Heating up, Miller claims Eldora's Baltes Classic
ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 1) — Matt Miller is heating up at the right time. One week before Eldora Speedway’s $46,000-to-win World 100, Miller scored his second straight victory on the Sunoco American Late Model Series in Sunday’s sixth annual WIX Filters Baltes Classic at the famed half-mile oval. | Slideshow
Miller, the current Eldora points leader who scored a pair of preliminary features at the Dirt Late Model Dream, roared forward from his seventh starting spot in Sunday’s main event to take the lead on lap seven. He led the remaining distance in his Rick Delong-owned machine on his way to a sweep of the ALMS tour’s doubleheader weekend. Miller, who also won Saturday night’s ALMS event at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio, pushed his total weekend earnings to $5,000.
“Rick (Delong) and guys had this car dialed in tonight; it could go anywhere I put it,” said Miller, who earned the 25th ALMS victory of his career. “I feel great going into next week’s World 100.”
Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, advanced from 12th to claim runner-up honors while Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., mounted a charge from eighth to third. Jeff Babcock of Wayne, Ohio, who claimed Eldora's ALMS-sanctioned Johnny Appleseed Classic in May, finished fourth in Sunday’s race with Brian Ruhlman of Clarklake, Mich., rounding out the top five.
When the green flag dropped, it was Ruhlman darting into the lead with Robinson and Chris Keller in pursuit, while Miller was charging from his seventh starting spot. At the end of two circuits, Miller moved into third behind Ruhlman and Robinson.
Two laps later, a caution appeared for a two-car tangle in turn two. With the double-file restart, it moved Miller on the outside behind leader Ruhlman. That fell right into Miller’s playbook, and he made the most of it by dogging Ruhlman for two laps before taking the lead he was to hold to the finish.
It became clear sailing for Miller at that point, while Ruhlman and Robinson began their own battle before Henry’s rise soon brought him into the mix.
Henry appeared to be the fastest car on the track, but a lack of any further caution periods prevented him from getting close enough to challenge Miller for the lead.
Notes: Miller’s Rocket Chassis is sponsored by Rick DeLong Racing, Dominator Race Products, Corrigan Race Fuels, Hoosier Tire and Integra Racing Shocks. ... Miller has 25 career ALMS victories, third on the all-time list behind Kris Patterson and Jeep Van Wormer. ... Babcock pulled double-duty, claiming a victory in the night’s UMP Modified feature. ... The sixth annual WIX Filters Baltes Classic honored long-time track owners Earl and Berneice Baltes. ... Many drivers used the event as a tuneup for next week's World 100; the 43rd edition of the Dirt Late Model racing's most prestigious event kicks off on Sep. 5. ... The ALMS tour will make its final stop of the season at Eldora on Oct. 5 for the UMP DIRTcar Nationals.
WIX Filters Baltes Classic: (1) Matt Miller, (2) Jon Henry, (3) Kent Robinson, (4) Jeff Babcock, (5) Brian Ruhlman, (6) Ricky Weiss, (7) Jason Jaggers, (8) Ryan VanderVeen, (9) Casey Noonan, (10) J.R. Hotovy, (11) Duane Chamberlain, (12) Andrew Reaume, (13) Rusty Schlenk, (14) Jerry Bowersock, (15) Phil Ausra, (16) Chris Keller, (17) Terry Casey, (18) Rob Anderzack, (19) Steve Kester, (20) Chad Smith, (21) Chris Ross, (22) Ryan Sutter. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Babcock, 15.721 seconds. Heat winners: Ruhlman, Weiss, Hotovy, Keller. Consolation winner: Ausra.