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UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update (6/6/2008)

Evansville, IN — SOUTHWEST STAR: Anthony Madrid lives over 1,550 miles from Springfield, Ill., but he’d love to make a long trip to the capital of the Land of Lincoln come January 2009.

It would be a quite worthwhile excursion, of course, if the resident of Phoenix, Ariz., emerges as the 2008 UMP DIRTcar Modified national champion – a distinct possibility considering the way he’s been racking up wins at the Southwest’s new UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned tracks and creeping up the points standings.

Madrid, 32, has already won nine features this season – second on the overall UMP DIRTcar win list only to red-hot national points leader Randle Sweeney of Clifty, Ky., who has 14 victories – and enters this weekend’s action ranked fourth in the national points standings. He trails Sweeney by 304 points (1,671-1,367), but he has 19 starts in compared to Sweeney’s 22.

There’s four full months of points racing left, and Madrid intends to make a run at the $20,000 UMP DIRTcar national title. It would easily be the richest accomplishment of his 17-year racing career.

“It would be so cool to win it,” Madrid said of the UMP DIRTcar crown. “We’re moving up and we’re in the mix, so there’s no stopping us now. We’re gonna give it our best shot. We’ll find as many races to run as we can.”

The UMP DIRTcar sanction is new to the Southwest this season, bringing the weekly and touring events of the established Barnett Harley DIRTcar Modified Series under the UMP DIRTcar umbrella. Southwestern drivers can obtain UMP DIRTcar points at seven sanctioned tracks that comprise the Wild West Region: Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix; Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande, Ariz.; Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz.; USA Race Park in Tucson, Ariz.; Thunder Raceway in Show Low, Ariz.; Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, N.M.; and El Paso Speedway Park in East El Paso, Texas.

A fulltime open-wheel Modified racer for six years, Madrid is the top gun at the famed Manzanita oval. Half of his ’08 wins have come at Manzy, where he’s captured an amazing 117 career features in Modified and Stock Car competition. Modified fields average 25-plus cars on a weekly basis there, giving Madrid a strong base for his UMP DIRTcar points chasing.

The UMP DIRTcar national Modified title will be determined using a driver’s best 35 finishes/points nights, and drivers receive bonus points based on car counts. Madrid expects to make more than 50 starts this season, racing mostly two nights per week, at Manzanita on Fridays and either Central Arizona or Canyon on Saturdays.

Madrid is supporter of UMP DIRTcar coming on the Southwest’s racing Modified scene.

“It makes it a challenge for you,” said Madrid, who fields his own racing equipment (he uses a Flexi Flyer Chassis from Phoenix and Kline Racing Engines from Strawberry, Ariz.). “We have something to shoot for. It’ll be fun to see if we can outrun all those guys in the Midwest.”

Madrid, who makes his living as a salesman for Sunoco Race Fuels in Phoenix, believes the national visibility of UMP DIRTcar will help bring attention to the quality Modified racing in the Southwest.

Said Madrid: “We have a good group of drivers out here.”

Indeed, Madrid is one of five Southwestern drivers ranked among the top 30 of the UMP DIRTcar national points standings. He’s joined by R.C. Whitwell of Tucson, Ariz. (ninth) and Jason Noll of El Mirage, Ariz. (10th), as well as Bumper Jones (27th) and his father Royal Jones (30th), both of Mesilla Park, N.M.

ON FIRE: Randle Sweeney continued his tear for the ages last weekend in the UMP DIRTcar Modified ranks, ringing up victories at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway and Soggy Bottom in Morgantown, Ky., to run his personal win streak to 10 in a row.

Sweeney, 43, has won 11 of his last 12 starts and owns 14 overall triumphs, giving him a 201-point lead over Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind.

Ryan Unzicker, 26, of El Paso, Ill., remained atop the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model national points standings for the second consecutive week, but he has some heavy hitters beginning to breathe down his neck.

Defending Super Late Model national champion Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., moved into second place after winning the Tri-Track Challenge event on June 1 at Macon (Ill.) Speedway, and Wes Steidinger of Fairbury, Ill. – last year’s national runner-up – vaulted up to fourth. Erb trails Unzicker by just three points entering the weekend, and Steidinger is a mere 19 points back.

COMING UP ON THE UMP DIRTcar CIRCUIT:

* The richest first-place prize of the season in dirt Late Model racing – a cool $100,000 – will be on the line in this weekend’s (June 6-7) 14th annual UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

* The 20th edition of the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals kicks off its run of 26 events in 31 days on Thurs., June 12, at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky.

* Bob Sargent’s Track Enterprises, Inc. is presenting ‘NASCAR Night’ on Tues., June 10, at Quincy (Ill.) Raceway. NASCAR star Ken Schrader will be in action and sign autographs following the program, which is headlined by the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Models.

* Sargent will host an even bigger midweek spectacular on Thurs., June 12, at his Macon (Ill.) Speedway. The ‘Night of NASCAR Stars II presented by the U.S. Army’ will bring 18 prominent names in NASCAR to the high-banked, one-fifth-mile oval.

The U.S. Army-sponsored racing action includes the NASCAR gang competing in a full bill of UMP DIRTcar Modified competition. There will also full shows for the UMP Sportsman and Street Stocks.

The roster of NASCAR personalities who will take part in the event is headlined by the first gathering of all five Wallace family members living the NASCAR life of speed – track co-owner Kenny Wallace, retired Cup star Rusty Wallace, Nationwide Series standout Mike Wallace, Steven Wallace (Rusty’s son and a budding Nationwide Series racer) and Chrissy Wallace (Mike’s daughter and a Craftsman Truck Series competitor). Also in action will be Marcos Ambrose, Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Kyle Busch, Bob Dillner, Bobby Labonte, Michael McDowell, Buzzie Reutimann, David Reutimann, Ken Schrader, David Stremme and Michael Waltrip.

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 June 2):

Super Late Models (driver/points/races):

1. Ryan Unzicker 1017 22
2. Dennis Erb Jr. 1014 16
3. Mike Hammerle 998 22
4. Wes Steidinger 993 16
5. Rusty Schlenk 971 18
6. Jason McBride 922 21
7. Michael Kloos 902 19
8. Jason Feger 889 15
9. Tyler Boggs 815 15
10. Chris Shelton 743 17
11. Steve Sheppard Jr. 742 15
12. Brad Looney 701 11
13. Brian Ruhlman 701 12
14. Kerry Mathew 690 15
15. Ed Dixon 688 15
16. Rusty Griffaw 681 14
17. Richie Hedrick 653 15
18. Tony Albright 639 11
19. Steve Francis 635 8
20. Jayme Zidar 631 16

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

1. Randle Sweeney 1671 22
2. Kent Robinson 1470 22
3. Tim Hancock 1447 23
4. Anthony Madrid 1367 19
5. Gary Cook Jr. 1270 20
6. Jeff Leka 1266 19
7. Chad Evans 1260 23
8. Denny Schwartz 1204 21
9. R.C. Whitwell 1113 15
10. Jason Noll 1100 19
11. Mike Spatola 1097 19
12. Jon Henry 975 17
13. McKay Wenger 965 19
14. Clayton Miller 954 17
15. Tim Ward 925 19
16. Clint DeMoss 912 15
17. Matt Boknecht 899 13
18. Rob Fuqua 877 16
19. Bobby Bittle 876 14
20. Danny Schwartz 876 15

Pro Late Models (driver/points/races):

1. Tait Davenport 991 13
2. Jason Jones 931 19
3. Kevin Hardin 889 15
4. Josh Harris 882 15
5. Caleb Ashby 803 15
6. Levi Ashby 796 16
7. Phil Gregory 780 15
8. Carnell Parker 699 10
9. Duane Hodges 685 11
10. Cary King 556 12

Sportsman (driver/points/races):

1. Chris Hillman 966 15
2. Brad Cummings 880 15
3. Troy Clark 880 16
4. Jeremy Hines 814 14
5. Derrick Hufford 794 12
6. Joel Funk 709 13
7. Jeff Herzog 692 13
8. Bruce Westerman 680 11
9. Jimmy Cummins 658 13
10. Shawn Daugherty 655 10

Limited Modifieds (driver/points/races):

1. Jonathan Clayton 770 11
2. Brandon Buhler 538 8
3. John Paul Talkington 503 8
4. Derek Brooks 490 7
5. Matthew Holmes 488 8
6. Rob Madrid 465 7
7. Alex Ashley 462 8
8. Zach Dennis 458 7
9. Eric Adkins 431 7
10. Bryan Barrett 407 8

Street Stocks (driver/points/races):

1. Travis Myers 896 14
2. Jerrad Krick 877 12
3. Chris Fisher 726 12
4. Jon Wix 710 12
5. Josh Griffith 708 12
6. Randy Arnold 708 14
7. Steve Ewing 701 13
8. Dave Mannise 689 11
9. Lee Hall 687 12
10. Jesse Simmons 686 12

4-Cylinders (driver/points/races):

1. Joe Reed 1062 14
2. Jeffrey Bailey 885 15
3. Keaton Downing 836 14
4. Jeff Rittenberry 836 12
5. Michael Rittenberry 802 13
6. Bob Zbinden 771 12
7. Daniel Stephens 727 12
8. Michael Perrigo 677 11
9. James Scott 625 12
10. Travis Staats 621 9

Factory Stocks (driver/points/races):

1. William Burton 597 9
2. Mickey Hines 564 9
3. Bodi Henry 472 8
4. Josh Phelps 463 9
5. Jim Scout 450 5
6. Donnie Wilson 444 9
7. Mark Bruce 433 8
8. Willie Sallee 426 9
9. Bill Moore 423 9
10. Clay Ellison 409 9