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UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Roundup: Erb, Leka Among Leaders In National Points Championship Battles

Evansville, IN — AT THE TOP: Dennis Erb Jr. can smell a second consecutive UMP DIRTcar Racing national title.

Jeff Leka, meanwhile, is chasing a first career national crown.

Both drivers find themselves in the driver’s seat toward their goals with exactly two months left in the UMP DIRTcar Racing points season – Erb leading the Super Late Model standings, and Leka topping the open-wheel Modified rankings.

Erb, 36, of Carpentersville, Ill., pulled off a late-season rally to bag last year’s Super Late Model national crown, but he appears to be rolling down the championship highway in 2008. He already captured his second straight UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals title last month, and as of Aug. 4 he holds a solid 192-point lead over Wes Steidinger of Fairbury, Ill., in the national standings. Third-place Steve Sheppard Jr. of New Berlin, Ill., is 512 points behind Erb, signaling that this will be a two-driver race to the finish.

A spectacular two-win weekend to welcome August helped Erb pump up his margin over Steidinger. He won on Friday night (Aug. 1) at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., and backed it up with a triumph worth a whopping $16,000 on Saturday night (Aug. 2) at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. — $6,000 for winning the rain-postponed Tri-Track Challenge event, and a $10,000 bonus for winning two of the three races that comprised the mini-series.

Buffalo, Ill.’s Leka, meanwhile, is trying to erase one missing line on his resume: a UMP DIRTcar Racing national title. The accomplished driver has come close several times – including last year, when he finished second in the national points race by just four points to Denny Schwartz of Ashmore, Ill. – and is focused on grabbing the brass ring in ’08.

With 20 feature wins already to his credit this season, Leka leads Randle Sweeney of Clifty, Ky., by 88 points in the points standings as of Aug. 4. Sweeney leads the division in feature victories with 28, but Leka has compiled more points thanks to his finishes and car-count bonus points.

Other UMP DIRTcar Racing national points leaders through Aug. 4 include Tait Davenport of Paducah, Ky. (Pro Late Models); Jeremy Hines of Seymour, Ind. (Sportsman); defending division champion Jonathan Clayton of Denham Springs, La. (Limited Modifieds); defending class titlist Jerrad Krick of Earl Park, Ind. (Street Stocks); Joe Reed of Decatur, Ill. (4-Cylinders); and Indiana’s Mickey Hines (Factory Stocks).

LONG RACE, LITTLE TRACK: The one-fifth-mile Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., is set to host its annual 100-lap UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model feature during the St. Clair County Fair this Friday night (Aug. 8).

The special long-distance event will also include the traditional ‘Throwing of the T-Shirts’ at intermission. Fans will clamor for 200 shirts – all featuring last year’s 100-lap winner Brent Kreke of Lebanon, Ill. – that will be tossed into the grandstands.

UMP DIRTcar RACING INFO: Log on to www.dirtcar.com for more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing and to view complete points standings for all divisions.

ATTENTION: Any UMP DIRTcar track or race team with news that could be used in the ‘UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update’ release can e-mail the info to Kevin Kovac at kkovac@dirtcar.com.

UMP DIRTcar Racing National Points Standings (as of Aug. 4):

Super Late Models (driver/points/races):

1. Dennis Erb Jr. 3034 40
2. Wes Steidinger 2842 40
3. Steve Sheppard Jr. 2522 40
4. Jason Feger 2372 40
5. Ryan Unzicker 2300 40
6. Brian Shirley 2247 35
7. Mike Hammerle 2128 40
8. Kevin Weaver 2124 40
9. Michael Kloos 2004 40
10. Jeep VanWormer 1864 31
11. Scott Bull 1847 38
12. Rusty Schlenk 1757 34
13. Jayme Zidar 1737 37
14. Will Vaught 1681 29
15. Mike Schulte 1643 36
16. Jason McBride 1577 40
17. Randy Korte 1563 24
18. Derek Chandler 1561 34
19. Eric Smith 1524 25
20. Brian Ruhlman 1503 26

Open-Wheel Modifieds (driver/points/races):

1. Jeff Leka 2853 35
2. Randle Sweeney 2765 35
3. Kent Robinson 2588 35
4. Gary Cook Jr. 2559 35
5. Tim Hancock 2495 35
6. Mike Spatola 2379 35
7. McKay Wenger 2369 35
8. Denny Schwartz 2331 35
9. Anthony Madrid 2227 32
10. Chad Evans 2208 35
11. John DeMoss 2204 35
12. Bobby Martintoni 2180 34
13. Rob Fuqua 2076 35
14. Tommie Seets Jr. 2021 35
15. Matt Bex 1996 31
16. Doug Adkins 1857 30
17. Jeb Friedman 1854 35
18. Chad Osterhoff 1825 32
19. Jeff Curl 1819 35
20. Matt Boknecht 1808 27

Pro Late Models (driver/points/races):

1. Tait Davenport 1802 26
2. Caleb Ashby 1644 30
3. Josh Harris 1499 25
4. Jason Jones 1498 30
5. Levi Ashby 1414 28
6. Brad Denney 1345 18
7. Kevin Hardin 1324 23
8. Matt Liner 1322 23
9. Carnell Parker 1312 19
10. Aaron Heck 1232 22

Sportsman (driver/points/races):

1. Jeremy Hines 1912 25
2. Joel Funk 1808 25
3. Jeff Herzog 1648 25
4. Brad Cummings 1614 25
5. Jason Unzicker 1562 25
6. Chris Hillman 1559 25
7. Rick Hufford 1550 25
8. Chada Weinrick 1546 25
9. Troy Clark 1541 25
10. Troy Medley 1487 24

Limited Modifieds (driver/points/races):

1. Jonathan Clayton 1365 20
2. Alex Ashley 1112 17
3. Eric Adkins 976 15
4. John Paul Talkington 920 16
5. Zach Dennis 899 15
6. Matthew Holmes 879 15
7. Dustin Shoemaker 847 16
8. Rob Madrid 829 13
9. Brandon Buhler 808 12
10. Dan Bimson 783 12

Street Stocks (driver/points/races):

1. Jerrad Krick 1855 25
2. David Hurst 1777 25
3. Travis Myers 1744 25
4. Dave Mannise 1645 25
5. Steve Maisel 1607 25
6. Terry Miller 1599 25
7. Chris Fisher 1578 25
8. Lee Hall 1568 25
9. Josh Griffith 1562 25
10. Steve Ewing 1469 25

4-Cylinders (driver/points):

1. Joe Reed 1864
2. Keaton Downing 1693
3. Jeffrey Bailey 1633
4. Bob Zbinden 1528
5. David Reed 1405
6. Mark Farber 1309
7. Michael Rittenberry 1272
8. Eric Wilson 1167
9. Jason Broughton 1159
10. Michael Perrigo 1157

Factory Stocks (driver/points/races):

1. Mickey Hines 1190
2. William Burton 1185
3. Billy DeLong 1180
4. Jim Scout 1053
5. Chris Henry 989
6. Clay Ellison 959
7. Brett Miller 888
8. Craig Dippman 858
9. Skid Moudy 849
10. Casey Crane 818