Vermeersch on Pole of Third Time as Front Row Set (Day 1 Qualifying)


The front row of Saturday’s 45th Annual International 500 Snowmobile Race features a combined six pole positions – but no I-500 wins. Grant Vermeersch will start on the pole position for Saturday’s 45th Annual International 500 Snowmobile Race after posting the fastest time during qualifying Tuesday.

Vermeersch drove the Countryside Motorsports No. 12 Yamaha around the mile-long oval in 40.953 at an average speed of 88.69 mph. The Unionville, Mich., resident also won the pole in 2003 and 2006 on a Polaris, but switched back to Yamaha this year with its new 1050cc, four-stroke engine. “It’s the best machine I’ve ever rode on this track,” Vermeersch said. “It pulls so hard on the bottom end. This is a whole new year for us.” I-500 veteran John Bosek will start second. The three-time polesitter from Garfield, Minn., driving the No. 11 Wuppet Wace Team Polaris, finished in 40.666 seconds at an average speed of 88.53 mph. won the poll in 1987, 1988 and 2007. Vermeersch and Bosek will start in the front row no matter if another driver qualifies faster. Qualifying continues Wednesday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and final qualifying will take place Thursday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The I-500 changed its qualifying format a few years ago to mimic the Indianapolis 500, locking in the front row on the first day of qualifying and filling in the rest of the 38-sled field the next two days. Bosek, who has never won the I-500 despite driving the second-most miles in race history, said the new format will give him a better chance to get his sled dialed it. “It’s a lot better,” Bosek said. “There would be three or four of us that would bump each other out of the pole, and we’d get back in line just in case the other guy bumped us. We never had time for a race setup.”

Warm temperatures and freezing rain kept the track slower than usual, and a heavy, icy fog came over the track at the beginning of qualifying and began to dissipate as the night wore on. The times improved over the course of the three-hour session but still far off the normal pace for I-500 qualifying runs. Vermeersch has twice cracked 94 mph during qualifying, while Bosek’s last pole was won at 93.37 mph. “It was pretty bad out there,” Vermeersch said. “With the freezing rain on the goggles it was hard to focus on the track. You had to pick points out in the corners and aim for them.”

Day 1 I-500 Qualifying

Place No. Driver Hometown Team Sled Time Speed
1 12 Grant Vermeersch Unionville, Mich. Countryside Motorsports Yamaha 40.593 88.69
2 11 John Bosek Alexandria, Minn. Wuppett Wace Team Polaris 40.666 88.53
NOTE: Top two positions are locked in. 
3 21 Troy DeWald AuGres, Mich. Cadarette Collision Arctic Cat 40.784 88.27
4 20 Josh Ware Sault Ste. Marie R&R Racing Polaris 40.831 88.17
5 19 Cody Badour Farwell, Mich. Tommie Bauer Racing Arctic Cat 41.645 86.44
6 3 Corey Davidson Holt, Minn. XLT Engineering/Woody's Polaris 41.768 86.19
7 32 Larry Young Sault Ste. Marie Piche Performance Polaris 41.898 85.92
8 311 Ross Erdman Fargo, N.D. Yamaha Racing Yamaha 41.997 85.72
9 10 Cam Vermeersch Unionville, Mich. Countryside Motorsports Yamaha 42.067 85.58
10 35 Scott Odom Traverse City, Mich. Team Torture Ski-Doo 42.329 85.05
11 74 Gabe Bunke Browerville, Minn. Bunke Racing Polaris 42.470 84.77
12 131 Mike Babcock Rudyard, Mich. 131 Racing Polaris 42.687 84.33
13 85 Kris Eichenberg Reed City, Mich. Eichenberg Racing Yamaha 42.736 84.24
14 537 Ryan Faust Horicon, Wis. Bunke Racing 2 Polaris 42.756 84.20
15 2 Joel Diamond Lapeer, Mich. Team Blu Polaris 42.764 84.18
16 29 Jeff Leuenberger Freeland, Mich. DL Racing Ski-Doo 42.801 84.11
17 22 Joe Burch Rosebush, Mich. Beard Motorsports Polaris 42.900 83.92
18 67 Bill Wilkes Alpena, Mich. Hoos Racing Polaris 43.046 83.63
19 16 Shane Felegy North Branch, Minn. Russell Racing Polaris 43.299 83.14
20 18 Dale Dunn Jr. Cedarville, Mich. Dunn Racing Ski-Doo 43.356 83.03
21 8 Eric Zellar Germfask, Mich. Yovich Racing Polaris 43.587 82.59
22 5 Kevin Bouman Martin, Mich. LMB Speedshop Polaris 43.593 82.58
23 407 Brian Anderson Newberry, Mich. Yovich Racing Polaris 43.695 82.39
24 17 John Ranta Cedarville, Mich. R&S Racing Arctic Cat 43.818 82.16
25 26 Lance Kalbfleisch Brown City, Mich. Top Secret Arctic Cat 43.840 82.12
26 51 Jon Giffel Essexville, Mich. R&R Racing Polaris 43.861 82.08
27 57 James Heiler DeWitt, Mich. Felzke Farms Polaris 43.866 82.07
28 86 Jason Fountain DeTour Village, Mich. Team Traction Polaris 43.896 82.01
29 63 Antero Tarvudd Echo Bay, Ont. Eckert Racing Polaris 44.046 81.73
30 42 Andy Shoemaker Pinconning, Mich. Millenium Motorsports Polaris 44.232 81.39
31 72 Karl Schwartz Freeland, Mich. Applebee's Racing Polaris 44.310 81.25
32 167 Darrell Howard Anchorage, Alaska Mohan Racing Arctic Cat 44.399 81.08
33 9 Anthony Mayer Rudyard, Mich. Mayer Racing Polaris 44.413 81.06
34 1 Rod Bell Akron, Mich. Blue Team Racing Yamaha 44.632 80.66
35 X1 Isaac Wolfgang Breckenridge, Mich. KingKat Racing Arctic Cat 44.854 80.26
36 73 Billy Skea Traverse City, Mich. Holeshot Motorsports Polaris 45.246 79.57
37 34 Jim Erickson Marquette, Mich. Kovar Racing Polaris 45.413 79.27
38 66 Gary Moyle Houghton, Mich. Moyle Racing Arctic Cat 46.564 77.31

Woody's Challenge Qualifying

Just 16 qualifying attempts were made for the Woody’s Challenge pro-am, to be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. Larry Young Jr. of the Brimley, Mich.-based Piche Performance No. 32 Polaris was the fastest racer at 87.63 mph. Kevin Bouman of Martin, Mich., driving the LMB Speedshop No.5 Polaris was second at 87.50 mph. There is another hour-long qualifying session Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Place No. Driver Hometown Team Sled Time Speed
1 32 Larry Young Jr. Sault Ste. Marie Piche Performance Polaris 41.082 87.63
2 5 Kevin Bouman Martin, Mich. LMB Speedshop Polaris 41.141 87.50
3 74 Gabe Bunke Browerville, Minn. Bunke Racing Polaris 42.035 85.64
4 311 Ross Erdman Fargo, N.D. Yamaha Racing Yamaha 42.102 85.51
5 132 Bryan Ball Sault Ste. Marie Piche Performance Polaris 42.180 85.35
6 10 Cam Vermeersch Unionville, Mich. Countryside Motorsports Yamaha 42.337 85.03
7 31 Aaron Mayer Rudyard, Mich Hunt Racing Polaris 43.003 83.72
8 20 Josh Ware Sault Ste. Marie R&R Racing Polaris 43.332 83.08
9 1 Rod Bell Akron, Mich. Blue Team Racing Yamaha 43.436 82.88
10 16 Shane Felegy North Branch, Minn. Russell Racing Polaris 43.681 82.42
11 9 Anthony Mayer Rudyard, Mich Mayer Racing Polaris 44.057 81.71
12 63 Antero Tarvudd Echo Bay, Ont. Eckert Racing Polaris 44.181 81.48
13 131 Mike Babcock Rudyard, Mich 131 Racing Polaris 44.453 80.98
14 72 Karl Schwartz Freeland, Mich. Applebee's Racing Polaris 45.810 78.59
15 86 Jason Fountain DeTour Village, Mich. Team Traction Polaris 50.755 70.93

Wednesday

Qualifying for the final 36 spots in the I-500 goes from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. There will be additional qualifying for both the I-500 and Woody’s Challenge on Thursday. The Rookie Roundup begins at 8:30 p.m. to give new racers to the I-500 a chance to acclimate themselves to the higher speeds of the only mile-long oval in North America.

Weather

The weather report for Wednesday calls for snow or rain in the morning and snow in the afternoon with total daytime accumulation up to 7 inches. The high temperature is forecasted to be 32. Winds will be from the northwest off Lake Superior shifting to north in the afternoon with gusts up to 30 mph. Saturday’s weather report calls for highs of 18 degrees and a 70 percent chance of snow, perfect conditions for enjoying a day at Michigan’s Premier Winter Sporting Event.

Media Director: Ric Federau, 989-808-5266


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