Erb completes UMP dominance at Eldora
By Kevin KovacUMP DIRTcar Racing
ROSSBURG, Ohio (Oct. 4) — Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. turned back a late-race challenge to triumph in Saturday night’s Moser Engineering UMP DIRTcar Nationals at Eldora Speedway. Erb, who turns 36 on Oct. 12, ended his second consecutive UMP DIRTcar national championship season with a $5,000 flourish in the 40-lap Super Late Model feature. He grabbed the lead from Richie Hedrick of Urbana, Ill., on lap four and made all the right moves in lapped traffic during the final circuits to hold off Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, and Jeep Van Wormer of Pinconning, Mich., for his first career win at the famed half-mile oval. | Slideshow | Prelims
With the two-day program closing out the 2008 UMP DIRTcar Racing points season, Erb and first-time open-wheel modified national champion Jeff Leka of Buffalo, Ill., were officially crowned in front of the crowd prior to the start of the night’s action. The points battles had already been decided in each driver’s favor prior to the weekend. Erb, who also captured the UMP Summernationals crown, will receive a $20,000 check at the Jan. 10 banquet in Springfield, Ill.
The low-key Erb proudly climbed out of his Thomason Transportation Rayburn machine on the Eldora winner’s stage after surviving the frenetic Super Late Model headliner, which was slowed by just one caution flag (on lap 12 for the slow car driven by Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va.) and one red flag (on lap 21 for a fire under the hood of Summerfield, Ill., racer Mike Schulte’s car).
“To stand up here after winning this thing really caps off the year,” said Erb, who has 15 overall victories this season. “Going out and repeating both championships (the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals and nationals points race) and winning the Nationals here is just a great thing.”
It was also the coveted first Eldora feature win for Erb, who had gotten a taste of success at the track by capturing the previous night’s 12-lap, 11-car Race of Champions event. “It means a lot to win here,” said Erb. “I’ve been coming here a long time. We’ve made the World 100 and the Dream and run good in them and we’ve finished second and third here in this (UMP DIRTcar Nationals), but getting a win is tough.”
The victory is “a big confidence boost for when we come back for the bigger shows,” he added. “We’re not here very much, so every time we get on the racetrack we learn a bunch. Hopefully this will help out in the future.”
Erb, who started fourth, knew he wouldn’t be able to waltz to the checkered flag when he realized during the red flag that Van Wormer, who started 19th, and Miller, who started 14th, were positioned behind him. “I looked up at the scoreboard and saw Jeep and Matt coming, so I knew I just had to keep driving hard,” said Erb. “We just took off (on the restart), kept driving as hard as I could through lapped traffic and it worked out.”
Miller, a former Dream winner who clinched the 2008 Eldora Late Model points title by entering the UMP DIRTcar Nationals, traded slide jobs with Van Wormer at both ends of the track for laps 30-34 before securing second place. He got the nose of his McCullough Motorsports car up to the rear deck of Erb’s machine amid lapped traffic but had to settle for a close runner-up finish. Van Wormer finished third, followed by ninth-starting Billy Faust of Highland, Ill., and 15th-starting Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill.
Former UMP champion Randy Korte of Highland, Ill., advanced from the 12th starting spot to second in just 10 laps, but he retired after the race’s red flag because his car’s radiator was punctured by a rock.
Notes: Curt Spalding of Hartford, Mich., was driving the Scott Clippinger-owned No. 16c normally driven by Kevin Claycomb, who was taking the weekend off. ... After blowing a motor in his heat race, UMP points provisional Dusty Moore of Swanton, Ohio, climbed behind the wheel of Curtis Deisenroth's No. 2D to start the feature. ... Drivers pulling double duty in Late Models and modifieds were Jerry Bowersock, Chad Ruhlman, Jon Henry, Scott Orr, Ben Adkins, and Shon Flanary. ... Aaron Scott, who started 12 in his heat because of engine problems during Friday's qualifying, pulled a last-lap, last-turn slide job on Spalding to take the final transfer spot in the fourth heat. ... Randy Korte charged from 11th to second in his heat. ... The six heat winners redrew for their starting spots in the feature with Jared Hawkins and Richie Hedrick drawing front-row starting spots. (Additional information from Dustin Jarrett)
UMP Nationals @ Eldora: (1) Dennis Erb Jr., (2) Matt Miller, (3) Jeep Van Wormer, (4) Billy Faust, (5) Jason Feger, (6) Aaron Scott, (7) Chris Ross, (8) Richie Hedrick, (9) Michael Kloos, (10) Brian Ruhlman, (11) Rick DeLong, (12) Curt Spalding, (13) Ben Adkins, (14) Jon Henry, (15) Jerry Bowersock, (16) Rusty Schlenk, (17) Andrew Reaume, (18) Ronnie Perrine Jr., (19) Dan Walden, (20) Jared Hawkins, (21) Jeff Beyers, (22) Randy Korte, (23) Mike Schulte, (24) Scott Orr, (25) Duane Chamberlain, (26) Shawn Toczek, (27) Wes Steidinger, (28) Dusty Moore. Heat race winners (among 69 cars): Kloos, Hawkins, Schlenk, Hedrick, Henry, Erb. Consolation winners: Van Wormer, DeLong, Steidinger.