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UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals Night 18: Miller Outclasses Field For Flag-To-Flag Victory At Spoon River

Darren Miller

Darren Miller - Erik Grigsby Photo

CANTON, IL — By Kellen Burns /DIRTcar Racing P.R. –

It’s safe to say Darren Miller likes to leave no questions unanswered.

The Milledgeville, Ill., standout took the lead from the outside pole at the start of Wednesday night’s 40-lap UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals A-Main at Spoon River Speedway and never looked back en route to his third victory of the 2008 tour.

Miller, who’s affectionately known at ‘The Thriller,’ swept the night, registering the fastest lap (14.330 seconds) in the group time-trial session and winning his heat before visiting Victory Lane. His third Summer Nationals triumph made him the tour’s winningest driver in 2008.

Miller knew his car was strong as soon as the heat races started.

“We hit it right on the nose tonight,” said Miller, whose previous Summer Nationals wins came back-to-back on June 19-20 at I-57/I-64 Raceway in Mt. Vernon, Ill., and Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway. “That thing was good right from the drop of the green.”

During the A-Main most drivers found it difficult to pass – all except Miller.

“It was good when it was slick and it was good when it rubbered,” remarked Miller, who has won all three of his career Summer Nationals races this season.

Gibson City, Ill.’s Kevin Weaver and Fairbury, Ill.’s Wes Steidinger battled neck-and-neck for second place throughout the event, with the veteran Weaver edging the young hotshoe at the finish line.

Weaver’s runner-up finish gave him yet another good run on the tour. He claimed a third–place at Quad City Raceway on Tuesday night.

“We just had a good starting spot there – that was the main thing,” said Weaver. “We probably needed to tame it down tonight with the rubber. (Miller) had a pretty good car, and it was hard to pass, but I’m tickled to death to run second.”

Steidinger settled for third after starting fourth. He made an early move around Eric Smith of Bloomingon, Ill., to battle with Weaver.

Steidinger felt the track leave him as well as others early on, which made it tough to advance.

“I got alongside (Weaver) once but he closed the door,” said Steidinger. “You just got to cruise and hope somebody messes up.”

Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich., and Steve Sheppard Jr. of New Berlin, Ill., completed the top five.

The two Summer Nationals championship contenders had rare off nights. Both points leader Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., qualified through the B-Main, and they finished 10th and 12th, respectively, in the A-Main.

Erb and Shirley both agreed they each missed a chance to capitalize on the other’s lackluster performance.

Erb padded his points lead by two points with his finish, moving his edge to 19 points over Shirley. Three Summer Nationals points events remain on the schedule and Erb is confident about his chances for a second straight title.

“Yeah I’ve done well at each one of them,” Erb said of his chances. “So we’re looking forward to getting there and hopefully running good.”

A field of 47 UMP DIRTcar Super Late Models entered the event.

Heat winners were Miller, Eric Smith, Weaver, Steidinger and VanWormer. Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., and Jordan Bland of Campbellsville, Ky., captured the C-Mains, and Erb won the B-Main.

The UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals continues on Thursday night (July 10) at La Salle (Ill.) Speedway.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit

UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature Finish (40 laps):

1. Darren Miller
2. Kevin Weaver
3. Wes Steidinger
4. Jeep VanWormer
5. Steve Sheppard Jr.
6. Will Vaught
7. Eric Smith
8. Randy Korte
9. Scott Bull
10. Dennis Erb Jr.
11. Rickey Frankel
12. Brian Shirley
13. Kevin Cole
14. Ryan Unzicker
15. Jim Felker Jr.
16. Jason McBride
17. Jordan Bland
18. Brian Allen
19. Jason Feger
20. Brad Denney
21. Joe Harlan
22. Tim Lance
DNS: Dan O’Connor, Greg Longfellow

B-Main Finish: Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Allen, Brian Shirley, Kevin Cole, Steve Lance Jr., Jordan Bland, Bryan Collins, Mark Burgtorf, Derek Chandler, Joe Harlan, Chad Mitchell, Jerry Reeder Jr., Mike Mullvain, Jimmy Dehm, Russ Adams, Travis Wallbaum

First C-Main Finish: Jordan Bland, Joe Harlan, Jimmy Dehm, Jason McBride, Charley Hess, Rick O’Brien.

Second C-Main Finish: Mark Burgtorf, Derek Chandler, Travis Wallbaum

UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals Points Standings (after 18 events):

1. Dennis Erb Jr. 1378
2. Brian Shirley 1359
3. Wes Steidinger 1247
4. Jeep VanWormer 1181
5. Will Vaught 1134
6. Randy Korte 1122
7. Steve Sheppard Jr. 1070
8. Darren Miller 891
9. Kevin Weaver 845
10. Jason Feger 831
11. Jordan Bland 733
12. Ryan Unzicker 709
13. Billy Moyer 644
14. Tim Lance 528
15. Dewayne Kiefer 510

2008 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summer Nationals Schedule (Date/Day/Track/Location/To Win/Winner – Car Count):

June 12 – Thurs. – Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway/Calvert City, KY – $7,500 (Brad Neat – 40)
June 13 – Fri. – Brownstown (IN) Speedway – $10,000 (Rain – postponed to July 11)
June 14 – Sat. – Kamp Motor Speedway/Boswell, IN – $10,000 (Wes Steidinger – 36)
June 15 – Sun. – Tri-State Speedway/Haubstadt, IN – $6,000 (Dennis Erb Jr. – 39)
June 16 – Mon – OFF
June 17 – Tues. – Highland Speedway/Highland, IL – $6,000 (Terry English – 47)
June 18 – Wed. – Belle Clair Speedway/Belleville, IL – $6,000 (Will Vaught – 41)
June 19 – Thurs. – I-57/I-64 Raceway/Mt. Vernon, IL – $6,000 (Darren Miller – 37)
June 20 – Fri. – Farmer City Raceway/Farmer City, IL – $10,000 (Darren Miller – 50)
June 21 – Sat. – I-55 Raceway/Pevely, MO – $10,000 (CANCELED – flooding)
June 22 – Sun. – Vermilion Co. Speedway/Danville, IL – $6,000 (Jeep VanWormer – 43)
June 23 – Mon. – OFF
June 24 – Tue. – Sedalia State Fair Speedway/Sedalia, MO – $6,000 (Brian Shirley – 27)
June 25 – Wed. – Lake Ozark Speedway/Eldon, MO – $6,000 (Billy Moyer – 31)
June 26 – Thurs. – Paducah Int’l Raceway/Paducah, KY – $6,000 (Kevin Claycomb – 35)
June 27 – Fri. – Lawrenceburg Speedway/Lawrenceburg, IN – $10,000 (Dennis Erb Jr. – 36)
June 28 – Sat. – Clarksville Speedway/Clarksville, TN – $10,000 (Rain – postponed to July 19)
June 29 – Sun. – Lincoln Speedway/Lincoln, IL – $6,000 (Brian Shirley – 46)
June 30 – Mon. – OFF
July 1 – Tue. – Peoria Speedway/Peoria, IL – $6,000 (Jeep VanWormer – 40)
July 2 – Wed. – Morgan Co. Speedway/Jacksonville, IL – $6,000 (Rain – postponed to Aug. 15)
July 3 – Thurs. – Macon Speedway/Macon, IL – $6,000 (Rain – postponed to Aug. 16)
July 4 – Fri. – Tri-City Speedway/Pontoon Beach, IL – $10,000 (Billy Moyer – 51)
July 5 – Sat. – Fairbury American Legion Speedway/Fairbury, IL -$10,000 (Jimmy Mars – 48)
July 6 – Sun. – Quad City Raceway/East Moline, IL – $6,000 (Randy Korte – 21)
July 7 – Mon. – OFF
July 8 – Tue. – Quincy (IL) Speedway – $6,000 (Rained out)
July 9 – Wed. – Spoon River Speedway/Canton, IL – $6,000 (Darren Miller – 47)
July 10 – Thurs. – La Salle Speedway/La Salle, IL – $6,000
July 11 – Fri. – Brownstown (IN) Speedway – $10,000 (Rescheduled date)
July 12 – Sat. – Oakshade Raceway/Wauseon, OH – $10,000
July 19 – Sat. – Clarksville Speedway/Clarksville, TN – $10,000 (Rescheduled date)
Aug. 15 – Fri. – Morgan Co. Speedway/Jacksonville, IL – $6,000 (Rescheduled date)
Aug. 16 – Sat. – Macon Speedway/Macon, IL – $6,000 (Rescheduled date)

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