Matt Miller was battling more than a fellow front-row starter in Friday’s second 25-lapper during Eldora Speedway’s 44th annual World 100. He was battling a cancer-surviving driver on an emotional quest for a victory in his final visit to the historic half-mile oval.
Randy Korte of Highland, Ill., his car carrying a special graphics scheme thanking fans who donated to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation led the first half of the race from outside the front-row, but the polesitting Miller went under him on the 13th lap and held off Korte the rest of the way for a $5,000 victory.
As rain fell in victory lane — sprinkles began on the 17th lap and the weather sent fans scurrying for shelter — Miller knew what it meant to beat Korte, a two-time UMP DIRTcar champion and one of the winningest Illinois drivers over the past 20 years.
“My buddy Randy, I know it’s his last time and I hate to take it from him, but it’s a race and we need it as bad as he does,” said Miller, the Whitehouse, Ohio, driver who steered his Rick Delong-owned car to victory.
Korte settled for second in a race with a four-car breakaway among the starters in the first two rows. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was third followed by R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio, while Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five.
Korte, who entered the weekend excited to help cap his successful career, gave it his best shot against Miller.
“When we got in traffic, you never know what’s going to happen,” Korte said. “It got close there. I think he found a better grove than me when he passed me. The middle started getting really good and he figured it out before me.”
Korte jumped into the lead from outside the front row with Miller, McCreadie and Conley evenly spaced over the first 10 laps with Brandon Overton trailing further behind in fifth. Miller closed in on Korte on the 11th lap, then nipped Korte by a nose at the line on the 13th lap.
Instead of pulling away, though, Korte — and McCreadie just behind — continued to hound the leader in the caution-free affair.
McCreadie briefly went under Korte in turn four, but Korte’s crossover move into turn one returned him to the second spot, and with seven laps remaining he closed within striking distance and never let Miller get out of touch the rest of the way.
On the final lap, a slower car hampered Miller’s progress out of turn four, but he was able to keep Korte in check to take the checkers a half-second ahead of Korte.
First heat (top three transfer): Brandon Overton, Gregg Satterlee, Tyler Reddick, Chris Brown, Jason Riggs, Nick Latham, Aaron Scott, Andrew Gordon, Brian Ruhlman, Tim Sabo.
Second heat (top three transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Eric Wells, Wendell Wallace, Terry Phillips, Delmas Conley, Shannon Thornberry, Don Hammer, Greg Johnson, Ron McQuerry, Jay Johnson.
Third heat (top three transfer): Tim McCreadie, Doug Drown, Shane Clanton, Josh Adkins, Tanner English, Terry Wolfenbarger, Tim Lance, Rodney Hamblin, Austin Hubbard. Scratched: Brett Wyatt.
Fourth heat (top three transfer): R.J. Conley, Earl Pearson Jr., Kent Robinson, Mike Spatola, Rodney Melvin, Mack McCarter, Rusty Schlenk, Steve Casebolt, Curtis Roberts, Ernie Cordier.
Fifth heat (top three transfer): Randy Korte, John Blankenship, Chad Ruhlman, Timothy Culp, George Lee, Wayne Chinn, Donald McIntosh, Steve Francis, Jerry Bowersock. Scratched: Chris Nash.
Sixth heat (top three transfer): Matt Miller, Brandon Sheppard, Jason Feger, Morgan Bagley, Mark Dotson, Jim Shereck, Brian Gray, Cecil Eunice. Scratched: Jackie Boggs.
First consolation (top three transfer): Terry Phillips, Chris Brown, Nick Latham, Josh Adkins, Don Hammer, Austin Hubbard, Tanner English, Delmas Conley, Brian Ruhlman, Terry Wolfenbarger, Shannon Thornsberry, Tim Lance, Aaron Scott, Greg Johnson, Jason Riggs, Tim Sabo. Ron McQuerry, Andrew Gordon. Scratched: Rodney Hamblin.
Second consolation (top three transfer): Mike Spatola, Mack McCarter, Rodney Melvin, Mark Dotson, Jim Shereck, Timothy Culp, Rusty Schlenk, Curtis Roberts, Wayne Chinn, Morgan Bagley, Jerry Bowersock, Brian Gray, George Lee, Cecil Eunice, Donald McIntosh. Scratched: Steve Casebolt, Steve Francis, Jackie Boggs.
Time trials (unofficial)
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, time
- Brandon Overton (5) Appling, Ga., 15.616
- Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 15.649
- Brad Neat (41), Dunnville, Ky., 15.705
- Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 15.755
- Duane Chamberlain (20c), Richmond, Ind., 15.773
- Rick Eckert (1), York, Pa., 15.814
- Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.819
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.831
- Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.853
- Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.864
- Brian Shirley (81), Chatham, Ill., 15.879
- Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 15.898
- Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.940
- Shannon Thornsberry (17), Martin, Ky., 15.948
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.993
- Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.997
- Randy Korte (00), Highland, Ill., 16.021
- Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.039
- Chris Brown (21), Spring, Texas, 16.047
- Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.059
- Doug Drown (20), Wooster, Ohio, 16.072
- Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 16.077
- Chad Ruhlman (49c), Bemus Point, N.Y., 16.083
- Matt Miller (3), Whitehouse, Ohio, 16.091
- Aaron Scott (33), Newark, Ohio, 16.127
- Jay Johnson (93), West Burlington, Iowa, 16.184
- Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 16.203
- Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.219
- Ross Nicastri (3), Camden, New South Wales, 16.237
- Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.250
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.280
- Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.303
- Josh Adkins (19m), Talladega, Ala., 16.324
- Mack McCarter (51), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 16.330
- Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 16.332
- Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 16.345
- Steve Lance (25), Cuba, Ill., 16.349
- Greg Johnson (80), Bedford, Ind., 16.362
- Brett Wyatt (360), Crossville, Tenn., 16.368
- Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 16.414
- George Lee (61), Millersburg, Ohio, 16.432
- Jim Shereck (17), St. Charles, Mo., 16.458
- Brian Ruhlman (49), Clarklake, Mich., 16.494
- Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 16.544
- Terry Wolfenbarger (14), Powell, Tenn., 16.601
- Curtis Roberts (9r), Coleman, Mich., 16.678
- Dan Schlieper (15) Oak Creek, Wis., 16.741
- Curtis Deisenroth (102D), Oak Harbor, Ohio, 16.810
- Andrew Gordon (18g), Dubois, Pa., 16.874
- Don Hammer (45) Clinton, Ill., 16.951
- Tanner English (96),Benton, Ky., 16.991
- Rodney Melvin (27), Benton, Ill., 17.114
- Timothy Culp (c8), West Monroe, La., 17.183
- Brian Gray (3), Hamilton, Ohio, 17.228
- Tim Sabo (16) Toledo, Ohio., 17.435
- Ron McQuerry (24hr), St. Albans, Mo., 18.004
- Rodney Hamblin (14), Downs, Ill., 18.187
- Ernie Cordier (4c), Brodhead, Ky., 18.467
- Chris Nash (54), Kalamazoo, Mich., no time