Denied third crown, Erb repeats at UMP Nationals
ROSSBURG, Ohio (Oct. 10) — Although he was dethroned was UMP's overall Late Model champion, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., still nabbed a season-ending victory.
Erb, the 2007-08 UMP DIRTcar champ, captured Saturday's Pak-A-Sak UMP Nationals for the second straight year, earning $5,000 for the 40-lap victory at Eldora Speedway. | Slideshow
Erb, 36, started outside row two but quickly grabbed the second spot behind early leader Scott James of Lawrenceburg, Ind. Erb inherited the lead on lap seven when James was forced pitside for a mechanical issue and Erb never looked back.
“We were rolling around there pretty good,” said Erb, who turns 37 on Oct. 12. “I was trying to just float over those bumps out there.”
Erb proceeded to drive his car out to over a half-straightaway lead as he made quick work of lapped traffic.
“It feels good to come here and win this two years in a row,” Erb said. “The car just worked awesome. I have to thank everyone that has helped me and everyone for sticking this one out.”
Frank Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., finished second followed by Chad Ruhlman of Bemus Point, N.Y. Polesitter Rusty Schlenk of Jackson, Miss., was fourth followed by Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio. Newly-crowned UMP points champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., had a strong run going through the early part of the feature but saw a flat right-rear tire take him out of competition while running third. He finished 20th.
The race also served as the finale on the Sunoco American Late Model Series. Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, wrapped up the championship, along with Rookie of the Year honors, with his 22nd-place finish.
Notes: Erb's new Barry Wright Race Car, which he debuted the previous weekend, has a Rhyne Competition Engine and sponsorship from Thomason Express, PRC, AFCO and Hoosier. ... Erb has been a long-time driver of Rayburn Race Cars. ... Brandon Thirlby flipped his car in his heat race, triggering a brief fire. He wasn't injured. ... Besides Thirlby, among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Terry Sroufe, Jordan Bland, Jayme Zidar, Shawn Negangard, Ben Adkins, Ted Loomis, David Hilliker and Rich Neiser.
Pak-A-Sak UMP Nationals: (1) Dennis Erb Jr., (2) Frank Heckenast Jr., (3) Chad Ruhlman, (4) Rusty Schlenk, (5) Matt Miller, (6) Brian Ruhlman, (7) Randy Korte, (8) Jared Landers, (9) Jeep Van Wormer, (10) Donnie Moran, (11) Jerry Bowersock, (12) Rick DeLong, (13) John Mason, (14) Jason McBride, (15) Austin Dillon, (16) Kevin Cole, (17) Casey Noonan, (18) Dona Marcoullier, (19) Ryan Vanderveen, (20) Jason Feger, (21) Andrew Reaume, (22) Jon Henry, (23) Wayne Chinn, (24) Scott James, (25) Dusty Moore, (26) Mike Mataragas, (27) Chris Ross, (28) Terry English. Fast qualifier (among 56 cars): Feger, 15.250 seconds. Heat race winners: Feger, C. Ruhlman, Schlenk, Erb, Heckenast, James. Consolation winners: Moore, Marcoullier, English. Race of Champions winner: Erb.