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UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update

Evansville, IN — GETTING BETTER: Randy Korte is chomping at the bit to go racing.

Unfortunately, the two-time UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model national champion can’t climb into his familiar TMCI Transportation No. 00 until his doctor says he’s ready.

Sidelined since suffering a back injury in a Dirt Late Model Winternationals feature incident on Feb. 5 at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., Korte is not taking well to watching races from the pit area as the UMP DIRTcar Racing season swings into high gear.

“This is the first time in my whole career that I’ve been out (of action) for more than a week,” said Korte, a 42-year-old veteran from Highland, Ill. “It’s hard to be a spectator.”

Korte was in Florida driving a Riggs Motorsports entry to get tuned up for the 2008 campaign when his injury occurred. He was involved in an early-race tangle that caused his car to bounce in the air and slam hard onto the track surface.

“It didn’t really look like anything at all to the fans watching in the grandstand,” Korte said of the accident, which barely even damaged his car. “But it knocked the breath out of me when I came down. I couldn’t catch my breath for like five or 10 minutes, until I got oxygen in the ambulance.

“It was the most scared feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

On top of that, Korte felt pain in his back. Doctors ultimately discovered that he had broken the T-6 vertebra in his mid- to upper-back and it had stuck into his spinal cord, leaving him with a long road to recovery.

“I’ve had some major rollovers in my career and never had an issue (injury),” said Korte. “But this one, I guess I just hit the right way to do some damage.”

Korte dealt with serious back pain for nearly two months upon returning home. “I could just about get out of bed some days,” he said.

The pain began to diminish last month, however, giving Korte hope that his early-April doctor’s check-up would deem him ready to get back in a car. Instead, his doctor was the bearer of bad news, telling ‘King Kong’ Korte that he needed at least another month of inactivity so his vertebra could completely heal and pull away from his spinal cord.

“I don’t want to rush it,” said Korte. “If the doctor says I need to heal up more, there’s nothing I can do but listen.”

Korte’s next doctor’s visit is scheduled for May 13. He’s hopeful that he’ll get an thumb’s-up signal before he leaves the office, clearing the way for him to get back on the track well before the mid-June start of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals.

Until he receives the go-ahead from his doctor, Korte is keeping his self-owned dirt Late Model team active. He put Billy Faust of Lebanon, Ill., in his car’s seat for several events in April, and last week he enlisted four-time UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model national champion Rodney Melvin of Benton, Ill., to drive his No. 00 until he’s ready to return to the cockpit.

“They’ve done a great job for me,” Korte said of Faust and Melvin. “Billy won (on April 5) at Highland (Ill.) and finished second at Pevely (Missouri’s I-55 Raceway), and last weekend Rodney finished fifth at Pevely.”

Melvin will do a three-race swing in Korte’s car beginning this Thursday night (May 1), running at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., on Thursday and Friday and I-55 Raceway on Saturday.

FAMILIAR FACE ON TOP: Defending UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model national champion Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., grabbed the lead in the 2008 national points race for the first time after last weekend’s UMP DIRTcar action.

Following a second-place finish to Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., in the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Northern Allstars Late Model Series event on April 26 at Kamp Motor Speedway in Boswell, Ind., Erb vaulted into the national points lead by 12 markers over Jason McBride of Carbondale, Ill. Erb has made seven starts so far this season to McBride’s 10.

Randle Sweeney of Clifty, Ky., leads the UMP DIRTcar open-wheel Modified national points standings. He’s coming off a strong weekend that saw him finish second on April 25 at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway and win on April 26 at Soggy Bottom Raceway in Morgantown, Ky.

NOTABLE UMP DIRTcar RACING THIS WEEKEND:

* The second and third legs of the inaugural ‘Midwest Big Ten Series’ for Super Late Models are set for this Friday night (May 2) at Morgan County Speedway in Jacksonville, Ill., and Saturday night (May 3) at Macon (Ill.) Speedway.

The two tracks have teamed up this year to offer Super Late Model teams a chance to run for increased purses five times at each speedway, with the series champion taking home $3,000 from a $10,000 points fund.

* The UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Sunoco American Late Model Series heads to Michigan on Saturday night (May 3) for a $2,000-to-win show at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa.

* The UMP DIRTcar open-wheel Modified class has special events on tap at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky. ($1,200-to-win shows on both Friday and Saturday); Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway on Saturday ($1,500 to win); and Quad City Raceway in East Moline, Ill., on Sunday (May 4).

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 April 29):

Super Late Models (driver/points/races):

1. Dennis Erb Jr. 521 7
2. Jason McBride 509 10
3. Rusty Schlenk 489 8
4. Mike Hammerle 477 11
5. Rusty Griffaw 395 8
6. Wes Steidinger 395 6
7. Billy Moyer 375 4
8. Michael Kloos 362 9
9. Rob Underwood 360 6
10. Steve Francis 355 4
11. Brad Looney 355 5
12. Chris Shelton 341 8
13. Wayne Shugart 331 6
14. Tony Albright 329 6
15. Ryan Unzicker 327 6
16. Richard Ferry 322 5
17. Jeff Phipps 299 6
18. Joe Kump 292 6
19. Chuck Proctor 290 5
20. Jason Davis 288 6

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

1. Randle Sweeney 817 11
2. Kent Robinson 796 11
3. Tim Hancock 736 11
4. Jon Henry 594 10
5. Denny Schwartz 569 10
6. Chad Evans 539 9
7. Gary Cook Jr. 534 8
8. Mike Spatola 477 8
9. Clayton Miller 473 8
10. George Gilbert 468 7
11. Nick Allen 464 6
12. Jeff Matthews 453 6
13. Matt Bex 441 7
14. Jeff Leka 429 7
15. Clint DeMoss 425 7
16. Hank Schlindwein 416 8
17. Matt Boknecht 406 6
18. Sal Hebert 406 7
19. Bobby Bittle 403 6
20. Jamie Carter 401 8

Pro Late Models (driver/points/races):

1. Duane Hodges 436 7
2. Levi Ashby 396 8
3. Jason Jones 389 8
4. Caleb Ashby 355 6
5. Josh Harris 342 6
6. Phil Gregory 315 6
7. Carnell Parker 295 4
8. Tait Davenport 292 4
9. Darrell Hartman 287 7
10. Mike Watson 279 6

Sportsman (driver/points/races):

1. Troy Clark 429 8
2. Brad Cummings 376 7
3. Shawn Daugherty 375 6
4. Bruce Westerman 355 6
5. Anthony Jackson 355 5
6. Patrick Vareika 352 6
7. Jeremy Hines 348 6
8. Paige Doyle 323 7
9. Chris Hillman 319 6
10. Danny Vogel Jr. 305 5

Limited Modifieds (driver/points/races):

1. Brandon Buhler 350 5
2. Bryan Barrett 265 5
3. Will Duncan 265 4
4. Evan Delahoussaye 260 4
5. Jonathan Clayton 250 4
6. John Talkington 233 4
7. Lee Fincher 212 4
8. Ray Allen Kulhanek 210 3
9. David Jackson 203 4
10. Ray Breeland 198 4

Street Stocks (driver/points/races):

1. Travis Myers 530 8
2. Aaron Penton 439 8
3. Brad Taylor 409 8
4. Jon Wix 396 6
5. Randy Arnold 396 8
6. Grady Christian 380 5
7. David Cline 315 5
8. Chris Fisher 303 5
9. Joe Belkey II 289 5
10. Alan Peacock 280 4

Factory Stocks (driver/points/races):

1. Mickey Hines 289 4
2. Cody Vanosdol 284 4
3. Bodi Henry 269 4
4. William Burton 248 4
5. Mark Bruce 241 4
6. Willie Sallee 223 4
7. Scott Erickson 191 3
8. Clay Ellison 189 4
9. Bill Moore 186 4
10. Casey Crane 158 2

4-Cylinders (driver/points/races):

1. Jeff Rittenberry 425 6
2. Michael Perrigo 368 6
3. Michael Rittenberry 367 6
4. Daniel Stephens 360 6
5. Travis Staats 355 5
6. Tim Sull 345 5
7. Brandon Kuck 338 6
8. Charlie Staats 324 5
9. Jimbob Scott 321 6
10. James Lovelady 317 6