ROSSBURG , OH – Oct. 6, 2007 – Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg , Tenn. (Late Models) and Scott Orr of Columbia City , Ind. (open-wheel Modifieds) registered hard-fought victories in Saturday night’s UMP DIRTcar Racing Fall Nationals at Eldora Speedway.
Bloomquist, 42, made a strong run to the front in the 40-lap Late Model A-Main, advancing from the ninth starting spot to grab the lead on lap 21 from Josh Richards of Shinnston , W.Va. A former winner of the half-mile oval’s prestigious ‘World 100’ and ‘Dream’ events, Bloomquist pulled away in the caution-free event to pocket the $10,000 top prize by a straightaway over Richards.
Orr added another notch to his ample Eldora victory belt in the 25-lap open-wheel Modified feature, earning $3,000 for his track-record 31st career Modified win at the high-banked track. He led the entire distance but had to fend off a furious late-race challenge from Jeff Leka of Buffalo , Ill. , who needed a triumph to keep alive his hopes of winning the UMP DIRTcar Racing open-wheel Modified national title.
With the two-day program closing out the 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing points season, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville , Ill. , was crowned the Late Model national champ and Denny Schwartz of Ashmore, Ill., claimed the open-wheel Modified title. Both drivers will receive a $20,000 check at the 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Awards Banquet, scheduled for Jan. 12, 2008, in Springfield , Ill.
Erb, 35, had already clinched his first-ever Late Model national crown before entering the weekend’s action, but the Modified battle literally went down to the final lap.
Schwartz, 46, entered the event with a two-point lead over Leka, whose only shot at vaulting ahead in the standings was to win the feature and have Schwartz finish outside the top four.
When Schwartz was forced to use a points provisional to start the A-Main due to a busted radiator during Friday’s heat action and his involvement in an accident in a Saturday-night B-Main, Leka, 41, seemed to have some hope. He was mired in the 20th starting spot for the A-Main, but he cut through the pack in stirring fashion, reaching second place on lap 12.
While Leka challenged Orr for the lead, Schwartz made a stirring charge of his own from the 25th starting position. He reached the crucial fourth spot on lap 19 and, after a lap-24 caution flag set up a one-lap dash to the checkered flag, he picked up one more spot to finish third and clinch the title.
Leka settled for second place, several car lengths behind Orr and just a car length ahead of Schwartz. Shelby Miles of Bloomington , Ind. , and Kent Robinson, also of Bloomington , completed the top five.
The runner-up finish unofficially left Leka four points behind Schwartz in the final standings.
“I just kept plugging away,” said Schwartz, who earned his second UMP national crown in the last three years. “It didn’t look good for awhile there, but I just ran as hard as I could and we pulled it out.
“I’ve been racing with Jeff all year, and we’ve done some good racing. I wish we could’ve just tied – I didn’t want to just give it away, but wouldn’t have minded if we ended up tied. He deserved to win it just as much as we did.”
Leka, who was searching for his first career UMP Modified national championship, was gracious in defeat.
“I looked up at the scoreboard once and seen we were second and I didn’t know where Denny was, so I thought we might have a shot at pulling it out,” said Leka. “But then I got in the cushion and packed the right-rear (wheel) full of mud. The car started vibrating, and after that I couldn’t slide-job Scotty without getting into him.
“I wasn’t gonna get into Scotty to win the race, so I said, ‘Well, let’s take our stuff home in one piece, and if we don’t win the points, we don’t win the points.’
“We’ll just come back next. It was still a great year for us, and we’ll hold our heads high.”
Orr, meanwhile, was a very happy winner.
“I’ve been trying to win this race every year, but it’s tough because there’s so many good guys here,” said Orr. “I finally did it – and I held off the best in the business.”
The Modified A-Main was marred by a frightening crash on the original start that saw fourth-starter Rob Williams of Eaton , Ohio , climb the homestretch fence and flip back into traffic. Jon Henry of Ada , Ohio , slammed the top of Williams’s flying car and Canadian Steve Arpin and West Virginia ’s Kenny Johnson also became involved, but all drivers escaped the wreck without injury.
In the Late Model A-Main, Bloomquist gained a dose of redemption for his disappointing performances in the recent ‘World 100’ and the Sept. 29 Knoxville (Iowa) Late Model Nationals. His unspectacular run at Knoxville actually prompted him to enter the UMP DIRTcar Racing Fall Nationals.
“We weren’t happy with how we ran last week,” Bloomquist said of piloting his homebuilt ‘Team Zero’ mount to victory at Eldora. “We went home and stripped down the car and came here to see if we could get back on track.”
Bloomquist accomplished that goal, running a flawless race in his familiar No. 0. The 19-year-old Richards, who started sixth, beat Bloomquist to the front of the field, but he couldn’t hold off the veteran.
“We should’ve been set up like this for (the World 100),” said Bloomquist. “Then we might’ve had something for ‘em.”
Richards, who passed polesitter Dan Schlieper of Sullivan , Wis. , for the lead on lap 13, was a runner-up in the UMP DIRTcar Racing Fall Nationals for the second consecutive year.
“We were off just a little bit,” said Richards, who drove his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car. “When we got to lapped traffic, (Bloomquist) was just more maneuverable. I had to move my car up the racetrack more to get through the corners.”
Erb started and finished third after racing right on Richards’s rear bumper for the final quarter of the race. Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning , Mich. , advanced from the 20th starting spot to finish a fast-closing fourth without the benefit of a caution flag, and Schlieper settled for fifth after leading laps 1-12.
The low-key Erb joined Schwartz on the frontstretch after the Late Model finale to receive recognition for his national championship. He made UMP DIRTcar Racing history as the first driver to win both the Summernationals and national crowns in the same season.
“When we came out of the Summernationals and saw we had a shot at the national deal, we decided to take a shot at it,” said Erb. “Some people said that we couldn’t do it, but when they say that it just gives you a little bit of extra incentive. We just did the best we could do, kept plugging away, and we got it done.”
Saturday’s Late Model heat races were won by Richards, Wayne Chinn of Tipp City , Ohio , Steve Sheppard Jr. of New Berlin , Ill. , Schlieper, Erb and Rick Delong of Whitehouse, Ohio. The B-Mains were claimed by Jason Montgomery of Jackson , Ohio , VanWormer and Randy Korte of Highland , Ill.
Jared Hawkins of Fairmont , W.Va. , crossed the finish line first in the sixth Late Model heat, but he was disqualified for weighing in three pounds light with his car after the event.
For more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing, visit www.umpracing.com.
NOTE: Look for feature stories on UMP DIRTcar Racing national champions Dennis Erb Jr. and Denny Schwartz in the coming days.
Results of UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model A- Main (40 laps):
1) Scott Bloomquist
2) Josh Richards
3) Dennis Erb Jr.
4) Jeep VanWormer
5) Dan Schlieper
6) Michael England
7) Randy Korte
8) Rick DeLong
9) Scott James
10) Wayne Chinn
11) Eric Jacobsen
12) Ben Adkins
13) Tim Manville
14) West Steidinger
15) Billy Faust
16) Frank Heckenast Jr.
17) Jason Montgomery
18) Dave Hess Jr.
19) Chad Ruhlman
20) Richie Hedrick
21) Brian Ruhlman
22) Aaron Scott
23) Jerry Bowersock
24) Alan Vochaska
25) Ted Loomis
26) Darrell Lanigan
27) Steve Sheppard Jr.
28) Jason Feger
Late Model Heat 1: Josh Richards, Darrel Lanigan, Dave Hess Jr., John Blankenship, Chad Zobrist, Mike Provenzano, Richie Hedrick, Andrew Reaume, Derek idone, Brad Harden, Scott Baker, Shawn Phillippi, Bill Hahn, Jason Fegers
Late Model Heat 2: Wayne Chinn, Ben Adkins, Eric Jacobsen, Jason Montgomery, Dustin Moore, Derek Chandler, Daren Friedman, Aaron Scott, Jayme Zidar, Brett Reaume, Rusty Griffaw, Chris Ross, Adam Thrush
Late Model Heat 3: Steve Sheppard Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Jerry Bowersock, Brian Ruhlman, Bobby Kitchen, Jeep VanWormer, Michael Kloos, Keith Berner, Brian Dively, Jason McBride, Ed Ellert, Jason Haskell
Late Model Heat 4: Dan Schlieper, Michael England, Alan Vochaska, John Mason, Wes Steidinger, Casey Noonan, Ky Harper, Kevin Reeve, Jim Felker, Jr., Jay Helton, Trace Westling, Kevin Nelson, Jr.
Late Model Heat 5: Dennis Erb Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Chad Ruhlman, Scott James, Randy Korte, Bill Faust, Tyler Boggs, J.R. Hotovy, Ken Hahn, Greg Haskell, Dan Smolders, George Lee, Duane Chamberlain
Late Model Heat 6: Rick DeLong, Tim Manville, Ted Loomis, Brad Eitinear, Donald Mihelich, Kevin Mack, Jon Horner, Don Gordon, Mike Schulte, Jimmy Gallagher, Ryan Dauber, Robby Hensley, Jared Hawkins
Late Model B-Main 1: Jason Montgomery, Richie Hedrick, Daren Friedman, Andrew Reaume, Scott Baker, John Blankenship, Chris Ross, Mike Provenzano, Derek Chandler, Brad Harden, Bill Hahn, Adam Thrush, Shawn Phillippi, Jayme Zidar, Chad Zobrist, Aaron Scott, Derek Didone, Brett Reaume, Dustin Moore, Rusty Griffaw, Jason Feger
Late Model B-Main 2: Jeep VanWormer, Brian Ruhlman, Casey Noonan, Bobby Kitchen, John Mason, Michael Kloos, Brian Dively, Wes Steidinger, Ky Harper, Jason McBride, Kevin Reeve, Trace Westling, Jim Felker, Jr., Jay Helton, Kevin Nelson, Jr., Ed Ellert, Keith Berner, Mike Mataragas, Jason Haskell, Jimmy Owens
Late Model B-Main 3: Randy Korte, Scott James, Billy Faust, Tyler Boggs, J. R. Hotovy, Jared Hawkins, Ken Hahn, Mike Schulte, Ryan Dauber, Greg Haskell, Don Gordon, Donald Mihelich, Duane Chamberlain, Brad Eitinear, Kevin Mack, JimmyGallagher, Dan Smolders, Robby Hensley, Jon Horner, George Lee
Results of UMP DIRTcar Racing Open-Wheel Modified A- Main (25 laps):
1) Scott Orr
2) Jeff Leka
3) Denny Schwartz
4) Shelby Miles
5) Kent Robinson
6) Don Adams
7) Greg Johnson
8) Randle Sweeney
9) Dean Hoffman
10) Lance Dehm
11) George Catanzano
12) Jimmy Westerfield
13) Kyle Brown
14) Mike Spatola
15) Rob Fuqua
16) Chad Ruhlman
17) Kenny Johnson
18) Gabe Menser
19) Todd Sherman
20) Rick Hensley
21) Jesse Cramer
22) Chad Evans
23) Jeff Harris
24) Steve Arpin
25) Clayton Miller
26) Rob Williams
27) Jon Henry
DNS: Jerry Bowersock
Modified B-Main 1: Randle Sweeney, Gabe Menser, Ed Roley, Clint Shutts, Jimmy Hayden, Mike Dirksen, Kevin Hastings, Dave Porth, Chad Bauer, Shane Unger, Brent Hole, Tony Molnar, Brandon Morrow, Bobby Pearson, Barney Craig, Brad McLeod, Gary Richard, Rich Robinson, Jr. Chad Rosenbeck, John Brooks, Craig Conyer, Ryan Thomas, Jesse Bitterling, Mike Free
Modified B-Main 2: Jon Henry, Steve Arpin, Brian Lynn, Chad Osterhoff, Todd Sanders, Jeff Wellum, Greg Socha, Mike Hohlbein, Rick Weekly, Mark Hotovy, Billy Palmer, Anthony Davis, Mike Chrisman, Dave Treon, Jr., Kasey Schrock, Ryan Huddleston, Shaun Smith, Denny Schwartz, Chad Begoon, Andrew Sprague, Doug Taylor, Nick Rosselit, Shawn Wildman, Mike Janis
Modified B-Main 3: Geroge Catanzano, Mike Spatola, Tommy Seets, Jr., Jeb Friedman, Doug Adkins, Dave Hess, Jr., Jesse Cramer, Jeff Babcock, J. D. Laster, John McCaul, Paul DeGoey, Ed Haudenschild, Gary Ricketts, Brad Powley, Mike Roediger, Davey Gantt, Kenny Johnson, Jason Hastings, Marion Gardner, Josh Morrow, Casey Luedeke, Tom Treon, Aaron Wiebbe, Sick Stout
Modified B-Main 4: Jeff Leka, Rob Fugua, Danny Schwartz, Dave Wheatley, Daryl Banks, Matt Huddleston, Bob Burch, Lenny Guyton, Mark Kowarsch, Jacob Poel, Steve Shute, Justin Matson, John Taylor, Darrell Lowe, Stan Smith, Scott Knepley, Tim Richardson, Steve Clark, Chad Ruhlman, Michael Brown, Lee Hobbs, Curtis Coulter, Don Lamb, Josh Scott