) Bob Gainer 17) Brian Fries 18) Trent Hellenga 19) Jeremy Dennis 20) Scott Baker 21) Bob Sibila, Jr. 22) Tim Ice 23) Jamie Hunt 24) Josh Smith 25) Rich Rohrer