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UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update: Big Super Late Model & Modified Weekend Ahead At Kentucky Lake, Circuit Mourns Passing Of Bill Nelson

Evansville, IN — HERE WE GO: The first UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Super Late Model and open-wheel Modified action since last month in Florida rolls out this weekend at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky., where the circuit’s two marquee divisions headline the three-day ‘March Madness’ spectacular.

Set to run from Thursday (March 13) through Saturday (March 15), the busy season-opening meet at the three-eighths-mile oval promoted by Sherri Heckenast will feature complete programs each night for the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Models and open-wheel Modifieds. The Super Late Models will chase a top prize of $5,000 on Thursday and Friday and $10,000 in Saturday’s finale, while the Modified competitors will find a $2,000 booty on the line in each of their three main events.

Race time is 7 p.m. each night.

The Super Late Model field is expected to include defending UMP DIRTcar Summernationals and national champion Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who will make his first start since last month’s Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park.

A specials-only facility, Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway is also scheduled to host the opening event of this year’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals, a $7,500-to-win show on Thurs., June 12.

For more information on ‘March Madness,’ visit www.klmsllc.com or call 270-395-3600 (track hotline) or 815-469-3619 (track office).

SAD NEWS: The UMP DIRTcar Racing community is mourning the passing of Bill Nelson, a former car owner and promoter on the UMP circuit.

Nelson, 50, died Monday afternoon from complications that developed while he was undergoing open-heart surgery at Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, Ill.

A UMP DIRTcar Modified national champion car owner in 1997 while teamed with driver Steve Hillard, Nelson also co-owned Super Late Models with Hillard for several seasons before becoming co-promoter of the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Northern All-Stars Late Model Series in 2004. He spent three seasons overseeing the NALMS and served as a promoter of his hometown track, Vermilion County Speedway in Danville, Ill., through the end of the 2007 campaign.

UMP DIRTcar Racing director Sam Driggers was deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson, who was planning to help his friends William and Tammy Scogin at StormPay.com Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway this season.

“Bill was a very good friend of mine and will truly be missed by everyone who knew him,” said Driggers, who visited Nelson in the hospital on Sunday.

Funeral arrangements for Nelson include visitation on Thurs., March 13, from 3-8 p.m. and a funeral service on Fri., March 14, at 10 a.m., both at the Pape Funeral Home in Danville, Ill.

ON THE HORIZON: Nelson will certainly be fondly remembered when StormPay.com Clarksville Speedway opens its 2008 UMP DIRTcar campaign on March 21-22 with the fourth annual Tuckasee Toilet Bowl Classic.

Rescheduled from March 7-8 due to bad weather, the unique ‘Toilet Bowl’ program features a UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model A-Main paying $10,000 to win and a UMP DIRTcar Modified headliner offering a $2,000 victor’s check. The Super Late Model portion of the show will span both days – time trials and heat races on Fri., March 21, and B-Mains and the feature on Sat., March 22 – while the Modified competition has been changed to a one-day program on Fri., March 21.

The switch to one night of action for the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds will allow teams the opportunity to also enter the fifth annual ‘Bluegrass Bash’ on Sat., March 22, at Western Kentucky Speedway in Nebo, Ky.

With a $6,000 first prize and over $27,000 in prize money on the line in the ‘Bluegrass Bash,’ the 40-lap A-Main is one of the richest UMP DIRTcar Modified events of the season. Defending race champion Jeff Leka of Buffalo, Ill., heads the nearly 50-driver pre-entry list for the race, which last year drew a field of close to 100 cars.

For more information on the Tuckasee Toilet Bowl Classic, visit www.clarksvillespeedway.com. Info on the ‘Bluegrass Bash’ is available by contacting Billy Egeler at 270-302-8882 or logging on to www.wkracing.com or www.openwheelmodified.com.

HISTORIC EVENT: Clarksville’s Tuckasee Toilet Bowl Classic weekend boasts one support-division feature that figures to always be remembered as the answer to the trivia question, “Which track hosted the first UMP DIRTcar Pro Late Model race?”

UMP DIRTcar is sanctioning crate-engine Late Model competition for the first time in 2008 with the introduction of the Pro Late Model division. StormPay.com Clarksville Speedway will be the site of the first UMP DIRTcar Pro Late Model event, a $1,000-to-win feature on Sat., March 22, that will be preceded by time trials and qualifying races.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The 2008 UMP DIRTcar Summernationals schedule was recently completed with the addition of dates at Quincy (Ill.) Speedway and Kankakee (Ill.) Motor Speedway.

Filling the two dates left as ‘TBA’ on the original schedule released in mid-January, Quincy will host a Summernationals event on Tues., July 8, and Kankakee will entertain the renowned ‘Hell Tour’ on Fri., July 11.

Kankakee, which is slotted in the Summernationals sked on the eve of the series finale at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio, is being promoted in 2008 by Ron Miller and Bob Drake.

The additions push the 2008 Summernationals schedule to 27 events over a 31-day period, which puts this year’s tour in line to match the single-season record for the most races run in the history of the 20-year-old series. There were 27 events completed in both 2002 and 2005.

THE BATTLE BEGINS: The 2008 UMP DIRTcar points races in all divisions gets going in earnest on April 4 – the first day that all UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned races will start counting toward a driver’s accumulated points.

Technically, the UMP DIRTcar points season kicked off on Jan. 1, but from that date through March 30 only a driver’s highest points finish (finishing-position points plus bonus points earned relative to car count) is counted toward their 2008 points total.

HUGE SHOW IN ‘LAND OF LINCOLN’: The richest Super Late Model event ever contested in the state of Illinois – the heart of UMP DIRTcar Country – is rapidly approaching.

A World of Outlaws Late Model Series race that is co-sanctioned by UMP DIRTcar, the inaugural ‘Illini 100’ is set for April 4-5 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway. The two-day extravaganza at the quarter-mile fairgrounds oval will pay a whopping $20,000 to win from a total purse of nearly $100,000.

For more information on the ‘Illini 100,’ visit www.farmercityraceway.net or www.worldofoutlaws.com.

INFO: Log on to www.dirtcar.com for more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing.