KANKAKEE, IL – June 15, 2007 – Dennis Erb Jr. is off to a great start on the 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals.
One of the Midwest’s hottest drivers entering this year’s grueling tour, Erb marched to victory in Friday night’s 40-lap Summernationals opener at Kankakee Motor Speedway.
Erb, 34, of Carpentersville, Ill., earned $10,000 for capturing the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals lidlifter for the second consecutive season. Last year he went on finish fifth in the tour point standings.
A winner of two $10,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Mains last month, Erb continued his big-money surge by driving forward from the eighth starting spot in his Petroff Towing/Thomason Transportation Rayburn. He passed race-long pacesetter Rodney Melvin of Benton, Ill., for the lead on lap 25 and never looked back.
It was the fourth career Summernationals triumph for Erb, a favorite to stand as the points champion at the end of this year’s 28-race/30-day series.
Melvin, who has raced infrequently so far this season while gearing up for a Summernationals assault, held on to finish second at the high-banked oval.
Mike Marlar, a first-time Summernationals hopeful from Winfield, Tenn., came from the 12th starting spot to finish third, followed by 2004 Summernationals titlist Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and current UMP DIRTcar Racing national Late Model points leader Wes Steidinger of Fairbury, Ill., who started from the pole position.
Getting off to a tough start was 2006 Summernationals points runner-up Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich. He started seventh but was the first driver out of race, finishing 21st.
Forty-four cars entered the event.
Heat winners were Melvin, O’Neal, Ryan Dauber of Tonica, Ill., and Steidinger, and Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, and Jason Feger of Springfield, Ill., captured the B-Mains.
UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals Feature Finish (40 laps):
1. Dennis Erb
2. Rodney Melvin
3. Mike Marlar
4. Don O’Neal
5. Wes Steidinger
6. Greg Johnson
7. Terry Casey
8. Kevin Weaver
9. Matt Miller
10. Randy Korte
11. Steve Sheppard
12. Shawn Toczek
13. Richie Hedrick
14. Jason Fegers
15. Rusty Schlenk
16. Russ Scheffler
17. Ryan Dauber
18. Garrett Slager
19. Mike Provanzano
20. Tony Izzo
21. Jeep VanWormer
DNQ: Jordan Bland, Steve Zakrajsek, Zach Carney, A.J. Diemel, Terry Babb, Kenny Adams, Eddie Kirchoff, Don Knippenberg, Frank Heckenast Jr., Don Hillary, Rusty Pleasant, Steve Dimmick, Kerry Mathew, Dusty Moore, Tim Manville, George Scheffler, John Clemmons, Jim Mineo, Ted Loomis, Jim Felker, Ryan Unzicker, Mark Burgtorf, Mike Mataragas