Pit Area Packed With 79 Late Models & 117 Open-Wheel Modifieds
ROSSBURG , OH – Oct. 5, 2007 – Wes Steidinger’s dream of winning the UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model national championship has evaporated, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to race for.
A victory in Saturday night’s 40-lap UMP DIRTcar Racing Fall Nationals A-Main at Eldora Speedway would be a nice consolation prize – and Steidinger made it clear on Friday night that he’s a serious contender for the $10,000 winner’s check.
Steidinger, 24, of Fairbury , Ill. , was the star of Friday night’s UMP DIRTcar Racing Fall Nationals action, registering the overall fastest lap (16.045 seconds) among 79 entrants in the group qualifying session and winning the 10-lap Late Model Race of Champions event that closed the preliminary program.
The ‘Fairbury Flyer’ dominated the RoC sprint, which included 15 drivers who won UMP state, regional or series titles or were a chassis builder’s highest-ranked representative in the national points standings. He surged off the outside pole to grab the lead from 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model national champ Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., on the opening circuit and never looked back en route to a $1,000 payday.
Erb settled for second in the Race of Champions, followed by Randy Korte of Highland , Ill. , 14th-starter Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., and Rick Delong of Whitehouse, Ohio.
“We know how good of a car we have, so our hopes are high going into tomorrow’s show,” said Steidinger, who will start his Rayburn No. J1 from outside the second row in the fourth of Saturday night’s six scheduled Late Model heats. “If things go our way, we can be a contender.”
Steidinger enters Saturday night’s UMP DIRTcar Racing points-season finale with no mathematical chance to win the $20,000 national title after bowing to Erb, who overtook Steidinger for the points lead with a late surge and clinched his first-ever championship last week.
But Steidinger, who has scored a career-high 20 feature wins this season, will have no problem accepting a second-place finish in the national points if he can record his first-ever win at the Eldora half-mile.
“To win here would be way sweeter than winning the championship,” said Steidinger. “To do anything good here, against so much competition, is just a pretty awesome feeling.”
Other group fast-timers were Richards (16.303 seconds), Eric Jacobsen of Sea Cliff Beach, Calif. (16.316), Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg , Tenn. (16.138), Frank Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park , Ill. (16.214) and Jared Hawkins of Fairmont , W.Va. (16.916).
Erb, who will officially be crowned the 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model national champ on Saturday night, timed fourth-fastest in his group. But thanks to the invert, he’ll start from the pole position in the fifth heat.
Jimmy Owens of Newport , Tenn. , who won last month’s World 100 at Eldora, ripped off the second-fastest overall lap of the night (16.095 seconds) but ran into major trouble in the Race of Champions. He dropped out on lap two when his No. 20 let out a thick belch of white smoke due to a busted oil line. With no backup motor in his trailer, it appeared that he would not return to compete on Saturday night.
A huge field of 117 UMP DIRTcar Racing open-wheel Modifieds was signed in for Friday night’s program, which featured group qualifying and eight 10-lap heat races.
Modified heat winners were Don Adams of London , Ky. , Kent Robinson of Bloomington , Ind. , Lance Dehm of Chatsworth , Ill. , Scott Orr of Columbia City , Ind. , Kyle Brown of Wooster, Ohio, Jerry Bowersock of Wapakoneta, Ohio, Rob Williams of Eaton, Ohio, and Shelby Miles of Bloomington, Ind.
The two combatants for the UMP DIRTcar Racing open-wheel Modified national title – Denny Schwartz of Ashmore, Ill. , and Jeff Leka of Buffalo , Ill. – had tough nights.
Schwartz, who leads Leka by two points entering the Fall Nationals, was the fastest-timer for the fourth heat but ran into trouble on the opening lap. He hit the turn-one wall after tangling with another car and was forced to restart from the rear of the field.
The 2005 national champ rallied to challenge for second place – the final transfer spot – but stopped on the backstretch with tire and suspension problems on the last lap. He’ll have to come from deep in a B-Main field on Saturday night or be forced to use a points provisional to start the A-Main.
Leka, meanwhile, missed the heat invert with his time-trial clocking and fell one spot short of qualifying in his preliminary, finishing third. Thus he’ll have a big hill to climb if he wants to win Saturday night’s 25-lap A-Main.
Of course, Leka must win the feature and have Schwartz finish outside the top four to claim the championship.
Gates open on Saturday at 3 p.m., with the Modified Race of Champions set to begin the program at 6 p.m. Late Model heats and B- and A-Mains for both divisions are also on the agenda.
For more information, visit www.eldoraspeedway.com or www.umpracing.com.
UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model Race of Champions Finish (10 laps):
1. Wes Steidinger (North Region/Illinois State)
2. Dennis Erb Jr. (Summernationals/Rayburn)
3. Randy Korte (Rocket)
4. Josh Richards ( Florida Speedweek)
5. Rick Delong ( Ohio State )
6. Jason Feger (Indiana State/Pierce)
7. Richie Hedrick (MasterSbilt)
8. Brian Ruhlman (Sunoco America Late Model Series)
9. Rusty Griffaw ( Tennessee State )
10. Ted Loomis (GRT)
11. Alan Vochaska ( Michigan State )
12. Andrew Reaume ( Canada )
13. Duane Chamberlain (Chamberlain)
14. Steve Sheppard Jr. (Northern All-Stars Late Model Series)
15. Jimmy Owens (Bloomquist)
Starting Lineups For Saturday’s UMP DIRTcar Racing Late Model Heat Races (inside/outside, with Friday qualifying lap time):
Heat 1 (Top 3 Transfer):
Row 1: Chad Zobrist (16.815)/Jason Feger (16.518)
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan (16.390)/Josh Richards (16.303)
Row 3: John Blankenship (16.867)/Richie Hedrick (17.057)
Row 4: Andrew Reaume (17.246)/Dave Hess Jr. (17.253)
Row 5: Mike Provenzano (17.388)/Derek Didone (17.709)
Row 6: Brad Harden (17.731)/Bill Hahn (17.953)
Row 7: Scott Baker (18.204)/Shawn Phillippi (19.418)
Heat 2 (Top 3 Transfer):
Row 1: Wayne Chinn (16.559)/Ben Adkins (16.548)
Row 2: Jason Montgomery (16.506)/Eric Jacobsen (16.316)
Row 3: Aaron Scott (16.747)/Derek Chandler (16.784)
Row 4: Dustin Moore (16.899)/Daren Friedman (17.161)
Row 5: Jayme Zidar (17.162)/Chris Ross (17.219)
Row 6: Rusty Griffaw (17.374)/Brett Reaume (17.884)
Row 7: Adam Thrush (34.398)
Heat 3 (Top 3 Transfer):
Row 1: Jerry Bowersock (16.681)/ Steve Sheppard Jr. (16.222)
Row 2: Jeep VanWormer (16.160)/Scott Bloomquist (16.138)
Row 3: Bobby Kitchen (16.775)/Keith Berner (16.939)
Row 4: Brian Ruhlman (16.979)/Michael Kloos (17.328)
Row 5: Brian Diveley (17.626)/Jason McBride (18.297)
Row 6: Ed Ellert (18.519)/Jason Haskell (19.568)
Row 7: Mike Mataragas (N/T)
Heat 4 (Top 3 Transfer):
Row 1: Dan Schlieper (16.621)/Michael England (16.237)
Row 2: Jimmy Owens (16.095)/Wes Steidinger (16.045)
Row 3: Alan Vochaska (16.699)/Casey Noonan (16.982)
Row 4: John Mason (17.062)/Ky Harper (17.623)
Row 5: Jim Felker Jr. (17.653)/Kevin Reeve (17.902)
Row 6: Trace Westling (18.269)/Jay Helton (18.300)
Row 7: Kevin Nelson Jr. (18.446)
Heat 5 (Top 3 Transfer):
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr. (16.674)/ Chad Ruhlman (16.608)
Row 2: George Lee (16.469)/Frank Heckenast Jr. (16.214)
Row 3: Billy Faust (16.703)/Scott James (16.820)
Row 4: Randy Korte (17.155)/J.R. Hotovy (17.222)
Row 5: Tyler Boggs (17.470)/Duane Chamberlain (17.517)
Row 6: Ken Hahn (17.755)/Dan Smolders (18.721)
Row 7: Greg Haskell (19.201)
Heat 6 (Top 3 Transfer):
Row 1: Ryan Dauber (17.067)/Robby Hensley (17.052)
Row 2: Tim Manville (16.971)/Jared Hawkins (16.916)
Row 3: Ted Loomis (17.139)/Rick Delong (17.292)
Row 4: Mike Schulte (17.407)/Brad Eitniear (17.508)
Row 5: Kevin Mack (18.310)/Don Mihelich (18.444)
Row 6: Jimmy Gallagher (18.599)/Don Gordon (18.650)
Row 7: Jon Horner (19.344)
Results of Friday Night’s UMP DIRTcar Racing Open-Wheel Modified Heat Races (10 Laps/Top 2 Transfer):
Heat 1: 1. Don Adams, 2. Jimmy Westerfield, 3. Gabe Menser, 4. Barney Craig, 5. Brad McLeod, 6. Ed Roley, 7. Tony Molnar, 8. Brandon Morrow, 9. Bobby Pearson, 10. Gary Richard, 11. Jesse Bitterling, 12. Mike Dirksen, 13. Mike Free, 14. Dave Porth, 15. Kenny Carmichael
Heat 2: 1. Kent Robinson, 2. Jeff Harris, 3. Randle Sweeney, 4. Ryan Thomas, 5. John Brooks, 6. Clint Shutts, 7. Kevin Hastings, 8. Jimmy Hayden, 9. Chad Rosenbeck, 10. Craig Conyer, 11. Rich Robinson Jr., 12. Chad Bauer, 13. Brent Hole, 14. Shane Unger, 15. Todd Ferber, 16. Doug Hewitt Jr.
Heat 3: 1. Lance Dehm, 2. Greg Johnson, 3. Shaun Smith, 4. Jon Henry, 5. Todd Sanders, 6. Chad Begoon, 7. Kasey Schrock, 8. Billy Palmer, 9. Ryan Huddleston, 10. Doug Taylor, 11. Anthony Davis, 12. Shawn Wildman, 13. Steve Arpin, 14. Mark Hotovy
Heat 4: 1. Scott Orr, 2. Rick Hensley, 3. Chad Osterhoff, 4. Brian Lynn, 5. Jeff Wellum, 6. Andrew Sprague, 7. Mike Hohlbein, 8. Denny Schwartz, 9. Mike Chrisman, 10. Greg Socha, 11. Nick Rosselit, 12. David Treon Jr., 13. Rick Weekly, 14. Mike Janis, 15. R.J. Bradford
Heat 5: 1. Kyle Brown, 2. Chad Evans, 3. Davey Gantt, 4. George Cantanzano, 5. Dave Hess Jr., 6. Tommie Sheets Jr., 7. Marion Gardner, 8. Jason Hastings, 9. Josh Morrow, 10. Casey Luedeke, 11. Bradley Powley, 12. Tom Treon, 13. Aaron Wiebe, 14. Rick Stout
Heat 6: 1. Jerry Bowersock, 2. Todd Sherman, 3. Jeb Friedman, 4. Kenny Johnson, 5. Mike Spatola, 6. J.D. Laster, 7. Paul DeGoey, 8. John McCaul, 9. Ed Haudenschild, 10. Mike Roediger, 11. Doug Adkins, 12. Gary Ricketts, 13. Jeff Babcock, 14. Jesse Cramer
Heat 7: 1. Rob Williams, 2. Dean Hoffman, 3. Jeff Leka, 4. Chad Ruhlman, 5. Dave Wheatley, 6. Lee Hobbs, 7. Justin Matson, 8. Scott Knepley, 9. John Taylor, 10. Lenny Guyton, 11. Mark Kowarsch, 12. Jacob Poel, 13. Steve Clark, 14. Don Lamb
Heat 8: 1. Shelby Miles, 2. Clayton Miller, 3. Rob Fuqua, 4. Danny Schwartz, 5. Darryl Banks, 6. Matt Huddleston, 7. Bob Burch, 8. Darrell Lowe, 9. Steve Shute, 10. Curtis Coulter, 11. Michael Brown, 12. Tim Richardson, 13. Stan Smith, 14. Josh Scott